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Thread: Leaky CO2

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Troy, NY
    Posts
    14

    Leaky CO2

    I'm bootstrapping a small operation, and have had two issues with CO2 leaks this summer. I carbonate and draw with 20# CO2 cylinders, and both time it drained the tank. The first one was when a barb slipped its hose, the second time it was a keg that wasn't properly sealed. I can imagine either draining a big tank if I was renting gas.

    What are the best practices for detecting leaks and keeping the system from draining completely? I get it that more care at a couple critical times would have prevented these, but life being what it is, issues are bound to happen.

    TIA,

    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Calmar Iowa U.S.A.
    Posts
    101
    You can install a low flow meter inline after the primary reg to check when you have zero usage. Like when you're about to leave for the night and aren't pouring or carbing. This will at least let you know if you have a sizeable leak.

    Besides that, check all gas fittings regularly with a spray bottle of soapy water. And as you said, take more care to prevent leaks.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,024

    Go programmatic...

    Develop a best practice for your CO2 system and buy quality components. There's some good reference materials out there for design of gas distribution systems. And some good information out there for determining what constitutes quality components. Stick with a common tubing size (or two for a larger system), tubing type, color, common fitting type, common valves. Use check valves frequently. I'd eliminate screwed hose clamps & hose barbs--even threads when I can. Use as few components as you can. And be righteous about doing the best possible job. Your failure rate should be zero. Or quickly tend strongly towards zero. There's no magic bullet to prevent a tank from going empty if the system isn't perfect. The hack that Richard suggests is easily done by turning off the gas valve on the tank and monitoring the regulator's primary gauge for half an hour or longer to see that the bit of high pressure left actually stays there. Best luck!
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
    Posts
    60
    Not sure there's really a magic bullet other than vigilance. Identify all the places that could leak, and properly seal them. Always use hose clamps, Oetiker or otherwise, even on low-pressure connections. Check everything, then check it again, then a third time. If you're using beer nuts to connect lines to keg couplers, use a wrench to make sure the gaskets (which you're using, right?) are fully engaged. And recheck all connections any time you move something, like changing or maneuvering a keg or moving a CO2 tank. Lines like to twist, and torque can loosen gas connections. Make a checklist, and stick to it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,955
    The tidier your set-up the easier it is to see when something is out of place. I've worked on a draught system that was such a tangled mess that a CO2 line was left disconnected for a week without being found. They were going through 40-60 lb of CO2/day! I took me a few minutes to trace it down by ear, then a second to turn off the valve feeding that line.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,024

    Eliminate hose clamps and hose barbs...

    I now use only push fittings with proper tubing for CO2 and air lines. Properly seated, these are much more secure than hose barbs & clamps. Much easier to disconnect too, if the need arises.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Troy, NY
    Posts
    14

    Push Fittings

    Thanks for the reassurance, guys, it's good to know that being perfect is the best option :?) I'm working on it!


    Quote Originally Posted by gitchegumee View Post
    I now use only push fittings with proper tubing for CO2 and air lines. Properly seated, these are much more secure than hose barbs & clamps. Much easier to disconnect too, if the need arises.
    What make of push fittings do you use? I've always been a bit leery, it's reassuring to squeeze down on a hose clamp and the push jobbies just seemed too easy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,955
    We use John-Guest style push fittings, but not that brand. I think most of ours are Norgren brand. With polyethylene tubing, these provide a positive seal and retention, and make it easy to swap out a line when it gets contaminated/old.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

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