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I recently threw out my racking cane, it was turning cloudy and there was a piece of trub stuck in it that I couldn't get out for the life of me.

I remember the lady at a LHBS telling me you should replace all plastic components (even buckets) every six months, but this particular shop always pushes unneeded merchandise.

I'm thinking buckets can be used indefinitely, or at least while they're in good shape. And transfer stuff can be used as long as they don't taste bad since by the time you use them, you should be mostly out of fermentables.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

That's a great question.

The problem with plastic is that it can easily scratch and harbor bacteria. I'm fairly certain even rubbing your hand along the inside of a plastic bucket causes small scratching.

I think your guideline is fairly good: check your equipment regularly, and replace something as soon as it begins to impart an off flavor.

I've had my buckets for years, but I'm getting to the point of being nervous about them. I've been transitioning to Better Bottles anyway, so they're getting less use. Most of my tubing needs to be replaced more often than that.

In the end I tend to replacing tubing more often than I may need to because it's relatively cheap. I'd much rather waste a little money on extra tubing than have to toss an entire batch due to infection.

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I just had to stop using my bucket and go all-glass for fermenting. Each batch seemed to start having problems. I had been using the bucket for ~4 years. Every six months seems like overkill. –  benr Nov 10 '10 at 14:29
    
@benr I haven't replaced my buckets that often, but some of my tubing gets replaced every 6 months –  sgwill Nov 10 '10 at 14:31
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