Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Kegerator won't stop pouring huge head

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by beerassociate, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. My kegerator won't stop pouring enormous head into my glasses, it spurts out and then pours. And I just tasted it, it tasted way over carbonated but my CO2 isn't up wicked high. And the chances of both kegs being bad are astronomical. I'm in desperate need of help, I want to drink my draft beer! Please help, thank you.

  2. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    How long have you had the kegerator? What temperature is the beer? What beers? You are describing un unbalanced system or frozen lines, or both.
  3. I'm pretty sure my lines aren't frozen, what would be indicitave of an unbalanced system? It's Thomas Hooker Irish Red and Uinta Yard Sale. Kegerator couldn't be more than 2 years old
  4. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Champion (805) California Sep 4, 2010 Verified

    But you've had the kegerator and used it for other beers before?
  5. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    could be your regulator went screwy.
    this appliance previously worked fine and now it doesn't?

    we'll need some info about your setup.
  6. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Michigan Jan 8, 2011

    The "spurt" could possibly be an air leak somewhere, hence the "burping" action. You can take some soapy water and spray down your connections/hose and look for bubbles.
  7. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    If you aren't using your temperature and the volumes of CO2 to balance the system you can get foam. If your temperature dropped (which is why I asked about beer temp) at the same pressure you had been running you are over carbed. Gaps in the beer line are indicative of the pressure being too low. I know you have trouble on both lines, but do you have a dual regulator? Have you run these beers before?
  8. It should be noted that any attempt at tweaking the temperature and/or pressure will require a few days for things to balance out before you see results.

    Here's one of thousands of articles describing how to balance your system:

    Read and understand what's being discussed. Apply it and be patient. All the factors are interrelated. Beer style tends to dictate volumes of CO2 and serving temperature, which determine serving pressure, which, along with hardware configuration, determines line dimensions (typically line length). It can seem overly complicated, but once you understand how it works, it's a piece of cake.

    FWIW, I'm assuming you're relatively new to these things. If that's not the case, then ignore everything I said above and go with your instincts. ;)
    corbmoster, DarrenStory and RockAZ like this.
  9. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    I was taught to balance using the v/v and temperature to get my pressure for balance - i.e. the proper pressure to keep the CO2 in solution but not over carb. All line length does for me is adjust the flow rate to prevent foaming; faster or slower flowing balanced beer moving through the line. I have 10' lines and I've never calculated the resistance factor, I add a half psi or so for push to whatever the zahm nagle chart tells me.
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    you are assuming that all beer is dispensed from a direct draw system. one where the keg and refigerator is located within a few feet of the faucet. the line in this system is basically a choker, and will introduce enough resistance to get the applied psi to the guage psi (PSIG). the pressure applied to the surface of the beer in keg should cause an equilibrium. ie Henrys Law. additonal pressure is needed to overcome the resistance in the system to get the stuff into the glass. when psi=psig the system is balanced.

    line length, line diameter and the resistance of the material (ie friction) will change a systems parameters, sometimes dramatically. we should always try to sort out the systems resistance from coupler to faucet if we want to accurately determine the proper setup.

    most everyone with a direct draw system does not realize that they are changing the vols in their commercial beer if they leave everything the same. you will slowly (or wuickly perhaps) begin to under carb or over carb the beer given enough time. you probably wont notice the difference, especially if you kick it quick enough.
    in practice, direct draw systems need very little tweaking once set up properly. most everyone is happy with the set it and forget it method because it works well enough.
  11. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    I'm not assuming all beer is direct draw or long run for that matter, I'm just saying what I do for 10' lines. I'm guessing the OP is short draw which falls into the same boat. I'm not sure I get what you are saying with your last paragraph, but you might be headed down the path I was in asking if he has run these beers before. I balance for every beer I put in, but agree that many do not.
  12. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    if we were to determine we require 10 pounds of line resistance, i can get 10 pounds of restriction with 20 feet of 0.25 vinyl . or 5 feet of 0.25 s.s. or 3.3 feet of 3/16 vinyl. what you use for your system works well enough for you, and you are able to be happy with your setup. but we are not going to be able to balance any system until we know the line length, line diameter and resistance of the material. two are variable one is not.

    when you say "All line length does for me is adjust the flow rate to prevent foaming" you are acknowledging that this is critical to calculating the system balance.

    daysinthewake likes this.
  13. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    I'm adjusting flow of properly balanced beer. Assume a static system, no beer flowing. If you are not properly balanced gaps will develop in the beer line. They can be from CO2 coming out of solution because of too low a pressure, or they could be from CO2 that can't go into solution because of saturation. I have longer lines primarily because of low restriction forward closing faucets. The longer line slows the flow to prevent tumbling and foaming but doesn't play a role in the beer being balanced.
  14. That's kind of the whole point, but it's not really the flow rate you're adjusting, it's the resistance.
    There's no such thing as a 'balanced' beer, in this context. The system has to be balanced. Carbonation level and temperature of the beer are two factors, but they're meaningless without knowing the other parameters. Line length is part of the balance. If you lengthen or shorten a line without adjusting one of the other parameters, the system is no longer balanced.
    billandsuz likes this.
  15. Where did you get the resistance values for your faucets? Mine are forward sealing and I didn't make any changes to the lines when I switched from rear sealing faucets. The line length critical in balancing your system (conveniently, it's the easiest parameter to adjust). And, as I said, the beer is not balanced, the system is.
  16. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    not sure you are following, so lets go back to the beginning. and don't take this as criticism of your smarts or ability. sometimes we have 90% of the solution, but the last 10% is elusive. this forum is unlike other areas of BA where opinion matters. so, balancing a system 101.

    the pressure applied to a keg of beer needs to be the same as the pressure of the gas that is escaping from the beer. the beer has a certain amount of dissolved gas saturated in the liquid. apply a pressure of the same gas (and it must be the same gas btw) and we have reached equilibrium. enough pressure in the headspace to keep the gas dissolved in the liquid, no more no less.

    what about the resistance in the line? there has to be some pressure to get over that. not to mention the gravity- beer has weight and something has to lift it up. yes, the junk after the keg coupler is crucial.

    so we add this to the pressure needed to keep the beer in keg in equlibrium. psi=psig.

    line length, diameter and material absolutely play a role in determining what is needed to balance a system. as Mike said, you don't balance the beer, you balance the system.
    my first response to you noted that you are assuming that everything is a direct draw system. what if the keg is 100' from the faucet? still the same setup as your system? still the same 3/16" vinyl rising 3 feet from keg? is the pressure at the end of your 50' garden hose the same as the flow from the spigot at the hose bib? what if the end of the hose is 30 feet up the hill in your yard? what if the garden hose is made of teflon and has virtually no friction?

    lastly, your forward seal faucet makes zero difference. believe it or not. there is some irony that you ignore the third leg of system balance, but consider the one parameter that has nothing to do with anything, the faucet.
  17. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    Well helping the OP has clearly taken a back seat to bantering about balance. The system needs to be balanced, both statically and dynamically while dispensing. Temperature, v/v and pressure are what balance the beer statically. Pressure bridges the gap between static and dynamic by giving the push to move the beer. The faucets play a role in dispensing, forward closers flow faster and the beer tumbles and foams, hence the line restriction through added length. I never said that line specs didn't play a role,they clearly do. I was relating my experience with 10' lines which I already tried to clarify for you. Maybe not clear enough. Better a second time? Together temp, v/v, pressure and line specs balance the system and dispense.
    I didn't use values for restriction on the faucets, but can tell you that at 5' of 3/16ths I didn't have enough line restriction to change to Perlicks without adding length. Probably could haven gone less than 10', but it lets me pour whatever I want for head from none to a couple of inches by how the beer is presented to glass. Clearly whatever line set up Mike had was restrictive enough for it to handle the change.
    End of the day, you go drink your perfectly balanced draft and I will too.
    Sorry to the OP, this probably didn't help you much.
  18. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    bantering? if we are going to help balance a system we certainly aren't going to ignore the line parameters. do you agree that you can't get a balanced system with just temperature and pressure? "duh"? i didn't know it was obvious to everyone. if it were they wouldn't be here.

    respectfully, you don't fully understand what is involved in balancing a system. and in that regard "you go drink your perfectly balanced draft and I will too" is, respectfully, bullshit. we certainly could have eliminated a half dozen posts if it weren't for the notion that line length, diameter and material were an after thought.
  19. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    Your quote of my post isn't correct, I tried my best to edit so you might understand, but it really doesn't matter one way or the other. Respectfully.
  20. RockAZ

    RockAZ Savant (460) Arizona Jan 6, 2009 Verified

    OP - has any of this helped you out? Assumptions are that it worked well enough before and then suddenly something changed that affected both kegs/taps, is that correct? By now you will have discovered if it was something as simple as both kegs becoming empty at the same time, they tend to spurt at the last two pours.

    You are using 3/16" beer line instead of 1/4"? Is the Beer Coupler Check Valve clean and undamaged? Are you missing the little Beer Coupler Check Ball or the retainer is broken? I would suggest replacing the beer line because it is two years old and then start following the troubleshooting links above in this thread. Clean everything, and use keg lube on the Coupler to the keg.
  21. I honestly have yet to fix it, sorry for the delay guys, I've been off BA for a bit. Does anyone know if there's a service I can call to have someone come out to take a look at it? I'm here in NJ. I can't seem to figure out what's wrong with it.
  22. CellarGimp

    CellarGimp Savant (485) Missouri Sep 14, 2011

    Download Draft beer quality manual and look at the direct draw chapter. Look at trouble shooting sections. Determine what's wrong. Fix. Excessive foaming is usually a beer temperature issue. Too high pressure could be an issue as well. Crimped hoses. Obstructed lines or couplers. Etc.
  23. If you were able to figure out what was wrong, you probably wouldn't have asked the question in the first place. There are some pretty good suggestions above that cover probably 99% of the causes of excess foam. You might want to try some of them before you spend as much money on a service call as you would on a new kegerator (maybe an exaggeration, maybe not). Many of the members here have a pretty good idea how to troubleshoot these problems simply because they either researched it and got it right on the first try, or they went through the process of fixing it when things didn't go so well, frequently by asking for help here.
  24. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    First basic question still to be answered....is this the first time out with this unit or have you used it before? If used before, have you had these beers in it before?
  25. I have yet to have these beers in the kegerator before, however it's almost two years old and has had plenty of beers in it.
  26. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    What are they?
  27. I stated this up top, Thomas Hooker Irish Red and Uinta Brewing Yard Sale
  28. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    I can't find a reference for your v/v target for those. If it were me I'd check with the brewery, but we can still try to get through it. What is the beer temperature? The psi? In your past kegs did you adjust those settings or was it always tap and play?
  29. [​IMG]

    there's no pinched lines or temp issues. I just filled my CO2 keg.....help please...is this how the pressure gauge is supposed to read?
  30. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    A couple of more questions, and I know,you've been running fine for a few years, but I'm just trying to get closer,to understanding what went out on you. I'm not sure what you mean by " how is this thing supposed to read". Do you mean the co2 regulator? Do you routinely clean your lines? When you say no temperature issues, do you have a tower cooler? The fluctuation from the box to the faucet is a very big contributor to foam, and if you get more foam in the first pour than subsequent ones it is playing a role.
    Can you describe your pours - what do they look like if you pour three beers right after one another?
  31. Sludgeman

    Sludgeman Champion (780) District of Columbia Aug 17, 2012 Verified

    I'm surprised it took until message #31 for someone to ask about clean lines.

    Make sure your lines are clean and then worry about Henry's Law, friction coeficients and temperature differentials.
  32. lines are 100% clean I assure you. Should I run them through again just to be sure? I guess it can't hurt to untap the kegs and clean them right?
  33. Did you try changing the lines recently? I hope you have changed them since the kegerator is 2 years old... those will be nasty if you have been using the same lines for 2 years. I changed my beer lines after a year or so and it pours much slower that it was with better head forming. They get gunked up which is a smaller ID since more stuff is in the tube and nucleation points in the hose just creates foamier beer. I should change every 6 months but it's a pain of a process.
  34. Sludgeman

    Sludgeman Champion (780) District of Columbia Aug 17, 2012 Verified

    If the lines were cleaned right before you put these kegs on then there is no need to do it again (assuming you used some standard cleaning solution, etc.) If not, it might be worth it. These beers may be more sensitive to dirty lines. Untapping the kegs will do no harm while you clean the lines.
    beerassociate likes this.
  35. agreed it's a pain. I'll rinse it out again and see where it gets me, it might just be that simple
  36. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    We could have gotten here much sooner if it wasn't for the other members jumping on me for 15 of those posts.

    BTW I agree there is no issue with properly cleaned lines that are two years old.

    I still would like to know if there is a tower cooler and what the first three pours look like.
    Sludgeman likes this.
  37. There is no tower cooler....this is like a standard kegerator guys.....nothing fancy. Two taps. The first 3 pours are irrelevant, the pours have been all the same. Small amount of beer and a lot of head
  38. DougC123

    DougC123 Savant (425) Connecticut Aug 21, 2012 Verified

    That isn't irrelevant, it helps with pointing to the cause of the issue. If all three pours, done one after the other in close succession are the same, it says it isn't temp related. The lines, faucets and regulator are still suspects. Have you been disassembling and cleaning the faucets when you clean the lines? Are your beer lines clear tubing? If so, after it sits overnight open the door and take a look at them. Are they full of a solid line of beer or are there gaps or pockets of CO2? What is your regulator set at?
  39. I know it's not a temp issue, I do appreciate the help but I've tested the temp already. I'm gunna clean the lines tomorrw, I'll let the thread know what happens. Thanks very much for the advice!