Friday 10 March 2023

KegLand - Duotight Inline Regulator - Leak Fix

Like many others before us who have setup kegerator systems to have draft beer on tap at home, you inevitably reach a point where you want to have more than one pressure applied to one or more of your serving kegs. Different pressures will allow for different levels of carbonation, with certain styles of beer, or entirely different beverages calling for less or more carbonation. We decided we wanted a keg of Canadian Club & dry ginger ale to enjoy on tap, but this required a much higher level of carbonation since soda has significantly more fizziness than beer.

There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. The first option is to use a dual outlet primary regulator (attached to the CO2 bottle) that will allow for 2 set pressures via 2 separate gas outlet lines. This is definitely a good option, but the dual regulator setup can be quite large, and will potentially make the large gas bottle more inclined to tip over because of the additional weight hanging off one side.

We decided to go for the cheaper option, which is to use inline regulators. A single outlet from the primary regulator is then split into 2 separate lines using a "T" piece and attached to 2 separate inline regulators. Each inline regulator can then be set to the desired pressure. We use approx 13psi for beer, and want to use approx 25psi for our CC & Dry mix.

One of the most popular inline regulators currently available on the market is the KegLand Duotight Inline Regulator. They're relatively cheap and feature integrated Duotight connections (which have always worked well for us) meaning beer line can be inserted and locked into place without any additional adapters or fittings being required.

We also opted to upgrade the gauges in both regulators from the included 0-60psi analog gauges (accurate to +/- 10% of the gauge scale - so +/- 6psi) - quite a big difference when dealing with carbonation rates. We upgraded to the digital gauges which are much more accurate, and weve had good results after upgrading the gauge in our spunding valve to a digital gauge so we thought we'd give it a crack.

A quick note on installing the digital gauge, and that is to unscrew the 2 included nuts and bolts that come fitted to the digital gauge, and then fit the original screws that are included in the analog gauge when installing into the regulator. It's perhaps obvious to some, but this certainly isn't specified or detailed anywhere on the inline regulator product page.

Leaving the original nut and bolts installed will not allow the gauge to be fully seated in the regulator as you can see from the picture below. Note how the yellow seal is partly visible and the gauge isn't sitting flush?

After screwing the gauge in place using the included screws from the analog gauge, you can see it's sitting much nicer in the regulator housing.

As we all know, when installing new equipment it's always a good idea to leak test first, and frustratingly we found that after isolating both of our new inline regulators, applying pressure through them and leaving them overnight, they were leaking down to almost 0psi every single time.

We went through the standard checks - made sure our gas line connections were cut square, with no rough edges or burrs which can affect the ability of the Duotight connections to seal properly. We of course checked our gas disconnects as well using the good old water submersion test to look for bubbles and came up with nothing. We even fitted our spunding valve (fully closed off) in place of a gas disconnect as we knew the spunding valve definitely didn't leak but still got the same leaking results.

We were certain at this point that the inline regulator itself was the culprit. We tried everything including fitting both the analog and digital gauges (thinking perhaps the gauge was leaking), and applied copious amounts of keg lube to the gauge stem seal to try and seal it off if it was indeed leaking from there.

Still the leaks persisted, and perhaps against our better judgement we opted to submerge the entire regulator under water (with the analog gauge fitted). A slow but noticeable flow of bubbles appeared from outside the gauge housing, indicating that gas was perhaps leaking out of here - presumably from around the gauge stem seal then out through where the gauge slides in.

Perhaps a little unorthodox, but we decided to attempt to wrap the digital gauge itself with thread tape or plumbing tape to better seal this part and prevent any gas from escaping out via this path.

After doing so, as you'd expect it's a bit of a tight fit to get the gauge back into the regulator, but after re-fitting and pressure testing, the results were noticed immediately. Where we'd see a drop of a few tenths of a PSI within a matter of minutes after applying pressure and shutting off the gas source, we found after doing this that the inline regulator was now holding pressure - hoorah!

There's perhaps a no more satisfying feeling than fixing a problematic leak like this - and after scouring internet forums and the KegLand user group on Facebook, it's apparent that many other brewers are experiencing this same problem with some not able to find a resolution and shelving their inline regulators - something we were admittedly not far away from doing ourselves.

Thinking about gas leaks logically, and there's only a few places on the inline regulator where the gas can leak from. The Duotight fittings, which we considered unlikely after checking our connections were all cut properly and clean and there was no evidence of this from our water submersion test.

The next most likely place was the gauge stem, and we must admit that we're surprised gas was still leaking out of here after all the lube we applied which typically helps with such problems.

In any case, hopefully this will help others who may be plagued and frustrated with a leaking inline regulator.

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