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First time keg attempt and some questions

I recently received a kegerator (an Edgestar KC1000 series), with a ball lock 5 gallon keg and a 5lb CO2 bottle. I was excited to start brewing with a keg, as I’ve been doing bottles now for a few years, so I brewed up a batch and then put the beer in the keg after secondary, following all the instructions and reading as much as I could online as well.

It was a disaster. I lost the batch entirely. The CO2 would leak out within a few hours, and I could never figure out where the problem was.

So, I resolved to try to solve this issue before putting more beer in there. My question is essentially this: is it a good idea to use water in the keg to try to isolate leaks and ensure a good, solid hookup? What I’d like to do is fill the keg with water, hook the CO2 to it, and then work on isolating any leaks, replacing hoses or o-rings or anything else. That way I don’t lose a batch of beer in the process.

If that doesn’t work, or isn’t recommended, is there another way?

You don’t really have to fill it with any liquid to test for a gas leak. Get a spray bottle with starsan or soapy water and spray all connections while youre hooked up to the gas and they should bubble wherever you have a leak. My corny kegs leak around the fill seal the most until I pull them tightly upward and seat them so to speak every single time I refill the.

A few questions:

How did you carbonate your beer? You say you put the beer in the keg, but then the CO2 leaked out within a few hours. Did you use sugar to carb or were you hoping to force carb your beer? My SOP is to put two fresh kegs into kegerator, set regulator at 30 psi for a day or two, then turn it down to 20 psi for 2-3 days, then set to serving pressure (on my system that’s about 8-9 psi) and pour a sample. Typically at that point I can let it sit at serving pressure until it’s done.

Did you set your CO2 and then turn off your tank? I am curious how you lost the batch entirely and how the CO2 would leak out within a few hours. Did you bleed out your entire CO2 tank? As Grantmesteven said, a spray bottle with sanitizer or soapy water sprayed onto connections while the CO2 is hooked up will show any leaks in your system. A few more pieces of information may help diagnose the issue.

:beers:
Rad

When you say you lost the whole batch, it leaked out into your kegerator? And then the CO2 tank emptied? ( I’ve been there) That sucks.

Based on that scenario I would imagine that you must have hooked up your beverage out line, likely with a cobra tap. Those SOB’s will leak!

I wouldn’t hook up the beverage line until you are ready to serve, for one thing. If it was leaking out the tap, replace it.

OR maybe I misunderstood?

Finally, Keglube is a wonderful thing.

I second keg lube too! Did you take your keg apart to clean it before use? And I’ve gotten in the habit of turning up the pressure up to 30 psi or more to seat the lid… Sometimes I have to twist and pull such as Grant speaks of, to get a good seal… Sneezles61

@Radagast - I was hoping to force carbonate it, rather than do the usual sugar method when bottling. My plan was to do basically the same thing you describe - put the psi high for a couple days, then lower it over a few more days. As for setting the CO2 then turning off the tank, no. In fact, I didn’t realize I could - or should - do that… I thought I had to leave the CO2 pressure from the tank on the whole time the beer was in the keg. And yes, I bled out the entire CO2 tank.

@Voodoo_Donut - some did leak out of the keg into the kegerator, but it wasn’t that bad… it didn’t gush out. I did have my beverage line hooked up while this process was going on. I never thought about leaving it unattached until ready to check it after force carbonating.

@ Sneezles61 - Oh yes, I cleaned everything. I’m really paranoid about contamination, so I pretty much tend to over-clean most of the time, without really intending to. I didn’t twist or pull the lid though after connecting the CO2; again, that’s something I didn’t think of (comes with experience I guess).

I did try the soap and spray bottle method to check for leaks, but I’m guessing I didn’t do it well enough at all. Once everything was hooked up, I put the psi up to about 30 (as I recall, close to that at least - it’s been a while since this happened). I noticed that the psi wouldn’t stay there, it would slowly ebb off from 30. So I kept trying to make sure the seals were good and then I’d try again with the same result. In the middle of all this I was trying the soap / spray bottle method as well. The entire hose setup was connected.

Is it possible that the CO2 could have leaked from the tap itself? Or does that seal well enough that it shouldn’t have an issue?

And I’ll definitely look into Keg Lube - thanks for the tip there!

Rubber washer where the gauges attach to the valve body… Don’t use the he felt ones… Sneezles61

If the tap leaks beer would be coming out. 30psi will find a leak for sure. You can leave the gas on once find your leaks. If your regulator is dropping you have leak. Disconnect the keg and turn on the gas. If it still drops it’s not the keg.

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Take pics of your system and upload them. It will help us isolate some of the culprits.

A leak will bubble underwater. If you have a long enough gas hose, you can submerge the whole keg in a tub full of water while its connected to the CO2 and look for bubbles. Do not put your CO2 regulator under water however.

Its also possible that the gas leak is not at the keg but at the tank connection, from the regulator, or at the regulator to hose connection.

As @Grantmesteven said above, There’s no need to have any liquid in the keg to check for gas leaks. It’s probably easier if you don’t. Remember that forced carbonation causes CO2 to be dissolved into the liquid so if you pressurize a keg filled with an un-carbonated liquid and then close the CO2 tank valve, the keg pressure will drop slowly as the CO2 dissolves into the liquid. In your case, if an entire CO2 tank emptied, your certainly have a leak.

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Get a spray bottle from the dollar store and fill it with dish soap and water. Make the solution kind of “thick” using more soap than you would for dishes.That’s the easiest way to find a leak. Pump the pressure up and spray everything.

I had a regulator that leaked from inside. You really don’t want to soak them but when I sprayed the back of it sure enough it bubbled through one of the holes.

Another thing you will find you need, if you already don’t have one is a spare CO2 tank. They somehow know it is Sunday, you have a house full of people drinking your homebrew and the CO2 guy is closed.

The gasket on the lid will seal much easier if it is wet. Starsan solution works great but just water will work. If it’s not seated just right, it will leak.

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