Pressurized Co2 Problem? Solenoid?
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:52 PM   #1
ProndFarms
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Pressurized Co2 Problem? Solenoid?


I have had my Co2 system up and running for a few days (sort of), and I am experiencing a problem which I can only believe is the solenoid malfunctioning. Details are:

Regulator: Matheson 8-320
Solenoid: Clippard Mouse 0.67w ET-2M-24V DC
Power Adapter: DC 24v 500mA
Metering Valve: Parker H3L
Bubble Counter: Plastic Water Bottle (for now)
Fluval Ceramic Disc Diffuser

Regulator reads 800pi at first gauge, second gauge I am running about 32psi.
Solenoid is on a timer. At timer on, solenoid opens, Co2 runs and within a few seconds small bubbles are coming out of the diffuser.
After I would say 4-5 hours (I am at work during the day so difficult to get an accurate reading, but usually still on when i stop home for lunch after it is on for 1-2 hours), pressure gauges are still reading 32psi and 800psi, yet there are ZERO bubbles coming out of the counter. I can adjust the pressure up, remove the tubing from the needle valve and zero Co2 is being expelled, which leads me backwards to the solenoid.

My first thought was perhaps a small piece of teflon tape got stuck somewhere, so I took the whole unit apart, resealed it, leak tested, and reconnected. Co2 starts bubbling again.

Proceed to next day. Co2 turns on just fine bubbling away. Come home from work for lunch, still on. Come home for the evening, no Co2. Unscrew the solenoid from the manifold, hold the solenoid up to my ear and plug it in (usually you can hear the faint click of the spring) - nothing. After a few hours, it seems to work fine again.

Am I right in assuming that something is wrong with my solenoid, or am I missing something here?
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:58 PM   #2
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I suspect a leak/s. What diffuser are you using?
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:37 PM   #3
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A ceramic disc diffuser made by Fluval. I can pretty certainly rule out a leak. Soap-tested all of the connections, not to mention that it wouldn't start bubbling again at a normal rate after a period of resting unplugged. A leak would be consistent, especially before the solenoid where there is always pressure.
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Old 11-28-2012, 01:45 AM   #4
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Well, it would be pretty easy to take apart the solenoid and see if something is indeed causing a blockage. The coil basically just unscrews off of a base. There's only 2 pcs. inside. Take note of the order they go in so that you put it back together again.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:36 AM   #5
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Yeah, did that. I am pretty sure that I actually had the solenoid screwed down too tight against the manifold. For some reason, if I ease the manifold back a bit, the flow returns.

*UPDATE* - That wasn't it. Worked for about 30 minutes then flow came to a complete halt again. I am now considering that it is my diffuser - it is brand new (well used for a few days), but just wondering if it could be causing enough back pressure to warrant what looks like a stop in flow.
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProndFarms View Post
*UPDATE* - That wasn't it. Worked for about 30 minutes then flow came to a complete halt again. I am now considering that it is my diffuser - it is brand new (well used for a few days), but just wondering if it could be causing enough back pressure to warrant what looks like a stop in flow.
If you remove your diffuser and just have the airline tubing in your aquarium, do you see the same phenomenon occurring?
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A Primer to Pressurized CO2 and A Primer to Planted Tanks
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:44 PM   #7
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This might be a good time to step back and look at a few simple things as well. Not knowing how you have checked but I might look at the power to the solenoid also. Some timers can be funky and not work as they should. When the bubbles stop, have you tried plugging the solenoid in directly so that power to it is certain?
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
This might be a good time to step back and look at a few simple things as well. Not knowing how you have checked but I might look at the power to the solenoid also. Some timers can be funky and not work as they should. When the bubbles stop, have you tried plugging the solenoid in directly so that power to it is certain?
Yep. Unscrewed the solenoid body and adapter and plugged it into a standard outlet to see if I could hear the faint "click" of the spring...nothing.

I sheepishly admit that I think I know what the problem is/was. Somehow I forgot to put a check valve in between the bubble counter and the needle valve. I have one in between the diffuser and the bubble counter and must have somehow overlooked this huge error. I can only assume that a small amount of water seeped back into the solenoid...though I have not seen any physical evidence of this. This would explain why the solenoid was "faltering"...what a dumb mistake. Off to order another solenoid...though on a brighter note I found them for $10 bucks!
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProndFarms View Post
Somehow I forgot to put a check valve in between the bubble counter and the needle valve. I have one in between the diffuser and the bubble counter and must have somehow overlooked this huge error. I can only assume that a small amount of water seeped back into the solenoid...though I have not seen any physical evidence of this. This would explain why the solenoid was "faltering"...what a dumb mistake.
Yes, that could have been the problem.

Or, the solenoid just failed. It happens.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:40 AM   #10
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Before giving up on the solenoid, I might go one more round. Is it obvious how it can be taken apart? Mine have screws and are easy to tear down. If yours is the same, I would go that route. Not much inside them to fly out or anything like that. Since it is broken now, there would seem to be little to lose by looking inside. You may find that some simple lube will make it work again. A bit of Vaseline worked for me.
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich
Before giving up on the solenoid, I might go one more round. Is it obvious how it can be taken apart? Mine have screws and are easy to tear down. If yours is the same, I would go that route. Not much inside them to fly out or anything like that. Since it is broken now, there would seem to be little to lose by looking inside. You may find that some simple lube will make it work again. A bit of Vaseline worked for me.
Yeah, I took it apart, but I dont see anything unusual. Then again, I dont have enough experience with them to probably know better anyways. I can try adding some Vaseline, not a bad idea, but it does seem like the solenoid itself is just "dead".


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Old 11-29-2012, 01:56 PM   #12
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The reason I suggest trying to fix it is because they are really so simple. It is a basic coil of wire with a metal plunger that makes an electro-magnet. If the power cord is good, the coil is sealed in epoxy, etc. and is really hard to break. So that leaves things like dirt on the plunger to stop it moving and the really hard to fix one of the return spring not strong enough. When you have it apart, try sticking some metal down in the hole while turning the power on/off. No danger of shock, here. You should see or feel the metal jump as the magnet starts/stops. This will prove that part good. Then I like WD-40 for cleaning up any little film from old lube that may have hardened. Look at the little spring for breaks or obvious wear. If it has been setting compressed for a long time, it may have lost it's "bounce". This is the tough one for finding a replacement of the right size and strength. When mine was too weak, I filed down a bit of nail and added to make it stronger.

Best of luck. If it's broken,. you can't hurt it!
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