need info on Wafers and incubators, please help

osukrazykate

Songster
12 Years
Apr 10, 2009
676
50
241
Not too far from Keystone
So I have an incubator that uses a wafer. Recently the heat element wasn't coming on right at the end of a hatch. Luckily, everybody had hatched and been moved to a brooder, but now I want to hatch more eggs that I just bought. Hmmmm, yeah I am addicted. Anyways, I took the wafer out and wiped it down reinstalled it and now the bator seems to be working, but it has taken me a couple days to get it adjusted back to the right temp. However, I am not sure if I can trust it or if it was just that the wafer had slipped or something before I don't know. So I am trying to understand exactly how a wafer works, because it seems to be the wafer that was the problem. What is interesting to me is that the wafer looks like two pieces of lids from some canned goods and stuck together.

Does anybody know how wafers are made, how they work and if they can be fixed or how they do go bad? This way I can maybe try to figure out if I need to get a new one or if this one is actually working properly and if it was just the operator and not the bator itself.
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
335
341
Ontario, Canada
The wafer is actually hollow, and filled with ether (I think - or something like that anyhow). As the air temperature increases, the ether gas expands and makes the wafer expand to be 'fatter' which eventually hits the little pushbutton switch in the thermostat, turning the heating element off. Whereupon, as the air cools, the wafer shrinks thinner again and eventually lets loose of the pushbutton switch which turns the heating element back on.

The way that wafers fail is that they spring a leak and ether escapes so that they no longer behave correctly with temperature changes (normally this results in the heating element staying on and never shutting off). They can also be a little 'funky', either because they are getting towards failure or because they are screwed in crooked or because they have come loose on their mounting (the wingnut has loosened).

For a funky wafer, try making sure it is good and tight on its mounting (tighten up the wingnut if accessible -- you may have to readjust thermostat to get back to proper temperature after doing this, so best not to have to do it during an incubation) and isn't crooked, and if you don't trust it, get a new one. It is generally advised to have a spare on hand anyhow, in case one croaks during a setting so you can replace it immediately.

Good luck, have fun,

Pat
 

Penturner

Songster
9 Years
Feb 1, 2010
889
12
131
Reno Nevada
I would second the suggestion of having a spare on hand, pre adjusted if possible since it will need to be installed 5 minutes before you are on your way out the door to work. I plan to actually build my incubator with a back up thermostat that is adjusted 1 degree lower than the primary. this way the bator will only drop 1 degree when the first Thermostat fails, and it will, and it will never be okay. I will also have to rig indicator lights on the stats so I know which one is actually turning on. I want the primary to be a green light and the back up to be a read light so it is obvious something went wrong. I also plan to put in a lamp system that has 2 or three bulbs for the same reason.
 

osukrazykate

Songster
12 Years
Apr 10, 2009
676
50
241
Not too far from Keystone
Thank you very much for the great information! This was similar to what I was expecting, but was having a hard time finding out exactly. So it sounds like it could have slipped or become unscrewed and since I took it all apart and put it back together it is working fine now. It has gotten to temp by this morning, it so far has stayed at 99 to 100 on the hydrometer thermometer. However, with being busy the last couple days, I would try to look at it and see what the temp was as I walked by it and if the light was on. So far today it seems to be stabilizing now and I am watching the lowest now to see when it gets up to 99 as well.

I am definitely wanting to make my own incubator here really soon. I have been researching the design possibilities and trying to figure out how exactly I want it. We recently had an upright deep freezer go out so I am considering using that as the cabinet of the bator. However, I am not sure I need one that big and my DH would like to see it gone out of the workshop. So I have been thinking about making a small wooden cabinet that looks decorative to keep in the house. Plus, I do like being able to peek in on the eggs when walking by during different parts of the day.

I have been going by Lowes and Home Depot for spring plantings while there I look at the parts to figure out exactly which ones I am going to need to buy to make an incubator. But I have been also stopping by some thrift stores and see some really cheap lamp sets that possibly I could mount and use parts of the wiring to rewire it to the thermostat and back to it's own plug for the device to help save some money.
 

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