Very frustrated with kegging

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quiet_dissent

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I think I've finally have reached the point where I am seriously wondering why I spent the money to by a kegerator. The time and the hassle (and the total waste of perfectly good beer!) is just as much, if not more, than bottling. I'm failing to see the allure. It seems like one needs a graduate degree of some sort to operate this thing properly. It seems like if one minor element is off, all bets are off and I'm likely to experience a sub-par experience.

I'm now onto my second batch of kegged beer that is flat as hell. The first batch of beer was likely overcarbed, so I can blame myself for that. But this new batch I used PRIMING SUGAR in the keg, let it condition for two weeks at room temperature, put the keg in the kegerator to cool, and then put the CO2 on at 8 psi. I let this sit overnight. I went to pour this afternoon and noticed that the psi regulator had moved to zero. So my first question is, why is it doing that?

Second question is -- with already primed beer, do I simply need to turn on the CO2 to pour and then shut it off otherwise?

This beer has almost no head and no bubbles rising. My previously overcarbed hefeweizen had a huge head but was flat. I made the mistake of thinking I could do the "crank it up to 30 psi!" and all would go well. Not at all. Now this primed keg is flat as well. I really don't understand this at all. Somehow I am losing carbonation from the keg into my glass.

I've checked for leaks. I've cleaned the lines thoroughly with several rounds of hot water and line cleaner. All connections are on tight. My kegerator temperature hovers between 36 and 38 degrees F. Maybe I need more line in the keg? I am just using the standard amount of line that came with the kegerator. I have a Kegco model with one tap faucet.

I'm ready to return to my tap-a-draft system. I had little to no issues with that setup and it seems to take the same amount of time as the kegerator. I think I am willing to brew one more batch and try force carbonation again with the "set it and forget it" method. If that doesn't work, I think this kegerator needs a new home.
 

sfrisby

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Are you turning on the gas then turning it off? The gas needs to stay on to maintain the pressure or the co2 will come out of solution, thus flat beer.
 

stonebrewer

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Kegging can be challenging at times, however if you stick with it you should be able to adjust things over time and figure it all out. I force carb at 20-30 PSI for about 5 days, test to see the carb level and adjust accordingly (remembering to back it down to 6-10 PSI to serve). On my system, the first pour ALWAYS has a big head on it and then subsequent pours are well carbed with little to no head if I pour down the side of the glass.
 
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quiet_dissent

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No -- I'm leaving the gas on. However, overnight, the regulator did something odd and dropped out to zero psi. I'm not 100% sure I understand why it is doing that.

Thanks for helping me troubleshoot and think things through.
 

sfrisby

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quiet_dissent said:
No -- I'm leaving the gas on. However, overnight, the regulator did something odd and dropped out to zero psi. I'm not 100% sure I understand why it is doing that.

Thanks for helping me troubleshoot and think things through.
Ruling out the obvious stuff first, is the gauge reading 0 because it ran out of gas and your dealing with an empty tank?
 

terrapinj

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No -- I'm leaving the gas on. However, overnight, the regulator did something odd and dropped out to zero psi. I'm not 100% sure I understand why it is doing that.

Thanks for helping me troubleshoot and think things through.
you likely don't have a good seal for the lid or else there is a leak somewhere else. some kegs need to be sealed ~30psi to set the lid correctly

i had a similar issue when trying to natural carb with sugar but because the lid didn't seal perfectly it just fermented out and remained flat.
 

stpug

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Obviously I don't know what's happening on your end, but here are my guesses:

-Priming sugar in keg: It will require AT LEAST 2 weeks at room temperature (70s) to carbonate (i.e. keg condition) and more likely it will require longer (3 or better yet 4 weeks).

-If keg conditioning (i.e. using priming sugar in keg) then you will need to make sure you seal the keg lid by pressurizing the keg under good pressure (30psi) for a minute or two. If you fail to do this then any carbonation created by the priming sugar will likely just escape out the slight gaps around the lid O-ring. I'm suspecting that you may have forgotten this step since you didn't mention it above.

-If you forget to seal the lid when keg conditioning, don't worry. You can simply force carb your keg using CO2 and most likely the resulting beer is still fine since you've likely had outward pressure inside the keg the whole time.

-When you connected your (possibly) unsealed keg to your co2 tank it's possible that the remaining gas in the tank simply escaped through the lid gaps leaving you with an empty co2 tank which would explain why you're seeing 0 on the regulator.

This is how I carb a keg using CO2 (hybrid between set-and-forget and burst carbing:
-Transfer from fermenter to keg.
-Affix keg lid.
-Purge keg using CO2 a few times to remove excess air/oxygen from headspace
-Pressurize keg with 30psi for a few minutes to seal lid (no shaking, just attach gas disconnect and let sit)
-Vent a small amount of CO2 one last time (just a little bit this time)
-Turn regulator to 20psi and affix to keg and put the keg INSIDE kegerator
-Leave it in fridge at 20psi for 2 days
-Remove gas disconnect
-Vent a small amount of CO2 again
-Turn regulator to serving pressure (6-10psi)
-Re-affix disconnect
-Pull a sample and enjoy 85% carbed beer
-Over the next few days it will level out to 100% carbonation.
 

stonebrewer

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Sounds like you leaked all of your CO2 out...if your keg does not properly seal, it will bleed out in no time. Also check all the fittings on your regulator. I had one of them suddenly start spewing CO2 one day ( glad i was there to witness and fix it!!). One minute it was fine, then it started leaking. Weird!
 
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quiet_dissent

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There is CO2 in my tank, so I'm good there. I checked again for leaks with soapy water and didn't see anything suspect.

As suggested by a few folks, a CO2 leak from the lid might be the culprit. I did use CO2 to bleed out O2, but didn't set the pressure that high and did not leave it for a minute or two. Thus, the lid probably did not receive a proper seal. With that in mind, I will go forward as if I am force carbonating and will assume the CO2 from the priming sugar has found something better to do.

I should qualify the regulator issue. The psi gauge has dropped to zero a few times, even on kegs that were appropriately carbonated. So while I don't have the best grasp on kegging, I am also thinking some of this is also a regulator issue. Or I am really good at externalizing blame.

Final question: is there a significant difference in carbonation by putting the CO2 tank in the kegerator? I'm interested in the rationale.

Thanks for the help!
 

vNmd

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Subscribed. I just got a kegco 2 tap system and am troubleshooting leaking co2.
 

stonebrewer

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You should have two dials on your regulator. One tells the pressure of the CO2 in the bottle. Is this the one going to zero? If so, you have a defective regulator dial. If it is the keg dial, that can happen a number of ways but generally is pointing to a leak in the keg from all the other details...
 

Jimmyjim

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There is CO2 in my tank, so I'm good there. I checked again for leaks with soapy water and didn't see anything suspect.

If your keg didn't seal when you racked the beer to it, well, that's where all your CO2 went.

As suggested by a few folks, a CO2 leak from the lid might be the culprit. I did use CO2 to bleed out O2, but didn't set the pressure that high and did not leave it for a minute or two. Thus, the lid probably did not receive a proper seal. With that in mind, I will go forward as if I am force carbonating and will assume the CO2 from the priming sugar has found something better to do.
Some keg lids will seal with very little pressure, some take quite a bit more. I just use 30 psi everytime and then I don't have the worry.

I should qualify the regulator issue. The psi gauge has dropped to zero a few times, even on kegs that were appropriately carbonated. So while I don't have the best grasp on kegging, I am also thinking some of this is also a regulator issue. Or I am really good at externalizing blame.
First off, depends on how many gauges your regulator has. Barring that, the regulator gauge showing ZERO is suspect, especially if there is CO2 in the tank. Bad gauge, maybe. Everytime my tank pressure gauge has indicated ZERO, it's because there was ZERO CO2 remaining. Also, the pressure gauge tells you nothing about the current or actual carbonation level in your keg, just how much pressure you are applying to the keg. Again, I am talking about the pressure gauge, not the tank indicator, if your regulator is dual gauge.

Final question: is there a significant difference in carbonation by putting the CO2 tank in the kegerator? I'm interested in the rationale.
No, it makes no difference in the final product.
Now, if the keg is in the kegarator while you are carbing, then that does make a difference.
Use one of the online calculators for kegging pressure calculations.


Hope that helps......
 

n240sxguy

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Subscribed. Curious of the co2 tank inside vs outside. I have a keezer, and I just moved my tank outside. Inside the pressure never got above 750. Outside it is 1450. I'm also having what seems like more difficulty with the latest batch since I moved the tank. Lots of foam. Not so much carbonation.
 

mikescooling

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Are you using new or old kegs? It sounds like you have a leak or bad regulator, it should not be at zero. When I put the lid on my corny kegs I do it with the gas on and purge the keg and at the same time, the gas helps the lid seal (some of my lids only go on one way). I've also had problems with popets and gaskets. If your kegs are old you may want to break them down and check or replace the O-rings.
 

terrapinj

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Subscribed. Curious of the co2 tank inside vs outside. I have a keezer, and I just moved my tank outside. Inside the pressure never got above 750. Outside it is 1450. I'm also having what seems like more difficulty with the latest batch since I moved the tank. Lots of foam. Not so much carbonation.
the only difference it makes is the high pressure gauge reading, cold tank = lower reading but those gauges are pretty worthless anyways until you are just about out of co2 - it has no effect on the carbonation process
 
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quiet_dissent

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I have a dual gauge regulator. The gauge indicating tank pressure has remained in the "green" region; it is the pressure gauge (i.e., what I use to set pressure on the keg) that is dropping to zero overnight. I bought my kegerator setup from Beverage Factory and called them to discuss the potential regulator issue. Again, it could be something I am doing (e.g., not rightfully sealing my keg) but I think signs are pointing to a faulty or inaccurate pressure gauge. The Beverage Factory folks agreed it is possible and seeing my warranty is still good, they are sending a replacement.

As for the keg, this is the second time I've used it. It's a Kegco, also from Beverage Factory, and was brand new when purchased. I've taken some sage advice and use food-grade lube on all of my O-rings.

Going back, though, I think why I do not currently have good carbonation is an interaction between insufficient seal with priming sugar ("the great carbonation escape") along with regulator issues. Or at least that is what I am entertaining based on thread responses.

Thanks again!
 

n240sxguy

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terrapinj said:
the only difference it makes is the high pressure gauge reading, cold tank = lower reading but those gauges are pretty worthless anyways until you are just about out of co2 - it has no effect on the carbonation process
That's what I assumed would be the only difference. Still seems odd. I'm probably just too impatient.
 
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