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2puttbird 03-11-2013 01:33 AM

Tracking down a very small CO2 leak ...
 
Hi All,

I'm having trouble locating tips on finding an ellusive CO2 leak, so I thought I would start a thread.

I built my keezer in the summer of 2011, and my first 5 lb bottle of CO2 lasted over a year. My second lasted about 6 weeks, which was quite a surprise. I immediately suspected the bottle (I don't really have anywhere to get bottles refilled, so I have to swap bottles when I need a refill) and/or the plastic washer. I talked to the bottled gas guy, and said that it's pretty rare for a bottle to leak, and he also said that the washers usually last longer than one bottle, but they're cheap so I replaced it when I traded.

After installing the third bottle, I ran a few simple troubleshooting tests ... each time, I pressurized the system and then shut the main valve on the bottle and waited to see if it would hold pressure ... it didn't.

Since then, I've just been closing the bottle valve in between uses until I had a chance to take the keezer offline for closer analysis and repairs ... and that time came this week, when both kegs finally became empty at the same time. :(

I unhooked and removed the kegs, closed the valves on the distribution header, unplugged the controller, and let everything come to room temperature. I pressurized it and then shut the valve on the bottle. I just checked it, now 5.5 hrs later, and the secondary pressure has dropped from 11psi to 9psi ... not as bad as I had expected, I guess, but still a leak.

I bought the system pre-assembled. The CO2 hose is clamped onto the regulator with a crimp clamp. The other end of that 4' hose is secured with a worm gear clamp to the fitting that is threaded into the header. Unless the valves are not completely sealing (possible, but probably not the problem, since the leak existed when the kegs were connected also), my leak must be in those few joints, right?

What I'm having trouble imagining is how a change in bottles would have affected any of those joints. I'm not tough on the hardware. And I replaced the plastic washer between the bottle and the regulator, which was the most obvious (or so I thought) culprit.

Thanks for any tips you might have.

Cheers!

newnick 03-11-2013 01:43 AM

Use soapy water to find the leak.

2puttbird 03-11-2013 02:07 AM

Thanks for replying ... I am familiar with that process, but unfortunately it requires enough of a leak to actually blow a bubble ... my leak requires 5.5 hrs to relieve 2 psi of pressure in a 4' hose, and it took 6 weeks to empty a 5 lb CO2 bottle, so it's a very small leak!

Epimetheus 03-11-2013 02:13 AM

Perhaps the hose material is permeable?

2puttbird 03-11-2013 02:32 AM

I have no idea ... my understanding is that it's standard hose used for this purpose. My next step is to get a new clamp, cut new ends on the main line, and reinstall them to see if that helps, even though I can't imagine how changing the bottle would have affected those connections.

Thanks for the reply.

NivekD 03-11-2013 02:39 AM

Sounds like you only changed the bottle and the washer...if you still have the old washer, put it back in and check...could have a hairline leak on the new washer.

WharfRat 03-11-2013 02:40 AM

I had to crank to around 40 PSI to blow bubbles last I had a leak - that worked.

Nunner 03-11-2013 02:40 AM

Is it possible to get your suspected leaks in a bucket of water? Even with a small leak if you can, you should be able to see air bubbles forming

2puttbird 03-11-2013 02:50 AM

Duh! Increase the pressure! Sometimes I'm too close to the problem to see other potential solutions.

NivekD ... the second bottle leaked out with the original washer, and then I changed it when I got the third bottle ... sorry that I didn't explain that very well ... but that's definitely something I need to verify anyway, thanks.

Nunner ... it would be a pain, although with all the rain we're getting I may get a chance yet! ;)

Thanks for the replies, guys ... they're really a big help!

Indytruks138 03-11-2013 03:32 PM

Def put it up to 40 psi and submerge everything.

I have had 2 bad check valves, so make sure you are putting those underwater too!

And don't rule out the kegs, if you don't get a good seal a keg will bleed a tank dry pretty quickly.


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