Urgent question - help with CO2 valve?!?

suep

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Jul 10, 2007
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I have a 46 gallon bowfront, planted, with very fancy guppies, cardinals and some misc fish. The pressurized CO2 started getting really flaky last week, and I replaced the tank. (It's a 5 lb tank that had been running since last December, it was due.) My aquarium maintenance guy set up the new tank for me and adjusted the solenoid valve. And warned me that I might have to fiddle with it for a day or two.

As far as I remember noticing, it worked fine last night. I walked in the room a few minutes ago and the CO2 was still going, even though the timer shut off at 9PM. Thinking my timer was flaky, I unplugged the solenoid totally, and it's still producing gas at the same rate. It's a Milwaukee valve, new last December, and has always been reliable.

I am assuming that the new tank just has a lot of pressure and needs to bleed down some before the valve can close. But that's a total guess and I do NOT want to kill any fish. (One of my hatchet fish disappeared yesterday, although I guess he could have jumped without us noticing...)

What should I do right now, tonite? The fish are acting normally, the drop checker (with 4dKH water) is a solid green, not yellow. The CO2 diffuser is bubbling away merrily. I do have a Koralia #1 powerhead in the tank and an airstone. The lights just shut off for the night. Should I panic? :confused:
 

Gerryd

Plant Guru Team
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Sep 23, 2007
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Hi suep,

Please describe what you mean by 'flaky'?

In any event, if you are concerned overnight, there is a large valve on the top of the c02 tank. Turn this valve so it closes tight will prevent any c02 from entering your system. You can do this until you see what the problem is in the light of day. It should be clockwise to shut it off.............You should see your diffuser stop bubbling.

That being said, is your c02 solenoid on the timer? Is the timer shutting on/off properly, do you know?

A newly filled tank should not need to bleed down any.

The solenoid should shut the valve unless it is fault, which does happen.

Are you using a reactor? How can you tell the c02 is still 'on'?

If you leave the c02 on, you can point the koralia at the surface to get more agitation and gas exchange.

AS long as the fish are okay, it won't harm the plants to have c02 at night, it is just unnecessary.

As stated, you can always shut off the main tank valve and that should bypass whether the solenoid or anything else is out of whack.

No need to panic.

Hope this helps.
 

suep

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Jul 10, 2007
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>>flaky

I bought some 4dKH water last week and started using my drop checker again, after a few months of just watching the bubble count and the fish. I wanted to get a bit more CO2 in the water, so I turned the needle valve up on the CO2 valve. I got a burst of bubbles and then the pressure dropped almost immediately to almost nothing. Messed with it a couple days and decided the CO2 was probably almost out (after 10 months). So I replaced the bottle and had Jay hook up the new one for me on Friday. After some fiddling, he got it to about 1 1/2 - 2 bubbles a second, which is where I wanted it. And I've been watching the tank since.

Tonite, the bubbles didn't turn off when the timer clicked, so I pulled the plug entirely, it's not plugged into the wall. I'm still getting 1-2 bubbles a second, after 90 minutes. I wonder if the solenoid valve is stuck open? :( I hope not, the valve was expensive! :(

Ack!!!!
 

suep

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Jul 10, 2007
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I just played with it some more. The tank valve (on the top) doesn't seem to make a difference, at least not with my hands. Turning the solenoid valve clockwise several turns produces a burst of bubbles that almost immediately slows down to 1 or 2 a second. I played with a while, then used the needle valve to turn the bubbles off totally, at lest for the night. The valve is unplugged totally, that doesn't seem to make a difference. (Very odd, what does electricity do, then?)

It's a Milwaukee MA957.



The large valve on the top, the tank valve, appeared to be only cracked open, the Milwaukee instructions appear to want it open as far as it goes. I turned it to the left quite a bit (may not be totally open yet) and played with the Milwaukee valves more. The solenoid is now responding to electricity and the timer's instructions.

I wonder if it wasn't getting enough pressure from the tank to trip the On/Off control?

Well, I guess I'll keep an eye on it tomorrow. I hate it when I don't understand technology... :confused:
 

VaughnH

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Jan 24, 2005
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My Milwaukee regulator solenoid also failed as yours has. The Milwaukee unit is cheap, so the components are also cheap. I ended up replacing the solenoid with one from Rex Grigg, and it has worked perfectly ever since - about 2 years. Two other cautions:
It is a bad idea to shut off the CO2 using the needle valve. That valve is not designed to be used as a shutoff valve, and it can be damaged by doing so.
It is a bad idea to shut off and open the valve on the CO2 tank, unless you follow the Milwaukee instructions for doing so. You need to back off the regulator pressure adjusting knob until it is loose, then shut off the tank valve. When opening the tank valve, the regulator pressure adjusting knob should first be backed off until it is loose. After opening the tank valve you can readjust the regulator output pressure to where you want it to be.

What you should have done is use the needle valve to reduce the bubble rate down below one bubble per second, and leave it that way overnight. That would reduce the CO2 in the water down to where it wouldn't be a problem.

Right now, I suggest you look for a new solenoid valve, for example: CO2 Regulator Solenoids | Clippard - Burkert - SMS
 

suep

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Jul 10, 2007
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At the moment, it appears to be working correctly, but it certainly doesn't give me much faith in the future. :(

From looking at your link, it appears I can just replace the little electronic thingie? Interesting! I'm also going to go look at what Rex Grigg has available. Thanks!

Argh. Computers I understand, hardware is my husband's job! :p
 

VaughnH

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The "solenoid", as it is usually referred to, on a regulator is a mechanical valve, with an electric coil mounted on it to make it open or close. It isn't electronic at all, just a simple mechanical gadget. You can replace just the electric coil, but it is much more likely that the valve itself is what is faulty. Rex sells the Clippard solenoid, The Best Aquarium Regulator & CO2 Parts, and I think that's the one I bought from him. I understand Rex is having some health problems right now, so he isn't currently shipping out anything, or at least that was true a week ago. If you are in a hurry, another vendor is probably a better idea.
 

suep

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Jul 10, 2007
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I talked to Rex this afternoon and he's shipping me a valve, solenoid, needle valve, etc this week. We decided that the Milwaukee probably bit the dust, either naturally or from my messing around with it. Hopefully, the algae will hold off for a few days, he didn't think it would be a huge problem.