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How to Troubleshoot Your Beverage Carbonation System

Serving carbonated beverages is a significant service in breweries and restaurants. Maintaining an efficient beverage system is vital for keeping this service running, as is understanding beverage dispenser troubleshooting.

Though beverage systems may seem simple, they have many components that work together to carbonate beverages, and if one of those components isn’t performing optimally, you can run into various issues, such as flat drinks or even potential hazards associated with working with compressed gas. This guide to troubleshooting your beverage system will explore common issues in beverage systems and what you can do to keep drinks flowing.

Common Issues in Industrial Beverage Systems

Industrial carbonated beverage systems work to trap carbon dioxide (CO2) in water ‚ÄĒ or a similar liquid ‚ÄĒ using pressure. The systems generally feature syrup pumps, carbonators, a water supply, a cylinder of CO2 and taps. 

When an operator pushes the tap, the pump sends water to the carbonator, and the carbonator uses pressure to trap CO2 in the water. Once the water is carbonated, it’s pushed to the tap, as is the syrup with the desired flavoring. Before the drink is released from the tap, the water and syrup are mixed. Usually, all parts work together seamlessly, but at times, you may run into minor issues that lead to needing to troubleshoot your beverage system.

Common issues with beverage systems include pouring issues, problems with the bulk tank and issues with pressure: 

  • Beverages are coming out flat: Check that the carbonator is plugged in and running and there is CO2 in your cylinders or bulk tank. If your bulk tank is empty, contact a gas partner to fill your tank. Ensuring you have the right blend of CO2 also makes a difference.
  • You are experiencing hardware issues: If the fountain machine is not dispensing or liquid is leaking from the system, call a qualified technician. A service technician will examine your beverage system and do professional repairs. 
  • You are experiencing CO2 pressure issues: Check vessel pressure and supply gauges. From these gauges, you can determine potential issues. If the supply gauge shows less than 90 or the pressure gauge shows less than 100, then there is a lack of sufficient pressure, and your system will not be able to push enough CO2 into your drinks.
  • The system is running out of CO2 too quickly: Your bag-in-a-box fountain syrup may be depleted, but even when empty, it uses CO2. Change the bag, being sure to clean fittings with clean, warm water so that you do not deal with buildup.
  • There is frost on the tank: Frost on the tank is usually nothing to worry about. Frost can form when there is a high amount of CO2 usage during busy times of the day. However, these small pieces of ice should melt. If the frost isn’t melting, this could indicate a leak in your system. Check your pressure regulator, as it could be faulty and cause ice to form.
  • Hissing sounds are coming from the tank: Check the pressure gauge on the tank to ensure the tank is operating at a minimum of 280 psi ‚ÄĒ the gauge measures up to 400 psi. Anything lower is indicative of a problem, and you should have your tank serviced by a professional.
  • The carbonator is giving off too much gas: You may need to reset your carbonator. Open the water supply, close off the CO2 gas and unplug the carbonator. Turn off the syrup valve or stop the flow by lowering the CO2 pressure at your syrup pump regulator to 0 psi. Let the tank fill with water by relieving the gas pressure. Once filled with water, turn the carbonator back on, open the CO2 gas and dispense. At first, only still water will run. Give it a few seconds, and it should carbonate.
  • The machine is not pulling syrup: Check that your syrup tank or bag-in-box (BIB) units are not empty and that the BIB connectors are secured.

Safety First: Ventilate Before You Investigate

Understanding your beverage system and knowing how to troubleshoot is important, but you should be particularly careful when you need to regas your carbonated beverage system or do any kind of troubleshooting that may cause CO2 to leak from the system. While carbonated beverage systems are usually safe to work with if you are skilled, any chance of carbon dioxide leaks is a serious hazard.

CO2 is an odorless, colorless and non-flammable gas. CO2 is heavier than air, and large concentrations of CO2 can reduce or displace normal oxygen levels so drastically that it can cause asphyxiation. Other side effects of high levels of CO2 include dizziness, headaches, confusion, drowsiness and loss of consciousness.

Having a properly ventilated area is crucial to the well-being of all staff and patrons.

  • Install monitors to measure CO2 and nitrogen levels. 
  • Train staff to know the warning signs of a carbon dioxide leak and provide training on navigating potentially hazardous situations.
  • Maintain a well-ventilated area at all times when troubleshooting beverage systems.
  • Always take care to prevent contamination and only use beverage-grade CO2 with your commercial beverage system.

If you are at any time unsure of what the issue is or how to troubleshoot, remember that your safety comes first. Hire a professional beverage equipment service to handle the job safely.

Proactive Maintenance and Sanitation Strategies for Commercial Beverage Systems

Maintaining your beverage systems is important to keep them operating smoothly and avoid repeated troubleshooting. You should implement effective maintenance schedules and keep a comprehensive maintenance log that includes any cleaning, part replacements, servicing, refilling cylinders, and other crucial details.

A proper cleaning method can involve:

  1. Washing hands before and after all cleaning tasks.
  2. Removing nozzles from valves and cleaning them with a nozzle brush and appropriate chlorine-based sanitizer solution.
  3. Cleaning around nozzles with a brush and towel.  
  4. Washing drip pans. 
  5. Emptying and cleaning ice chutes. 
  6. Cleaning syrup lines and BIB units and connectors.
  7. Washing condensor fans.
  8. Replacing water filters.

Cost-Saving Measures

Finances are always a priority. To ensure your industrial beverage system and operations are cost-effective and optimized, you can:

  • Maintain your systems with regular checks, services and routine cleanings so that components last as long as possible. 
  • Manage your inventory so you understand which components you need to replace or repair more often. This can also help you build a more effective maintenance program.
  • Opt for affordable supplies without sacrificing quality.
  • Work with certified partners to ensure you are using quality gas. Neglecting to do this can lead to extra costs down the line if the quality of your cylinders is poor.

Contact Meritus Gas Partners for Expert Service and Support 

Knowing the common issues you may face with your commercial beverage system and easy troubleshooting solutions make a noticeable difference to your daily operations. It is also essential to have trusted suppliers you can rely on for quality gas supplies for your beverage dispensers.

At Meritus Gas Partners, our partners are reputable distributors in the industry that provide premium gas solutions for your commercial beverage dispensers. You can count on our partners for professional and helpful services when it comes to refilling your beverage system’s gas supply.

Feel free to visit any of our affiliated branches or contact us today to discuss products, solutions and services that suit your needs.

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