Checking for CO2 Leaks in a Homebrew Draft System
By Ray Nonnie
The method I use to find CO2 leaks or to check if my CO2 setup is performing as intended is to shut off the CO2 at the tank valve and document the gauge readings. I suggest doing this after pouring beer for the evening while not currently carbonating beer. The next day if the gauge readings are the same then your CO2 system is leak free.
If the gauge readings have dropped then the next step is to isolate the source of the leak(s). For my setup I have a 4 port manifold so I start by closing all 4 shutoffs. This will determine if the regulator, gauges or connection to the CO2 tank are leaking. If this all check out good then the work your way downstream. I start by opening each port separately to be able to determine which port(s) to investigate further.
For the suspect port(s), disconnect the CO2 connection (Ball Lock or Pin Lock) to the keg. If the CO2 pressure is holding overnight then the likely cause is the keg. If the CO2 pressure is not holding then the ball lock or pin lock connector may be the source of the leak. It is simple enough to submerge the connector into a bucket of water to look for signs of bubbles. For the ball lock connector there are two internal O-rings and either a barbed or MFL for connection to the CO2 hose.
Don’t overlook that the gas hose(s) or gas manifold can also be the source of leaking. The suspect part can be check for leaking by submerging it into a bucket of water, if convenient, or spray with either starsan or soapy water and look for signs of bubbling.
Kegs leaks can be complex since they have numerus O-rings and several threaded connections. I find that by pressuring the keg and spraying with starsan can be useful in finding the source of leak(s).
8 Tips for setting up and maintaining a Homebrewing Draft System:
Do not put Teflon tape on flare connections (MFL or CGA-320).
Don’t overtighten connections.
When putting Teflon tape on threaded connections, avoid the first or second tread, and wrap the tape in the direction so that it doesn’t unravel when screwing it in. Note that left hand threads (usually for the high pressure sides) require that the tape be wrapped in the opposite direction.
Replace suspect O-rings and/or gaskets, for O-rings, use keg lube sparingly.
Check for Keg leaks before filling with beer.
Check for CO2 leaks every time you replace a CO2 tank or when adding a new or used component to your CO2 system.
Don’t assume that you only have one leak.
Your CO2 setup should be in a well ventilated area for safety reasons.
All contents copyright 2023 by MoreFlavor Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.