Tip: Checking for Draft System CO2 Leaks – the Pressure Gauge Method

cln_img_0274Pictured: Spunding Valve – See: Build a Spunding Valve

The standard method of checking for kegerator CO2 leaks seems to be… spray everything with Star San solution (diluted of course) and look for bubbles.  That’s a great technique.

There is one place that this method doesn’t really work…. the keg’s gas post.  That spot is only in play when your gas QD is engaged.  The kicker is… when the gas QD is on, you can’t see underneath it to check for bubbles.

The “pressure gauge method” can check the entire including gas QD connection and any connected tubing without soaking everything and the resulting clean up.

My process for that…

  • Charge your keg with CO2 as usual.  Use your usual serving pressure.  Overpressurizing can mask leaks that may otherwise show appear.
  • Remove the CO2 line and replace with a pressure gauge or Spunding Valve.
  • After the pressure has stabilized. I mark the current pressure with a wax pencil, or you can just remember what it reads
  • Wait for a couple hours to overnight to see if the gauge drops.
  • If it drops quickly, there is a leak someplace in the system.  Note: If your keg has beer in it that is uncarbonated the pressure will drop some overnight (it is equalizing and carbonating the beer).  What you don’t want is a quick drop in pressure.
  • This technique tests the entire keg including the gas post, o-ring, QD and any tubing that’s connected.
  • In my experience, over long periods of time there will be some slow gauge movement.  I don’t know if these are micro leaks or temperature related, but I’m not really concerned with that, I am looking for a relatively quick drop in pressure.  Something that shows up within a couple hours.

This technique also has the advantage of saving Star San and saving some clean up that’s required when you soak gear in Star San.

If the CO2 gauge method indicates a leak, you can start spraying Star San at that point.  If you cannot find the leak, I would suggest changing your gas post o-ring to see if that’s the culprit.

This is one of the uses of a Spunding Valve – See: Build a Spunding Valve.  You can also buy a gauge [Ball Lock QD Adjustable Pressure Valve W/Gauge] or make a gauge assembly for this purpose.

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