The biggest fear that any user with liquid cooling on their PC can have is, without a doubt, leakage. If the pump or fans fail, the protections of the processor or GPU must be activated and slow down or shut down the PC, but if the leak occurs, it can preempt or cause different destruction of one or more components Leakage in the liquid cooling system ?
First of all, you need to be completely honest and aware of what you have on hand. A liquid cooling system, be it AIO or custom, is a "living" set, by definition active and with wear and tear. It’s sensitive to temperatures, changes in them, dirt, micro-evaporation, capillarity, and of course failures in various components, so it’s all complicated.
Why there are leaks in the liquid cooling system?
A very interesting issue, generated in all cases by the same causes, although not the same means and forms. Here one must logically distinguish between AIO and Custom, because the components and the structure, as well as the fluids used are not remotely similar.
In an AIO system, the manufacturer has specifically designed each part to be accompanied by another, and therefore it is a much more reliable system from a technical point of view, but in practice this is not the case. Leaks in AIO systems continue to occur and the factors are always the same:
- Defective component.
- Capillarity and entry of micro-dust.
- Poor assembly.
That we get a defective nylon braided hose, have an o-ring in poor condition or pinched, that the internal coating of blocks and hoses is inadequate, or that they have a defect on the assembly line is within the realm of the plausible, and is usually the most common of errors. Obviously there are others that are a problem, such as polarized 4-pole pumps that end up not working and increase internal pressure and literally burst a component, or for example hoses that get pinched due to poor positioning and create the same effect described.
- Poor fit of the fittings.
- Oversized pump for the system.
- Excessive pressure on components with plexi or acrylics.
- Off-center pump shafts.
- Crushed O-rings.
- Poor assembly or little force when tightening fittings, elbows or various extensions.
- Poorly designed and executed system.
Since we exclude for supposedly poorly thought-out component designs (there are many examples in the industry and unfortunately very current), which in itself makes the leak irreparable and must process RMA.
How to avoid liquid cooling leaks?
First, we will give some keys that must be clear to us before we get to work. In an AIO we can not do anything, because the system is exactly the All In One, ie.h. it comes pre-assembled ready to use as standard. The only thing we can do ahead of time is to test the AIO out of the box, and before assembling it with a tapped source and an Aquaero or similar type external controller, a rehobus with PWM and 3 pins would also be optimal.
What we need to do is to let it work in its full speed range and gradually heat the cooling plate of the block to a temperature of 50 degrees if possible (a heat laser gun or a heat probe is needed to control the temperature). So we simulate the operation of the GPU or CPU and we give the water time to heat up, thereby increasing the pressure in the system to see if it has a leak.
Since it is an AIO, it would be necessary to talk to the store or manufacturer in question. How about a custom liquid cooling system? Now, this is where it gets pretty complicated, so we’ll try to go through the steps, but first we need to buy one more component: the liquid cooling leak tester. This will be critical to everything we need to do, and it will be the only useful tool to determine the viability of the entire system.
The first step and check is to do this component by component, except in the pipes, if they are soft or rigid for obvious reasons. It is tremendously complicated that a hose is crushed, cracked or just has micro cracks, a visual inspection with a good eye is enough, but if we are suspicious we have to use a connector at each end where we put the tester in one of them and in the other a connector.
The method for everything is the same and it is really slow, very slow if we want to do it right. To save the pipes as said, we need to check for each component of the system, be it blocks, radiators, tanks or tanks with pumps, as well as rotary extension fittings between 1 and 8 hours, duplicators, T or valves.
The pressure must be between 0.5 bar and 0.75 bar, each of them must maintain the pressure without moving one iota of the mark where we stop introducing air. As said, time is of the essence and we recommend a pressure of 0.75 bar, as we are cold at about 0.4 can be.
When we know that all components are 100% watertight, comes the first step, which is nothing more than assembling the system section by section. For each section of pipe made, the system must be closed at one end and pressure and tightness checked at the other end. This is expandable as the circuit grows, and is critical to detect bad assemblies or faults in it without having a nice liquid festival for the PC to use.
It is the one that is carried out with the system assembled and logically without liquid. We assume that we have left a drain valve in the system, so we will introduce the leak detector, and after the pressure reaches 0.75 bar we need to leave the system in standby mode for 24 hours.
If the needle is still in place after this time, perfect, then we can refill without fear. After this, and with the appropriate wipes, napkins or liquid collection system that we prefer, the PC must circulate for another 24 hours to ensure proper cleaning, and of course it is necessary to know every connection. You don’t have to do a stress test, at least the first 8 hours and as long as everything goes well.
After that, we can query how much heat the system can dissipate and how it behaves under pressure, thus avoiding a leak in our liquid cooling system.