View Full Version : drilled tank issues

02-11-2010, 1:34 PM
This is my first drilled tank and I am having an issue with the return leaking. The pipe seems to be fastened well but I believe the seal for the attachment at the bottom may be the issue. If I had a small cup of water to the overflow chamber, water drips down the return pipe into the sump area. The rest of the tank (90 gallon) is already full of water, sand and liverock. Any ideas on what can be done? Do I just need to replace the return plumbing and if so can this be done without emptying the entire tank and breaking everything down?

02-11-2010, 1:50 PM
Are you saying that you believe that the leak is happening at the bulkhead, or at the pipe attaching to the bulkhead?

IF its the bulkhead, you may try pulling the durso to empty the overflow, and then removing the bulkhead, cleaning the glass/gasket/bulkhead, and then reinstalling. you want it snug but not TIGHT...finger tight plus 1/4 turn maybe? Also, and I dont mean this to be insulting, but the gasket is on the wet side of the bulkhead right?


02-11-2010, 2:15 PM
Not insulted at all. I am new to all this so I am sure my terminology is not correct. The tanks previous owner helped me move it, plumbing and all. It did not leak for him so I am thinking it needs to be tightened then. I am referring to the bulkhead. I took the pipe off and checked that when it first happened but could not find any signs of cracking or damage. Is it possible to twist the bulkhead from the bottom in order to tighten it or does this need to be done from inside the overflow? Thanks for the help so far.

02-11-2010, 2:30 PM
The bulkhead "Bolt" side and gasket should slip in from inside the overflow, and then the nut should be screwed in from underneath after you get to finger tight...depending on your hand strength, you should probably tighten another 1/4 turn or so...maybe 1/2 but no more...too tight can cause leaks just as easily as too loose.


02-11-2010, 3:05 PM
Thanks, I will check this out tonight and hopefully that will take care of the issue.

Seedless Reefer
02-11-2010, 4:32 PM
To me, your question was kind of vague on detail.

Do you see water leaking on the outside of the return plumbing and falling off at some point into your sump?

If yes than it is likely a bulkhead problem or it could be a crack in the pipe.

If the water is trickling down inside the return plumbing (with no visible water on the outside of the plumbing) into the return section of your sump than this is a different issue.

02-11-2010, 4:50 PM
Do you see water leaking on the outside of the return plumbing and falling off at some point into your sump?

Yes that is what is going on. It is a black hose connected to the bulkhead and the pump. I checked it for leaks and ensured it is securely fastened but water is still running down the hose and falling into the sump.

02-11-2010, 5:10 PM
How new is the set-up? I've had small leaks that stopped themselves after a few days

Hokie....... I know, but it happens with saltwater tanks that way sometimes....

02-11-2010, 5:20 PM
The tank was ran by the previous owner for more than a year.

Jaycen B.
02-11-2010, 5:57 PM
Dielectric grease on the gasket may help if it is leaking around the bulkhead.

Seedless Reefer
02-11-2010, 8:10 PM
Well I just set up my 90 after it was down for a period of time and my return leaked as well.

I undid the return and the drain and took them both out and inspected them for the following:

- Look at the bulkhead itself. You will notice that the bulkhead will have 2 seams running top to bottom on the threaded part....inspect this for a split.

- Look at flat surface that touches the gasket and make sure that that is flat with no pits, gouges etc.

- Check the gasket and make sure it is good.

- Check the connection bulkhead to whatever fitting you have coming out of it for example a nipple....make sure that this fitting is either glued in correctly or threaded tight with teflon tape.

Lastly I would suggest looking at the glass in the overflow where the bulkhead passes through and make sure that it is squeaky clean.

I always tighten my bulkheads witha bulkhead wrench because sometimes hand tightening just doesn't get the job done.

Good luck.

02-11-2010, 8:36 PM
Is it dripping from where the vinyl hose attaches to the bulkhead or between the glass and bulkhead nut? If from the hose, get a hose clamp and tighten it down over the hose on the bulkhead to seal it..

02-12-2010, 12:17 AM
I messed around some more tonight in a desperate attempt to stop it from leaking. The water is leaking between the glass and the bulkhead. I tried tightening the hex nut but it does not want to budge. I did notice when putting the hose back on that by twisting the hose when attaching the bulkhead will wiggle a little to the right or left. I am assuming this means the seal is shot. Is there anything I can try to fix this or am I stuck having to replace it? If so, does anyone know if a sponsor will make house calls? I really want to avoid tearing the tank apart to try and make the repair.

02-12-2010, 1:26 AM
If you have enough room in the sump you can try this:
Shut off all the pumps, it will drain down past the overflow teeth so no more water is running into the overflow.. Then pull out the pipe that attached to the leaking bulkhead, this will drain the overflow.. Unscrew the nut, pop the pipe back into the bulkhead so you can pull out the bulkhead attached to the pipe. Then pop a new seal on the bulkhead and push it back down real good and tighten the nut back up..should fix the problem.. Sounds more complicated than it is..

02-12-2010, 3:10 AM
I bet with a nice cookout offer you can get enough people over there with rubbermades to fix the problem within an hour and no wasted water or livestock.
Hot dogs and burgers are gooooood

Seedless Reefer
02-12-2010, 9:58 AM

02-12-2010, 11:56 AM
willing to supply the food for some help smoothie

02-12-2010, 2:03 PM
jblake where are you located?

02-12-2010, 2:05 PM

02-12-2010, 2:06 PM
I also have a piece of frogspawn with about 20 or so branches that I would be willing to make some frags from for those that can help.

02-12-2010, 2:07 PM
gah was just about to head out to marietta. PM me your address and I can come take a look...Ill bring my bulkhead wrench


02-12-2010, 2:36 PM
You could also try flipping the gasket around, meaning take it off the bulkhead and turn it upside down and reinstall. Sometimes that works. sometimes you need a new gasket. I have several extra bulkhead gaskets. I always save them. I can get you a replacement gasket if you are willing to come pick it up, asssuming your bulkhead is 3/4" or 1" in size.

I'm just off exit 6 (Northridge Rd.) off 400 south from you.

You could always buy a new bulkhead from one of our Sponsors and that would solve your problem.

02-12-2010, 2:39 PM
Jblake you there? I am about to head out...


02-13-2010, 12:09 PM
sorry I missed you CJ. Offer still stands for corals/food for help if anyone is interested.

02-14-2010, 12:13 AM
Wish I lived closer. Post up a "who wants to help" thread. Go ahead and buy a new bulkhead in case that's what it comes down to

02-14-2010, 9:32 PM
picked up a new bulkhead today and swapped them out. Filled the tank up and it has been running for over an hour with no leaks. Hope it stays that way. Thanks to everyone who helped me out with this.

02-15-2010, 2:05 AM
Yes sir....nice!