Help atomizer leaking co2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 78
Help atomizer leaking co2

Hello, I have had my co2 system up for a month now. It is a GLA with an atomic diffuser. I had not had any real issues until today I noticed the fizz wasn't coming out of the outflow, did a leak test and it is the seal around the atomic diffuser itself (not tubing or valve)... Is there anything I can do or am I just out of luck? I have only had this running for a month and have had no issues until now. I am worried I am going to get nailed with algae. I am not sure what to do in the interim if this cannot be fixed. Is this a common atomizer thing? Obviously they should last more than a month. Any advice would be great
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 10:40 PM
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What's your regulator working pressure set at?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 11:23 PM
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You know, I feel like - especially over the past year - I'm seeing more and more posts about issues with Atomizer-type diffusers, both inline and in-tank. From cracking compression nuts to a necessity of more-and-more frequent cleanings (each time requiring a new dialing-in of the needle valve), to clogs from bubble counter fluid (do yourself a favor and just use water!) to complete breaks, to your basic leaks. When they work, they work great! I just don't have much faith in their durability over time.

I've used several (all in-tank), and haven't had any malfunctions, though I've experienced the need for regular cleaning ...which I found obnoxious. My guess is that the issues are a combination of the materials involved (plastic and ceramic, attached with glue), and the relatively high pressure required to use them. It's also possible that the quality of manufacture from factory to factory is an issue, but I've never read anything definitive about this, regardless of the number of people who come to the defense of the Atomizers.

One other issue is that splitting CO2 between 2 or more tanks, all using Atomics, can be difficult or even impossible, depending on the cracking pressure of the individual ceramic pieces. In this case I would definitely recommend using reactors.

However, I didn't answer your question (sorry!). I would suggest you take a pic and point out exactly where it's leaking, ideally during a leak test with soapy water. It's possible it's an easy fix, but my gut reaction is to suggest you get rid of it and build yourself a simple reactor. It'll cost you maybe $30. $40 if you stumble a bit before you figure out exactly how you want to build it. My feeling is it's unlikely you'd ever try an Atomizer again.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 12:10 AM
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Location: Monterey, CA
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Agreed with kevmo... I had one of them split too, and it is scary as hell if you have a couple of hundred gallons go through that point every hour.

If your filter doesn't complain, just running the bubbles into the inlet is a great solution. Perfect dissolving rate, and great distribution. My Filstars never liked the bubbles, but other canisters work fine with it. Try and listen to any noises, if gas builds up in the filter housing then it won't work.

Other than that, an external inline reactor works reliably. Or you could use a small pump to suck the bubbles into the impeller and smash them into mist. If you don't mind the mist...
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 01:41 AM
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Location: Midland, MI
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I made the switch to the inline reactor a week or so ago. It's simple to put together, and cheap as well (if it wasn't for the 5/8" barbs I needed for the Fluval line, I could have gotten it made for 10 bucks. Even with the barbs, it was only 20 bucks). After multiple glass atomizers split, and ceramic discs flying out of the plastic holders, this is so much better.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 78
Thanks for the replies.

I was running at 35 psi standing pressure ~ 2+ bps. After reading the replies, I think I did this to myself as I had recently switched to mineral oil for my bubble counter solution b/c the water kept evaporating quickly... I never saw any oil in the co2 tube or anywhere else but this was the only thing I had done to the system recently. What is it they say about if it ain't broke...
I tried a quick fix with teflon tape but it still was leaky. The leak appears to be somewhere around where the black plastic piece of the atomizer overlaps the grey clear tube that the screen and water flow through. GLA was helpful and said they would take it back but I am going to switch to an in-line reactor and see how that goes. In the mean time I am going to try Wasserpest's suggestion of running through either my power head or canister.
I do have a question about the mineral oil, will this stuff start to leach into my tank with a reator in line reator?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 05:30 PM
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you should for sure contact GLA about this... This is the kind of stuff they need to know

-Just another day in paradise-
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 11:55 PM
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I tried an atomic diffuser and really liked the fine mist they produce, but after about a month the plastic nut cracked as I was reattaching the tubing after cleaning. Then a few weeks later as I was removing the tubing for another cleaning, the nipple broke off. I got a free replacement and bought another. One of those leaked large bubbles around the area where the ceramic and plastic are joined. They're a good idea but the quality just isn't there. So I went back to my ADA diffusers which I've had for a few years now. They're well made, produce consistent results and are sturdier than the atomic diffusers. They may seem expensive to start but after 3 atomic diffusers the price is about the same.
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