Anyone own a kegerator? I could use some help.

(Topic ID: 200678)

Anyone own a kegerator? I could use some help.


By Grinder901

9 months ago



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#1 9 months ago

Ok so I bought this house a few years ago and it came with a kegerator. It hadn’t been used in a while and so I bought all new tubes, a new stand, filled a CO2 canister up and rented two pony kegs.

I hooked everything up without really knowing what I was doing. I bought this device which the kegerator plugged into which enabled me to control what temperature the kegerator stays. If the temperature gets too high, it would allow the machine to cool down and if it got too cold, it would cut off. I have it set at 38 degrees. Once the beer started pouring, I felt like one of the beers tasted flat and had it switched out but even the new one tasted flat to me. The beers would also come out super foamy with a ton of head.

A few months went by and I’m about to host a party so I wanted to order two new beer pony kegs. I opened the kegerator and was shocked to see this huge block of ice in the kegerator. I had to cut the machine off to let the ice block melt. I got a new keg and another is on its way. I hooked up a new CO2 canister and again, the bear is super foamy and tasted flat. I can already see new ice forming on the back wall of the kegerator.

I tried to test the beer today and nothing was coming out. I made sure the CO2 was on and the line was open. I pulled this tab on the tap and air began escaping and then the beer started to pour again.

What the hell am I doing wrong?

Why did the ice block form? Why is the beer coming out flat and foamy?

Can anyone offer any advice?

#2 9 months ago

What pressure is it set?

#3 9 months ago

If it’s all foamy then your CO2 is escaping leaving you with flat beer

I don’t own a kegerator but this might help.

http://www.micromatic.com/forum/us-en/forum/forum-guidelines-read-this-before-posting/7117-read-this-before-posting?t=6950

#4 9 months ago

open both valves on the co2 tank, turn the main top valve to the left to open the air and the little side knob with a flat head screw driver or fingers to the left to read 8 on the pressure gauge. The few first poors will be foamy every time you use it but flawless after that. Temperature should be at 37-42 degrees, meaning 37 degrees craft beer and 42 degrees light beer.

#5 9 months ago

Ice is due to your door not sealing, or air entering through your top post.
The ice stems from the humidity in the outside air.

#6 9 months ago
Quoted from DerGoetz:

Ice is due to your door not sealing, or air entering through your top post.
The ice stems from the humidity in the outside air.

the above is important.
also people don't understand the work involved in kegerators. the lines should be cleaned every 2 weeks (4 weeks at the worse.) Beer is a living organism, and if you don't flush/clean the lines religiously, the beer will taste badly. Also all metal fixtures should be stainless steel (not chrome plated brass.) And if the tower isn't well insulated and cold (sometimes via an internal fan), the first couple of pours will be foamy.

Kegerators are a lot of work to keep up. It sure is easier to open a bottle. Kegs were invented for high volume applications. Not basements where you pour a beer once a week. Though i really do like draft beer, the work and expense in a kegerator makes it questionable to own.

#7 9 months ago

Thanks everyone. I thought I included a bunch of pictures.

I’ll check the CO2 setting as well. As far as air getting into the kegerator, the seal around the door seems good but the hole in the top is an issue but I tried to cover it up as much as I could.

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#8 9 months ago

Ok I noticed the hole that the tubes go through, isn’t covered anymore. I thought it was. I’ll get that covered today

#9 9 months ago

I always thought you keep the CO2 bottle out in the atmosphere.

That block of ice is on the Evaporator. I've seen blocks of ice form over the Evaporator in refrigerators when the refrigerant charge is low.

#10 9 months ago
Quoted from cfh:

And if the tower isn't well insulated and cold (sometimes via an internal fan), the first couple of pours will be foamy

Once you figure out your ice & flat beer problems, this will probably be the next thing to tackle to help with the foam issue. Even with an insulated tower, I had to blow air up the tower (I bought a kit specifically designed for this but I've heard a cheap computer fan will do the job as well) to keep the lines cold all the way to the tap which significantly reduced foam.

#11 9 months ago

I had these issues when I first set mine up a few years ago.

The block of ice issue was solved by putting a small pc fan inside the cabinet to circulate the air a bit.

The foamy pours stopped when i added a tower cooler which keeps the beer line in the tower cold all the way to the shank.

The beer inside chest might be 38 but by the time it hits your glass it is probably closer to 42. Too much of a difference in temp and the co2 breaks out into foam.

I have since had to replace my kegerator and bought a commercial perlick model that comes standard with these features and they work like a charm.

Good luck!

#12 9 months ago

Your kegerator looks to be of the water cooled variety. They often suffer from improper cooling and circulation. Too warm and the beer is foam, too cold and the beer is flat. The rime/hoar frost accumulation towards the back will just make things worse.

You will need to develop a method to circulate the cooled air inside and amongst your kegs. Typically you can splice a common computer cooling fan in there. They are low voltage and motivate the air property. You should soon find it gets too cool inside.
Keep a thermometer near the front and higher up if possible for a reasonable indication of overall temperature.

I own 2 kegerators, had precisely your problem early on with my first.

#13 9 months ago

Thanks to everyone chiming in with help.

There really is no telling how old this kegerator is. Replacing it with a newer, better model may be an option down the line.

I covered up the holes on the inside top of the unit. I also tweaked the CO2 bring it down under 10.

I’ll see what I can do about a fan to circulate the air better in there. Other than sticking a portable fan in there, I’m not sure how to insert one inside the unit.

I had to go to work but I poure a glass and there did seem to be more carbonation but still a ton of foam.

This tab that I’m pointing to. What does this do? Let out the CO2 to bleed the line or let the air bubbles out?

I’ll lower the temperature a few degrees to see if that helps keep it cool as it goes up the line. I’ll keep working on it guys. Thank you

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#14 9 months ago

Also check for a kink in the line. That, and not the right amount of pressure or warm temperature will cause excessive foam. The beer should sort of "fall out of the faucet" clear, no foam.

#15 9 months ago

Most craft beers have published recommended temp and pressure for serving. You could also call and ask.

When you make temp changes you usually will need a pressure change as well.

I never had much luck under 10psi - keg usually will go flat quicker. Most seem to run fine in the 10-13 psi range.

Airflow inside and getting that faucet temp as close to the inside temp is critical.

Pour a beer and stick a temp probe in it, I’m going to bet you have a 3-5 degree temp difference from what your reading inside .which is huge and causing co2 instability.

#16 9 months ago

Well some progress. Now that the holes have been covered up, the ice has melted from the back panel. I’ve lowered the temperature so I’ll see if that helps with the foaming

#17 9 months ago
Quoted from Donnyman:

open both valves on the co2 tank, turn the main top valve to the left to open the air and the little side knob with a flat head screw driver or fingers to the left to read 8 on the pressure gauge.

8 PSI @ 38 degrees will be undercarbed for most beers. Here's a table that shows you how to dial that in specifically.

http://www.kegerators.com/carbonation-table.php

If you can't find a specific carbonation level for your specific beer, a good rule of thumb is 2.5 vols carbonation for run of the mill ales and lagers (which is 11 PSI @ 38 degrees). If that's consistently pouring too fast or foamy, you probably need longer beer lines.

Quoted from Donnyman:

Temperature should be at 37-42 degrees, meaning 37 degrees craft beer and 42 degrees light beer.

Just the opposite -- you want to serve light beer ice cold (because it tastes crappy and you're hiding that with coldness) and good beer a bit warmer (try it out, you can taste so much more of the beer's flavor as it warms up in your glass).

Quoted from cfh:

people don't understand the work involved in kegerators. the lines should be cleaned every 2 weeks (4 weeks at the worse.) Beer is a living organism, and if you don't flush/clean the lines religiously, the beer will taste badly.

Maybe if you have crappy lines or something and are getting a "vinyl" type taste. Otherwise this is not true. I home brew and am quite picky about the flavor of my beer, and I DO NOT clean the lines every two weeks -- only when I'm swapping kegs, which is often several months in between. The lines will be full of beer at all times, and the beer keeps fine in refrigerated lines just as it does in your refrigerated keg.

Quoted from cfh:

if the tower isn't well insulated and cold (sometimes via an internal fan), the first couple of pours will be foamy.

True, though it's probably just the first half-pint that'll be foamy as the warm beer clears the lines.

Quoted from cfh:

Kegerators are a lot of work to keep up. It sure is easier to open a bottle. Kegs were invented for high volume applications. Not basements where you pour a beer once a week. Though i really do like draft beer, the work and expense in a kegerator makes it questionable to own.

Meh, it's more work than opening a bottle but it's really not that bad. You do want to think a bit about how you'll be using the kegerator (i.e. if you drink infrequently, you'll want to buy the nicer self-sealing taps that won't seize up if they aren't used every few days). But my kegerator is pretty low maintenance, and I've got delicious draft beer on tap when I want it.

#18 9 months ago

I'd bet a lot of your foaming problems would be solved by looking at the length of your serving lines. Short lines are the number one cause of foaming, and lots of stores will unfortunately sell you lines that are suboptimally short. It seems crazy, but 10'-12' lines (assuming you're using 3/16" ID tubing) will solve a lot of foaming problems. If you start with lines of that length, you can always trim them down a bit at a time if you're finding the pour is too slow.

Here's a thread with some discussion on the topic (and a link to a serving line length calculator, if you want to play around with that):
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=510451

While you're at it, make sure you're getting "beer tubing" like the stuff in the following link, not just random vinyl tubing from your local Home Depot, which will give you more plasticy off-flavors even if it's rated "food safe":
http://www.birdmanbrewing.com/beer-tubing-3-16-id/

Quoted from Grinder901:

This tab that I’m pointing to. What does this do? Let out the CO2 to bleed the line or let the air bubbles out?

That releases the CO2 from the headspace of the keg (the CO2 that's in gaseous form above the beer). If you pull it when your CO2 tank is connected, it'll immediately be replenished so you're just wasting CO2. If you pull it when the keg is not connect to the CO2 tank, and either leave it open or repeatedly vent the keg, you're removing CO2 from the beer (which is good if you've overcarbed it).

Quoted from Grinder901:

I’ll see what I can do about a fan to circulate the air better in there. Other than sticking a portable fan in there, I’m not sure how to insert one inside the unit.

NOTE: It's definitely not a bad idea to address temperature differential in your tower, as this will cause foaming in the first beer you pour after not having one for a while. BUT, this WILL NOT address your issues if you keep getting foamy pours beer after beer -- for that, you're going to want to address your serving line length. Trust me, it really matters!

That said, you'd be looking for something like this: amazon.com link »
(if you're a cheapskate like me, you can also buy a $5 CPU fan on ebay, or strip one from an old computer, and splice the power supply onto an old wall wart power adapter). Aim it up into the tower if possible or just aim it anywhere in the kegerator, the point is to circulate air to keep temps consistent throughout (even without a tower, it can easily be 5-10 degrees colder at the bottom than the top of a kegerator). Of course you'll have to figure out how to route the power cord.

A final note on fridge temp, if you tape your thermostat to the side of one of the kegs it'll cycle less frequently (air temp inside the fridge is more variable than the keg temp), which will extend the life of your kegerator and keep your beer at a more consistent temp.

#19 9 months ago

Good read! Good luck Grinder!

#20 9 months ago

The tower on mine was very poorly insulated. I built mine into my bar. I put the beer tubing inside an aluminum pipe,insulated it inside PVC pipe. Added insulation in the tower . I run about 12 psi on the co2 with a 20 lb bottle outside the kegarator. I clean my lines at the keg swap. The first shot of beer of the evening will be a bit foamy. For me too much or too little co2 pressure would cause foaming. Best of luck resolving your problems and enjoy a cold beer.
Sputnik

#21 9 months ago

Fasaisu nailed it length and internal diameter of your hose does matter . Also if you notice bubbles in your beer line , you most likely have a leak somewhere and will either need to tighten something up or replace a gasket .

#22 9 months ago

Also the Sankey coupler is a little different for domestic and imports , make sure you have the proper coupler for the keg style .

#23 9 months ago

With mine, I always pour a pitcher first (easier with domestics than crafts) but after that pitcher is drank, pints pour out a lot better.

#24 9 months ago

My lines are probably around five feet. I’ve ordered 25 feet and will increase each line to 10 feet

Does it matter if the CO2 take is kept in the kegerator or does it do better at room temperature?

#25 9 months ago
Quoted from Grinder901:

Does it matter if the CO2 take is kept in the kegerator or does it do better at room temperature?

Doesn't matter so long as the CO2 tank is upright. I've kept mine in the kegerator for years without any problems, looks much better than a random tank sitting on the counter. People sometimes keep it outside the kegerator just to make more room for beer. But there's no science to any concerns about the cold somehow making the CO2 not carb your beer effectively (it's not going to freeze in there).

Quoted from Grinder901:

My lines are probably around five feet. I’ve ordered 25 feet and will increase each line to 10 feet.

Good call. I'd be very surprised if this doesn't turn out to have been your problem. You'll probably still get a foamy pour on the first beer of the day (due to temp differential in the lines in the tower), but should be good after that.

#26 9 months ago

If you don't wasn't to mess with it I know in Cali we have places that deliv the beer and will service your kegerator and fix whats needed ect. it cost a bit more yet its a nice service and you don't have to haul around kegs. See if you got something like the in your area.

#27 9 months ago

line length is important as previously said. Been brewing for 20 yrs and have a 4 tap keg system... make your lines 10 ft, keep the Co2 at 10-14 PSI, pour with the glass at a severe angle tilting to vertical as it fills, always open the tap ALL THE WAY- there is no half way- there is full on, and foam generator supreme.

Good luck.

#28 9 months ago

Ok I need to adjust the CO2.

This damn kegerator isn’t getting down to the lower temperature I’m asking it to. It may just be time to get a new one.

The new lines should be here sometime next week.

Yea I def know to give it a full pull. It just comes out so fast that it fills the glass so quickly. Maybe I’ll fill a pitcher instead to allow more beer to come out at one time and serve the beer from the pitcher

#29 9 months ago

It’s been several years since I worked for one of the world’s largest macro-breweries, but my foggy memory seems to recall pressure settings of around 7 for American style lagers and cleaning intervals of 4-6 weeks including a faucet breakdown. If the pour is too fast the pressure may be too high? First pour is always foamy from flushing the line.

#30 9 months ago
Quoted from Grinder901:

Ok I need to adjust the CO2.
This damn kegerator isn’t getting down to the lower temperature I’m asking it to. It may just be time to get a new one.
The new lines should be here sometime next week.
Yea I def know to give it a full pull. It just comes out so fast that it fills the glass so quickly. Maybe I’ll fill a pitcher instead to allow more beer to come out at one time and serve the beer from the pitcher

I know I sound like a broken record, but those longer serving lines are going to bring your pour speed way down by increasing resistance. You don’t want to be messing with the CO2 levels to change flow rate, CO2 adjustments should be just to change how carbonated your beer is.

As for the fridge temp, it’s certainly possible it’s just old and not up to the task of cooling. But are you still losing a lot of cold air through the tower? Seemed like you were getting a lot of humid air in that way before you taped it up so maybe there’s a hole of some kind in the tower that’s still causing a problem? What temp are you able to get down to?

#31 9 months ago

We are pinball pros with an affinity for drinking. Homebrewtalk.com has a wealth of information in their forums documenting these same issues.

#32 9 months ago
Quoted from megalo17:

We are pinball pros with an affinity for drinking. Homebrewtalk.com has a wealth of information in their forums documenting these same issues.

Yep, great resource, that’s where I turned when building my kegerator. Like here, everyone’s got an opinion so it’s easy to get lost in the threads. But tons of knowledge on balancing kegerators there.

#33 9 months ago

You guys are great and thanks for the website lead.

It’s slowly coming down and it’s around the 39 degree mark. I’m trying to get it to 34 degrees to account for the few degrees it’ll increase as it pours.

When the new lines show up, I’ll def switch them out but then I’ll have to slowly get the temperature back down to where I need it which for some reason is taking longer than I would think. It’s possible there’s another area that I’m losing coldness too. I’ll continue trouble shooting

The second pony keg should be here Monday or Tuesday

#34 8 months ago

Ok I got the second keg and actually packed several bags of ice and threw them inside to help lower the temperature.

The new lines should be here any day now. If I recall correctly when I bought this new dual tap stand, it had the lines already connected. I wonder how hard it’ll be to try to disconnect the lines from inside the tower. Could these new lines be connected to the old lines by some sort of sleeve/clamp/connector? I doubt it but these kits may come already connected for a reason, maybe it’s not possible to remove the lines?

#35 8 months ago
Quoted from Grinder901:

Ok I got the second keg and actually packed several bags of ice and threw them inside to help lower the temperature.
The new lines should be here any day now. If I recall correctly when I bought this new dual tap stand, it had the lines already connected. I wonder how hard it’ll be to try to disconnect the lines from inside the tower. Could these new lines be connected to the old lines by some sort of sleeve/clamp/connector? I doubt it but these kits may come already connected for a reason, maybe it’s not possible to remove the lines?

The lines should definitely be removable. There should be a nut on the inside that secures the faucet to the tower. You can loosen this nut and pull the faucet and line out. On my kegerator tower you could pop the top off and get a look at them.

You may need to invest in a "beer wrench" if you don't already have one.

#36 8 months ago

Well I’m an idiot. I admit it. I ordered what I thought was a standard beer line tub and today the package arrived. This tube is much smaller than the tubing I have. I’ll need to order the right stuff but it won’t arrive before the party this weekend. Oh well.

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#37 8 months ago

Check out micromatic.com they ship pretty quick.

#38 8 months ago

What size tube will I need?

#39 8 months ago

Little perplexed as to why OP is being advised to add footage to his lines? Kegarators, Draft Systems all have different variables when it comes to the length of lines! Some people have lines that run 3' and some have them that run 100'. In short the length of the line doesn't matter it's the ID of the line, length of the line and the pressure being utilized!

Everywhere you read it will tell you, more than likely, that the PSI should be 5-12 PSI. The reason for this range is twofold
1. You have to take into consideration the length and ID of the line
2. The beer that is being pushed! (different style beers require different PSI)

For more info on pressure you can read the "science" behind it at http://beersmith.com/blog/2011/07/14/keg-line-length-balancing-the-science-of-draft-beer/

Note: I have a 6 tap system in my house and the beer lines are 4' in length.

Quoted from Grinder901:

What size tube will I need?

Typically 3/16" ID but again adding length to the lines is (most likely) not going to solve the issue as you will need to adjust the pressure to meet your setup!

#40 8 months ago

That is the right/best size tubing.

If your hose fixtures are too big, you might be able to make them work. Heat the tips of the hose in boiling water for a minute or two.. this softens the plastic and you might be able to stretch it over the barbs. Depends on just how bad the ID mismatch is at the barb.

#41 8 months ago

The reason length is being talked about is that it's the the only variable that doesn't effect something else.

- beer pressure should be by beer style.. belgian beers are way more carbonated than porters, etc..
- temperature you're going to set and multiple beers will have to live with it
- pour rate should probably not be faster than a pint in ~5 seconds for foamig

I have a short line for cask style, super long for carbonated water (dabble in soda syrups as well).

#42 8 months ago

Also, is there a home brew shop in your town? They will have all these parts there if you are now backed into a corner time wise. Maybe can get 3/16 fittings if stretch trick doesn't work or they will have 1/4 ID food safe hose as well but then you prob want 20 feet.

The other thing is have you moved your thermo stat to the keg itself? Tape it to the side of the keg.. turn the fridge to Max. That will help your fridge out a lot and get you what you want. And add fan up into tower as people suggesting.

#43 8 months ago
Quoted from Grinder901:

Well I’m an idiot. I admit it. I ordered what I thought was a standard beer line tub and today the package arrived. This tube is much smaller than the tubing I have. I’ll need to order the right stuff but it won’t arrive before the party this weekend. Oh well.

So you actually bought some very high quality tubing there. It’s totally impermeable so won’t absorb flavors over time. Great stuff, it’s what I use.

But it has some drawbacks: it’s super-smooth inside so will require even longer lines to pour slowly enough to avoid foaming. I think I went with 17’ lines for my “regular” beers.

Also, it’s pretty stiff stuff. If you’re going to use it, consider making a coil secured with zip-ties that sits on top of your keg for line management purposes. If you do that, it actually takes up less space than conventional tubing since its OD is thinner.

Finally, because it’s so stiff, it will probably be a real PITA to get it connected to your sanke coupler (the “tap” on the keg) and to the beer faucet connectors up in your beer tower. Can be done using heat but I won’t lie and say it’s fun!

For the short term (party) see if you’ve got a homebrew shop that can sell you standard beer line (3/16” ID is the standard, and by dipping in warm water should be able to easily work it over your existing connectors). Then when you’re ready to replace those lines in a year and have a little time, read up on installing Bev-seal and you’ll have some premium lines on the go!

EDIT: Here's a link on installing the Bev-seal if you want to take a run at that after all, as you'll read it's totally doable, just frustrating and not something you want to do often if you can avoid it: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=431424

#44 8 months ago

Thanks again to everyone for their links, help and suggestions

#45 8 months ago
Quoted from meSz:

Little perplexed as to why OP is being advised to add footage to his lines? Kegarators, Draft Systems all have different variables when it comes to the length of lines! Some people have lines that run 3' and some have them that run 100'. In short the length of the line doesn't matter it's the ID of the line, length of the line and the pressure being utilized!
Everywhere you read it will tell you, more than likely, that the PSI should be 5-12 PSI. The reason for this range is twofold
1. You have to take into consideration the length and ID of the line
2. The beer that is being pushed! (different style beers require different PSI)
For more info on pressure you can read the "science" behind it at http://beersmith.com/blog/2011/07/14/keg-line-length-balancing-the-science-of-draft-beer/
Note: I have a 6 tap system in my house and the beer lines are 4' in length.

Typically 3/16" ID but again adding length to the lines is (most likely) not going to solve the issue as you will need to adjust the pressure to meet your setup!

You recommend "adjusting the pressure to meet his setup", but for a couple of bucks in beer hose he can adjust his setup to provide the needed resistance to meet his beer preferences (cold, perfectly carbonated, and not too foamy).

The link you posted appears to discuss the science reasonably, but the resistance factors he's using are way off, leading to ridiculously short line length suggestions. Here's a calculator that gives more legit results:
http://www.mikesoltys.com/2012/09/17/determining-proper-hose-length-for-your-kegerator/

I'm also curious about what you've got your temp and CO2 PSI set at to get acceptable pours through 4' serving lines. Is it 4' straight vertical up from the keg to the faucet (that would create significantly more resistance than most home systems have)? Do you set your CO2 at 5 PSI (that would decrease flow rate but also leave you with pretty flat beer over time as the pressure in the beer and keg headspace repeatedly reach equilibrium)?

#46 8 months ago

I hadn't seen this one before, very nice. I had a spreadsheet I got somewhere that was way too optimistic, this one looks closer to my real world experience

#47 8 months ago

Just go to a restaurant supply company. They will have everything that you need.

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ModFather Pinball Mods
From: $ 99.99
From: $ 99.00
Lighting - Under Cabinet
Rock Custom Pinball
$ 40.00
Lighting - Other
Professor Pinball
From: $ 9.95
Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
ULEKstore
$ 69.99
Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
Lighted Pinball Mods
$ 66.95
Cabinet - Shooter Rods
Super Skill Shot Shop
From: $ 210.00
$ 30.00
Playfield - Decals
Metal-Mods
From: $ 53.00
$ 18.99
Eproms
Matt's Basement Arcade
£ 60.00
Cabinet - Decals
Sillyoldelf Mods
$ 19.99
Playfield - Decals
Arcade Moi Ca
$ 69.99
Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
Lighted Pinball Mods
From: $ 12.99
Eproms
Matt's Basement Arcade
From: $ 217.00
$ 26.99
Lighting - Interactive
Lee's Parts
$ 295.00
Lighting - Interactive
...redshiftLED
$ 25.00
Apparel - Unisex
Project Pinball Charity

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