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  • Leaking bulkhead fitting

    So one of my return bulkhead fittings is dripping. My first attempt to seal it with silicone worked for a while but it's now dripping again. So I dried it off, globbed more silicone on it. I'm just not sure I'm leaving the tank off long enough for it to cure fully. I'm not sure how long I can leave it off without fish dying. Last night I had it off for a few hours but the silicone was still a little tacky. I really don't want to cut and replace my piping. Any other advice if this last attempt at sealing it doesn't work? I'm thinking I could clean the sealant and loosen the fitting and try cleaning the gasket and re tighten.
    75 Gallon mixed reef tank. 40 gallon sump. 2 Ecotech Radion G4 LED
    30 gallon freshwater community tank

  • #2
    Hi James,

    Using silicone around the bulkhead is really just a temporary fix as i am sure you already know. Also, as you mentioned, if the area you used silicone was not completely dry, the chance are even greater for a leak. To me, it sounds like you should replace the bulkhead to make the fix before a possible bigger leak starts. Have you tried to tighten the bulkhead a bit? Just be careful not to over tighten it and crack the glass. Not knowing how your piping is under the tank, could you possibly cut the pipe and install a union? This way, you could replace the bulkhead, and a union could be installed to keep from replacing everything?

    hope this helps
    Ken Higgins
    120 gallon reef
    125 gallon fresh water
    50 gallon fresh water

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    • #3
      James, in addition to what Ken said, take your time and do the job right. If you add a power head or two in the main display and stir up up the surface, you can cut off your sump and operate indefinitely on the sump plumbing.

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      • #4
        Hi James,
        You need to be careful about overtightening the bulkhead. The bulkheads tend to crack when overtightened. They should be hand tight. Don't use a tool.

        How long ago did you set the tank up? did you use thread tape or put silicone on the threads? I have done this in the past and it has worked for me. I do not wait for the silicone to dry. It will dry and create its own gasket. Also, did you put the gasket on the inside or outside? I think your idea of cleaning the gasket is good.

        I have a union check valve that leaked when I first installed it and I put thread tape and silicone on the threads and the it stopped leaking. However, I am getting a new sump so when I replumb my tank and I will not be putting that back on. I will replace it.

        I also found out that there are different grades of thread tape. Some are thicker and more durable than others.

        I hope you get the leak fixed soon.
        Lynne

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        • #5
          So, this tank has been set up for years and not leaked. The silicone is already getting moist again and I think you guys are right about it being temporary. I was watching BRS TV about their bulkhead installation. I do have it installed correctly with the gasket on the inside (wet) side. My next step is to scrape off the silicone, loosen the fitting and clean the glass and gasket and retighten. Hopefully this will stop any further leaking. It is leaking on two of my three fittings as I have the silent overflow system. If I have to replace the fitting then it will be such a pain because I really didn't leave much room for any repairs between the tank and wall. Wish me luck.
          75 Gallon mixed reef tank. 40 gallon sump. 2 Ecotech Radion G4 LED
          30 gallon freshwater community tank

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