Universal Poppets Tips and Tricks!

I use universal style poppets exclusively when rebuilding kegs. Finding the right OEM specific replacement poppets can be a chore. Beyond finding the right part number, these can be prohibitively expensive. Paying $10 to $14, or more, for an OEM poppet isn’t fun. In fact, if you really had to pay that, it may not even make sense to keep the keg.

Enter universal poppets.  These can be picked up at a reasonable cost, regularly under $2 each, and fit the vast majority of kegs.

Tip: Immediately Replace Universal Poppet O-Rings

I remove and discard the o-rings that come with universal poppets.  That may sound a little odd, but there are a couple issues. First, I have no idea what these are made of. They are probably okay, but I’m not sure. This is one spot that has a lot of contact with beer. I want to make sure these are food grade.  Second, when it comes time to replace these o-rings I want replacements that won’t change fit.  I’m aware of a single source for bulk food grade o-ring replacements for universal poppets. Size may vary slightly compared to OEM, so I replace these before adjusting for fit so that the replacements won’t change the way these fit. The stainless parts of universal poppets should last a long, long time, having a reliable source for replacements that you know aren’t going to change anything is a big benefit. Beyond that, being sure you’re using food grade materials at this point is worth a few cents.

OR… Universal Poppets – 304 Stainless + Food Grade Silicone! & Reliable O-Ring Replacements

universal poppetsSince this guide was published, Valuebrew has released a 304 Stainless Steel + Food Grade Silicone Universal Poppet option!

I’m excited that there’s finally there’s an option that comes with quality o-rings made from the right materials out of the box!  Beyond that, Valuebrew has pledged to always carry replacement o-rings, so you’ll always have a source when the time comes for replacements.

Universal Poppets – via Valuebrew – These are made of 304 SS and come with food grade silicone o-rings. Valuebrew has committed to always carrying replacements.

Issues With Fit

This picture is from my Step by Step Keg Rebuild How-ToJump To: Section on Poppets. The far right and far left poppets are the “OEM” poppets that came with this particular keg. The center poppet is the universal poppet I used to replace these.

The “OEM” poppets have some problems.  Beyond reeking of soda pre-mix, they are different sizes. They should be the same size. Getting a mish-mash of parts on non-rebuilt keg is common.

This photo illustrates the biggest problem I’ve had with universal poppets. Fit. Whichever of the two “OEM” poppets is correct, it’s obvious the universal poppet is too large for this keg.  That means these will be too tight. This will make engaging QDs difficult, potentially impossible.

There’s an easy fix.

Adjusting Universal Poppets for Proper Fit

Pictured: Bates Nipper Pliers – Photo from my Keg Rebuild Post – Jump To: Tips on Installing and Adjusting Universal Poppet

  • Use a pair of wire cutters or Nipper Pliers  to trim the universal poppet.  Search Amazon for “nipper pliers”.  Look for a tool that’s designed to cut nail heads.
  • Important: I suggest trimming a half coil or less and testing. You want the QD to slide on easily and for it to reliably hold pressure when the QD is off. Taking off a half of a coil and testing helps make sure you don’t end up making the poppet too loose.
  • For an illustration of this process see Tips on Installing and Adjusting Universal Poppet from my Keg Rebuild Post

Finding Universal Poppets

Bulk Food Grade Replacement O-Rings

Universal Poppet Replacement O-Rings via Valuebrew

These are available in two sizes. Valuebrew says the original size fits most universal poppet o-rings, but a smaller size is also available. The smaller size is the correct option for the 304 Stainless Steel option that Valuebrew sells.

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Removing Stubborn Poppets

Some poppets seem to be almost installed permanently in keg posts. I think this is by design and that the reason they seem to be is because they… are. I don’t like those because they’re more difficult, potentially impossible, to clean and sanitize.

I use a center punch to help dislodge hard to remove poppets the old poppet.  It usually doesn’t take a whole lot of force.  See: Removing Hard to Remove Poppets – Part of Our Keg Rebuild How-To

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions. tag:lnksfxd  toppost:poppets rs:7 #tag:tpr

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