How to Fix a Leak In Your Kegging System

Your beer masterpiece is ready for its debut. Friends have gathered in anticipation. Pint glass in hand, you crack the tap and you have no pressure! Don’t panic, let’s take a little time to diagnose the problem and find a solution. You should be able to find and fix a leak in a jiffy and get back to enjoying your beer.

So grab your Teflon plumber’s tape, o-rings /gaskets appropriate for your set up, poppets, wrench(es), soapy water, foam bush or other applicator, towel(s), keg lube, and grease pencil.

Caution: This is a pressurized system…treat it carefully. Make sure your gas is off, and pressure released before beginning any maintenance.Kegging central REPAIR

Prepare Your System For Repairs

You'll need to prep your system first. Turn off the CO2 and disconnect everything carefully. Inspect all the fittings and connectors and clean all debris. O-rings should be in good condition without damage or cracks. Replace any that look suspicious now instead of when they fail. Work the connectors by hand to be sure they are not hanging up. Do the same to the poppets (carefully in case there is still pressure in the keg). Tighten everything snugly, then reassemble, putting the fittings on firmly and making sure they are well seated. The fixes described are for a “soda keg” system.

likely leak locations diagram

Leak Location Identification

First off, if it clicks or screws together, it will have the potential to leak. The natural enemies of leaks are O-rings, Teflon tape, and a wrench, so make them your friends.

To find a leak in a pressurized system, I recommend using the technique I learned fixing flat tires and tires with slow leaks, brush on a little soapy water and look for bubbles. With at least 10 - 20 pounds of pressure on the system, take your soapy water and apply it to every fitting, connector, and around each opening into the keg and CO2 cylinder, one at a time. Flex your tubing a bit to see if that creates bubbles. Wherever you see bubbling, mark the spot(s) with a grease pencil.

Now that Any and All Leaks Have Been Found, Let's Fix Them

have replacements for any possible leakTurn off the CO2 and go back to the marked spots. If it is at a valve, remove the connector carefully. Put soapy water on and around the valve. If you get bubbles at the top of the valve, it could be the poppet is sticking. CAREFULLY depress and release the poppet to see if you can get it to seat. Did it stop leaking? If yes, reconnect and plan on replacing it when you break everything down to clean.

If it didn’t, pour a few drafts for the gathering and when the pressure has dropped, remove the valve. Next you'll want to replace the poppet, the O-ring, and wrap the threads with Teflon plumbers tape. Reassemble and re-pressurize. Test your system again to see if that resolved the leak.

If the leak is around the base where the valve enters the tank, try tightening it with your wrench and retesting. If it's still leaking, go to the preceding paragraph and try that method. By that I mean, remove the valve, apply Teflon tape, and reinstall. Retest again to see if that solved your problem.

If there are no leaks at the valve, replace the o-ring and reassemble. Turn on the CO2 and see if the leak is gone.

Connectors that screw together can also leak. If they are the culprit, turn of the CO2 and carefully unscrew. Clean thoroughly, apply Teflon tape, and reassemble, tightening firmly. Retest again. In the unlikely event there is still a leak, you may need to replace the connector.

Last is the cover into the keg. Be sure you have it on correctly. The proper position when the gas “in” valve on your right will have the bail handle pointing toward you. If it is installed correctly and it leaks, replace the o-ring or gasket and retest.

Preventive measures

You can take preventive measures to minimize future leaks. Tighten everything snugly. Put Teflon tape on all threads, and apply a bit of keg lube to o-rings and other seals.

Leaks are a fact of life with any pressurized system. Does the loss of CO2 ruin your beer? It shouldn’t. With proper re-pressurization and time, you should be able to restore the kind of bubbly goodness your brew deserves.

written by Tom Tate

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10 comments on “How to Fix a Leak In Your Kegging System”

  • If the cover to the keg leaks even with a good o-ring, check to see if the rubber protectors are damaged or missing - (they are the grey nubs in this image)

    If they are missing simply use a nickel under the bail handle contact point.
    Make sure the bail handle contact point is perpendicular to the top of the keg that will allow maximum upward pressure on the o-rings.

    "Beers"

    Reply
  • Is this true? Can you back this up with a source or reference?

    "Last is the cover into the keg. Be sure you have it on correctly. The proper position when the gas “in” valve on your right will have the bail handle pointing toward you."

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I'm also curious on this one. I've never heard that the cover's orientation was important.

      Reply
    • >>Last is the cover into the keg. Be sure you have it on correctly. The proper position when the gas “in” valve on your right will have the bail handle pointing toward you.<<

      In the image the gas in valve--notched--is on the left with bail handle towards you...

      Reply
    • No facts, but i discovered this position always sealed best through trial and error. Now all my kegs and their covers are numbered and have alignment paint marks for quit assembly. Just put the cover in, line the marks up, close tight, and no more messin with leaks and pressure fitting.

      Reply
    • I would like to see a reference also. The lid is symmetrical, so the bail can close "properly" in either direction. (On single-handled kegs it is easier to get a good grip to open a "sticky" bail if the bail handle faces opposite the keg handle.) The picture in the article shows two kegs with "properly seated" bails, However, according to the article the bail on the keg on the left (with the gas valve at the top) is pointing in the "wrong" direction.

      Reply
  • William Elwell (homebrewer_99@yahoo.com) September 27, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I know it sounds funny, but I've found that many leaks around the lid's o-ring can be fixed by tapping on the keg's rim (where the bubbles appear) with a hammer.

    Reply
  • Keep a spray bottle of properly mixed StarSan on hand (if you don't already, you'll find it very useful) and feel comfortable spraying it anywhere on your kegging system without worry to get the same bubbling affect on leaks that soap and water will give you.

    Reply
  • The covers on soda kegs fir either way. It is all a matter of preference. This article is the first time I have ever seen anyone suggest Teflon tape on keg fittings. I don't believe I will ever do this. If the prints don't do the job, they need to be replaced. Most leaks I have found are due to deteriorated o-rings, dented or bent metal or worn out fittings and the most frequent cause is the use of the wrong type of replacement part. There are several versions of kegs out there. Be sure to get replacement parts for your version.

    Reply
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