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Kegerator Pressure Problems

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by bradcochran1234, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. bradcochran1234

    bradcochran1234 Member

    Location:
    Georgia
    My wife just bought me a Nostalgia Electrics Kegerator for my birthday. I hooked everything up and found out that I had a bad regulator that was not holding the pressure due to a leak. Called the company and they sent me a brand new one that works like a champ.
    Now everything is hooked up and running. The beer is pouring out at 40F. The downside is that when I set the pressure to 12(recommended by Nostalgia Electrics) it pours way to much head. Like 4 fingers on a simple IPA. When I drop it to 8psi it pours the same. Then once it hits 4-6 it pours a good pour but just very slow.
    Does anyone else have the Nostalgia Electrics Kegerator? Do you have similar problems? If you don't have a Nostalgia Electrics do you have any advice? Should I just suck it up and go with the slow pour?

    Keep in mind, I have checked all my lines and temps and everything is running top notch except for not being able to set to factory standards.
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    A couple possibilities...

    - Your beverage line is not long enough to balance (provide resistance) against the higher pressures, thus the beer is moving too fast.

    or, perhaps more likely, given your description...

    - does this kegerator have a tower? If so, the line and the faucet are starting out warm for the first couple pours, then cooling during subsequent pours. If this is the case, the solution is to insulate the tower and add a fan to circulate the cold air through it. This 'warm tower pour' is the reason I built my keezer without towers.
    bradcochran1234 likes this.
  3. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    You need to learn how to balance a draft system. Nostalgia has no idea what beer you are serving. In fact neither do we. Is it homebrew? A commercial keg? If commercial, you need to apply the proper PSI based on the volumes of carbonation in the keg, temperature of the beer (not air temperature of the keg), and possibly your altitude above sea level. 12 psi is probably fairly close... 8 is likely too low. Eventually you'll be serving under carbonated beer.

    Do a search on kegerator tower cooler. You will need to buy or build one. I built mine for $20 and an hour of my time. Cool air in your kegerator does not rise into the tower all by itself. You need to force the cold air into the tower with a fan and hose run to the top of the tower. IMO you don't need to add insulation to your tower, as you will constantly be supplying cold air to it, and the insulation restricts air flow. But you NEED to force cold air into it with a blower.
    bradcochran1234 and IceAce like this.
  4. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    Presumably, your glasses are impeccably clean. Rinsing the glasses immediately before pouring can make a huge difference. You could also try chilling the glasses. Also, be sure to open the faucet fully when pouring. Opening it part way is a common technique used to increase the foam - to put a head on the beer.

    Another possibility is that, when you were having issues with the old regulator, you may have inadvertently over carbed the beer. In that case, it's not unusual to be pouring foam, even at a lower pressure, since the beer has too much CO2 in it, regardless of the serving pressure (evidently, lowering it to 4 psi pushed it just gently enough that it remained tame). After you've eliminated the temperature and balancing issues, I'd suggest lowering the pressure for a few days, while continuing to serve beer - it'll take a few days for the carbonation level to drop. Once it settles down, put the pressure back up to 12-ish and you should be good.

    Another thought - lowering the temp by a few degrees may also help. I don't know what kind of beer you're serving, but if it's a macro lager, then 35-37 degrees would not be entirely inappropriate, and it will help with the foaming issue. You would also need to reduce the pressure a bit at the lower temperature.
    Scrapss, bradcochran1234 and IceAce like this.
  5. bradcochran1234

    bradcochran1234 Member

    Location:
    Georgia
    Thanks guys. I'm going to try the tower cooling situation. That really makes sense. I'm running Sweetwater IPA on it right now and it taste fine but it's just coming out super slow or too fast with too much head. I will try the fan situation mentoined in cubbyswans post and get back to you.
    Once again, thanks for the feedback.
    Slainte!
  6. brownswisscow

    brownswisscow Member

    Location:
    Vermont
    how long is your line?
    if it is the standard 4-5' that come with the pre-built kegerators, that is certainly contributing to the problem in addition to the tower issue.
  7. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    Disagree. The standard 5 feet is adequate for most beers presuming the system is balanced properly unless someone lives at a high altitude. I have used the 5 feet that came with my kegerator for years. You only need a longer length if you are serving beers at warmer temps or higher volumes of co2 that require a higher pressure to balance properly or you live at a high altitude. Many people advise, incorrectly, to lengthen the beer line to resolve 'foaming'. The correct advice is to supply the correct pressure to the beer based on volumes of co2, temperature of the beer, and altitude.
  8. brownswisscow

    brownswisscow Member

    Location:
    Vermont
    Can you push beer at 10-12psi @ 39deg &sea level with 5 feet of line?
    I sure cannot without filling the glass with foam..
  9. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    If you've addressed the problems noted above, then it's likely over carbed. Lower the pressure and burp the keg every now and then. Be patient -- this may take a few days.
    Scrapss likes this.
  10. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    Absolutely I can. I am at 800 feet above sea level, have exactly 5 feet of beer line that came with my unit, most beers I serve use 12psi, and I serve my beer right at 38F. With a tower cooler installed, I do not pour glasses of foam at all.

    I don't push beers at '10-12psi'. I find out from the brewery what volumes of co2 they carb their beer at and use the exact correct pressure based on my other variables.
  11. VikeMan

    VikeMan Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    For what carbonation levels, temps, and faucet height? My keezer averages 39.4F, and I carbonate my beers to style. So to balance properly, I have beer lines ranging from 4 feet to 18 feet. The beer line length is part of the balance equation itself, not something where a standard length works presuming everything else is balanced (against what?).
  12. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    While i keep longer lines on hand for the exceptionally high carbed beverages - soda, for example - I find that 6' is close enough to a 'one size fits all' solution that I tend to use that most of the time. I may need to finesse a 14psi wheat to avoid excess foaming, but it's not as big a PITA as you might think.
  13. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    that
    You'll note that I said "presuming the system is balanced properly".


    I realize the line length may need to change based on the other variables. If you need to lengthen the line, great, do it. 2.6 volumes of co2 seems to be norm for most commercial brews. If it's 2.5 or 2.7 I don't think it's enough to warrant changing out the line. 5ft at 38-40f for these carbonation levels is quite fine in a standard short draw kegerator. My statement was in response to someone claiming that 5' of line was 'certainly contributing to the problem'. The reality is that he does not know that with any certainty whatsoever without knowing the remaining balancing variables.
  14. VikeMan

    VikeMan Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I'll take your word for that. Originally, I didn't know that you were referring to (only) commercial beers. I serve beers ranging from 1.5 to 4 volumes.
  15. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    My 'one size fits all' comment probably doesn't apply to 4 volumes of CO2. 1.5 wouldn't be a problem, though. It would just require a bit more patience and, perhaps, a spritz or three from the faucet for a decent head (this is where a creamer faucet can earn its keep).
  16. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    Well the OP is talking about a 'simple IPA' to begin with, and then someone tells him that 5' of line is certainly contributing to the problem. I would say that response is incorrect, and that is what I was pointing out. The 5' of line MAY be contributing to the problem, but in this circumstance I'd say not likely. I've never served an IPA where 5' of line was a problem. I only have one tap on my kegerator, so I reserve it for the day to day drinking beers. I have an IPA on tap almost all the time, be it homebrew or commercial. In 5 years I have never encountered an IPA that I couldn't apply a correct pressure to for volumes of co2 and keep my 5 foot line. Homebrew you can do whatever the hell you want for carbing, and I've had a wide variety of commercial IPA's as well. They have all been in the 2.4 - 2.7 volumes of co2 range. At 38-40F in a standard short draw kegerator system, 5' of beer line works quite fine. And it's not just IPA's.... that's just my own personal experience with beer. There is an entire thread on micromatic.com where people are reporting volumes of co2 of commercial brews and the are not usually outside of the 2.4-2.7 range.
  17. DMW

    DMW Member

    I just bought a Nostalgia kegerator and had the same regulator issue. Before even finishing describing the issue, the rep wanted to send a new one, and did so. The pressure adjustment on the new one is so stiff it requires pliers. After turning to the minimal psi setting, I charged it and it will not go below38 psi. Will this self correct after beer is poured or do I have another bad regulator???? I'm addition, the tap column wobbles and does not lock into place. Anyone have either of these issues?
  18. fineout

    fineout Member

    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Everyone always talks about volumes of co2, can someone explain it to me in laymans terms how to find it out and how to do the math to figure out how many vols im putting in? Thanks!
  19. VikeMan

    VikeMan Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    'Volumes of CO2' tells you how much CO2 is dissolved in something. The math is in many many charts on the interwebs. Here's one...

    http://www.draft-beer-made-easy.com/carbonationchart.html
  20. DougC123

    DougC123 Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Good reference
  21. KWRSV

    KWRSV Member

    Mine finally locked into place, but was still loose. I finally snapped off the plastic insert and used screws to affix it to the kegerator.
  22. DavethebeerguyNJ

    DavethebeerguyNJ Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    14psig of 100% CO2 on anything that isn't a stout is what the Brewers Association recommends. If its pouring too fast at 5' of line get 6' of the 3/16 ID poly line from micromatic and that should slow it down a little. Beer physics is a very complicated blend of pressure, temperature, and resistance. I also agree with getting the blower fan for the tower. This is a huge problem with the non-commercial units (cheap units), because it means your first glass is always foamy. It also means that the yeast in the lines and in the faucet grow faster. Eww!
  23. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Member

    Location:
    Missouri
    If it's very complicated, then I don't think one universal pressure is the answer(it's not). Otherwise it would extremely simple.

    It's not really a huge problem. I built one for $20 and an hour of my time. Been running fine for 6 years now.
    DougC123 likes this.
  24. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    Depends on the temperature ...and the beer ...and a host of other factors.
    While I can't say it didn't happen, I have a hard time believing the BA would publish such a generic recommendation. At a few degrees below 40F, most American-style beers and virtually all English-style beers would badly overcarbed at 14psi (the English styles would be over-chilled, too, but that's another topic). A more suitable, middle of the road compromise, IMO, would be closer to 11psi at 40F (actually, pretty close to what Nostalgia Electrics recommends). But even that's overly broad, since some styles scream for lower temps and higher fizz and vice-versa. But it's probably a good starting point until you get more comfortable with the nuances of the system and learn how to tweak it to your preference.
  25. billandsuz

    billandsuz Member

    Location:
    New York

    for some people it is.
    lucky we have one size fits all solutions!
  26. BrewsWillis

    BrewsWillis Member

    Location:
    Indiana
    Dude, my tap tower wobbles like crazy. I was given a KRS 2000 as a gift form my cousin . I've been able to rig it but I'm having leakage problems from the coupler up. Hoping someone can advise if I need a new tower assembly and/or coupler just to make sure I have the right washers and seals. As far as the pressure adjustment being stiff (and forgive me if this is obvious and you've done it) there is a set screw that you need to turn with an Allen wrench just above the dial that adjusts the pressure. Also when you go to tighten the screw back, it will add a few psi. You can bleed it and adjust it by pulling the pin on the side of the regulator. Cheers!
  27. DougC123

    DougC123 Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    A wobbly tower and leakage are two different issues. When you say you are having leakage from the coupler up, what does that mean? Beer? CO2? The coupler has four gaskets - one on top where the beer lines goes which is a traditional washer, a clear duckbill seal where the CO2 goes in the side, and attached to the underside a keg washer and a probe washer which is on the part that moves in and out when you couple/uncouple. Can't help with the tower, although I have read of people having trouble with that insert and twist tower.
  28. Scrapss

    Scrapss Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hi, sorry I didn't chime in earlier. I have a 2007 Nostalgia and the regulator that came with mine was shite breathing therapy style regulator that was volumetric rather than pressure. I had to constantly bleed down to get a good pour and it would over charge and ruin kegs. Do yourself a favor and go spend the duckets on a real low pressure regulator. I got one at the local welding shop for under 100 and it saved me so much trouble! Tower fans will help with small/short drafts welling up with foam too.
  29. Scrapss

    Scrapss Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    also...the wobble can be reduced by adding bicycle tire tubes cut up in half annular shapes butted up and rubber cemeted on as spacers on the mating surfaces of the twist in tower. Tighted my tower right up.

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