Frustrated with kegging

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NOVA Brewer

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Hey guys. I'm hoping all the smart folks around here can help me out, because I'm about ready to throw my kegging set-up into the trash, after using it for less than a month.

Here's the problem - I have a leak somewhere, and for the life of me can't figure out where! It's a slow leak, too, so it's damn hard to find...

The story so far:

I got a free mini-fridge from work, cut out the inside of the door and bent the ice-cube tray holder down and back to make room for two cornies and a 5 lbs. CO2 can. Got a temp controller, and tested to make sure the fridge could hold a temperature. Success!

I got two rebuilt cornies from Brewer's Discount, which arrived pressurized. I ran a test over night, filling one with water and the next morning everything seemed fine.

After brewing my batch of Blanche de Chambly, I sanitized everything and siphoned into the keg. It took a few times to get the lid seated properly; taking the PSI up to 25 or so wouldn't cause the o-ring to seal. I popped the top a few times, reclamped, and hit it with the pressure again. On the third try or so, I had a good seal. I set it to 14 psi, and planned to leave it to carb for a week.

Three days later, I open up the fridge to check, and the CO2 can is empty! Both gauges are at zero, and when I pulled the pressure relief valve on the keg, nothing came out. Dammit! In my haste to get the set-up out of the fridge, I knocked the can over and broke my regulator. :(

One regulator plus one CO2 refill later, I try again. All goes well, and for a week I have glorious homebrew on tap. Then, on Sunday night, my wife's family came over for dinner and I showed off the set-up to my brother-in-law. We have a few pints, then I go to bed. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Yesterday, the pressure in the keg reads zero and total psi left in the tank reads under 200! What happened?

Today, I get the tank refilled, and again can't get a good seal - the pressure relief valve is leaking this time. Finally, I manage to get everything hooked up and no longer feel/hear/see (using soapy water) any leaks. I leave it alone, and brew my Irish Stout.

Go downstairs a few hours later, and I've lost about a hundred psi from the tank! And no pressure in the keg when I pull the relief valve.

So, what's the next step, guys? Ditch that keg? I have another empty one - do I fill it with water, hook it up to the tank, and test that one overnight? Order repair parts for the one bad keg? If so, what parts?

UPDATE: just went down to test it out again. Hooked everything back up, gas in the regulator (600 psi in the tank), set the keg to 12 psi, then flipped the lever send the gas down the line into the keg. The gauge for the keg slowly crept DOWN to zero psi, over about ten seconds. I'm thoroughly stumped now...
 

Bernie Brewer

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It's not necessarily the keg. It could be the regulator, or the hook-up to the tank. Make up a solution of really soapy water, and brush it on every single joint in the gas line as well as the tanks. Where you see bubbles, you have leaks. Of course, you'll need another fresh gas tank for this.........
 

mr x

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Do you have access to an air pig or a small air compressor? It may be cheaper to help troubleshoot this problem. Some keg lube may be in order as well.
 

Poindexter

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1. Did you put new Orings in the keg? Just asking. Any time I get "another" keg I just spend the six bucks and start with new Orings.

2. When you had the soapy water thing going - did you check the tank to regulator conenction - and every other connection all the way out to and including the tap?

3. I am guessing your current CO2 tnak is about empty. Someday I will have a scale that can weigh the full tank, then as it nears empty I can weigh it again to see if the right number of pounds are missing as dispensed CO2.

4. What are you using for keg lube - Oring lube?
 

missing link

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I had a similar problem and found that my regulator and manifold were both under taped and under torqued from where ever I bought them. Spray bottle of water and a teaspoon or 2 of soap in the bottle helped me. I just kept spraying and looking and I eventually found the bubbles coming from the threaded pipe fittings.
 

BierMuncher

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Sorry to be so blunt, but you've simply failed at finding the leak.

You have a leak. You haven't found it.

Disassemble everything.
Hook up one component at a time and test with soapy water.
Don't move on to the next component until your 110% satisfied nothing is leaking.

If all else seems to fail, dunk your keg rig into a tub of water under pressure and look for bubbles.
 
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NOVA Brewer

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BierMuncher said:
Sorry to be so blunt, but you've simply failed at finding the leak.

You have a leak. You haven't found it.
Don't worry about being blunt - I can take it. :mug:

These are all good ideas, folks. I have the keg off of the gas for now. Tomorrow after work, I'll break everything down, and start testing from the regulator on out.

I'll report back on anything that I figure out.

Oh, to answer one question - I'm not using anything for keg lube right now. I know the leak isn't at the o-ring, so I didn't worry about getting any. Should I?
 

jdoiv

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I would get some keg lube and put it on on the lid o-ring for sure if you are having problems getting it to seat.

Your gauge is going to show you loosing some pressuer when you put the CO2 tank into the fridge. Don't worry, you didn't loose any CO2 it just doesn't have as much pressure in the tank when it is cold. but the tank should still have 5 pounds in it. You can always weigh your tank to see how much you have. The tare weight should be stamped on the top of the tank.

I would tighten down all the hose clamps from the regulator to the keg disconnect just to be safe. Also, you may want to check the regulator and look to make sure there is a plastic washer inside the fitting between the regulator and the tank. If you don't get a good seal there, you will drain the tank fairly quickly. Also, make sure the posts are on nice and snug on the keg.
 

malkore

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taydawg197 said:
did you try putting Teflon tape on all the fittings?
especially if your gas and beer line connections to the quick disconnects are flared compression fittings. wrap those extra thick with teflon tape.

check things like poppet valves too. get some keg lube. Williams Brewing sells some nice keg lid o-rings that are extra fat, and a little softer than 'normal', and they help old kegs get a good seal. I had two problematic lid seals that were fixed with these.

sometimes just cleaning and re-lubing the safety valve fixes it (most of them just unscrew from the outside).
 

SixFoFalcon

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FWIW, I always completely disassemble and scour all my "new" kegs before even pressure testing them. The fact that they are holding pressure when you get them doesn't mean much... just that there are no gaping holes. Old rubber parts and hairline cracks in the stainless (usually at a weld) might be holding back pressure just because of soda residue or because the rubber seals have been stuck in position for so long. Once you give them a once-over cleaning and move the rubber seals around for the first time in a while, you may find new leaks.

I like to remove the poppets from the posts entirely and check the tiny little seal at the top. Usually you can tell at first glance which ones are in bad shape and are going to give you trouble down the road, even if they aren't leaking yet. A couple bucks for a replacement poppet is a small price to pay for peace of mind. The surface of the keg where the big lid o-ring mates up is a common failure point, too. Make sure there are no dents in that area. I usually wiggle the lid a bit when I'm pressurizing the keg to make sure it settles into the right place and seals well.

jdoiv said:
Also, you may want to check the regulator and look to make sure there is a plastic washer inside the fitting between the regulator and the tank. If you don't get a good seal there, you will drain the tank fairly quickly.
This highlights a common mistake. That washer gets lost easily, and many people don't realize how important it is. Make sure you use the right washer, too--it's usually leather or plastic, not rubber. It will have raised ridges that correspond to the channels in the brass parts on the regulator and bottle valve. Get a few spares from your gas supply store.

Lastly, wiggle any hose connections when you check them for leaks. Gas lines are much more susceptible to leaks at the hose barb connection than liquid lines. Sometimes everything will be sealed up fine until you bump or move a hose, and then the connection at the hose barb will start leaking.
 

Sherpa FE

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If you have a manifold with shut-off's on it. Really check it over, I got 2 from a retailer, and they both leaked BADLY. It was a manufacturing flaw, on the third one, it still leaked ever so slightly, but it was still a leak.
Check whatever components you can under water, re-teflon tape everything, and like someone said, start from the tank, add a component and when its good, move onto the next one.

Josh
 
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NOVA Brewer

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OK, after work today I got a cup with some soapy water, a brush, and went down to the basement. Took everything apart, and started to test.

I tightened all the tube clamps first, on each section of the rig. Then I replaced the nylon washer inside my regulator (which had shipped with it) with the washer given to me at the gas supply store where I swap out my tanks. Put the regulator on, made sure it was holding pressure, and slathered everything with soap.

No leaks.

OK, I put on the gas line, and hooked up the disconnect to the keg. I covered every connection and seal on the keg - the disconnects, the o-ring, the relief post & valve, etc. with soap. Turned the psi to 20 to make sure to get a seal, and hit the gas.

Heard the air rush in, could feel the leak from the lid, then the o-ring sealed and everything quieted down as it should. Didn't notice anything, so I watched it for a minute until it got quiet... too quiet. :p

I pulled the relief valve to make sure pressure was in the keg, and to see if it would reseat properly. Yes to both. THEN I noticed, as the gas came back in for equilibrium, tiny bubbles around the base of the air disconnect. Aha! I put some more soap on and, sure enough, a leak between the disconnect and post.

I pulled it off, and made sure it wasn't the post/lock itself. Nope, no leak. I put the disconnect back on and was very careful to get a good seal. This time, no bubbles.

The rig is on my workbench downstairs right now. I'm going to leave it overnight to make sure it holds pressure. We'll see...
 

SixFoFalcon

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That means, most likely, the post just wasn't tight enough.

It could also be a faulty o-ring on the gas-in dip tube. What is supposed to happen is that when you tighten the post down against the keg body, inside the poppet seat area of the post is also pushing down on the gas dip tube. This squeezes the o-ring so it bulges out and seals against the inside diameter of the post, creating a good seal. Inspect the o-ring, looking for cracks, tears, etc. Also check the inside of the post for chunks of dried rubber. If all looks good, put a dab of keg lube on the o-ring and try sealing it up again.

Other possibilities are a leaky weld where the threaded fitting is welded to the keg body (that would be about 1 in a million though) or a gouge/scratch on the inside of the post. This can happen if someone is careless when replacing or servicing the poppet itself, but it's really hard to mess it up to the point where it won't seal properly. I'm betting the post just wasn't tightened enough or the o-ring was faulty.
 

missing link

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The keg lube makes a huge difference.

Makes it easier to get the disconnect all the way on and seated
keeps the o-rings soft and pliable
fills any pin hole leaks

Just don't put to much on, it makes for flaoties in your beer that look alot like boogers. It doesn't go over so well with guests......

don't ask how I know that.
 

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