View Full Version : Leaky bulkhead?

02-21-2009, 06:13 PM
I'm not really sure if I am using the correct terms. This is my first time dealing with a sump and overflow. I just recently bought a 150 gallon tank from craigslist and it has the option for an overflow. I filled the tank up to check for leaks and everything was good. Then I checked the overflow box and it was looking through the bulkheads. Do I need to gut the plumbing and start over or can I just replace the bulkheads. Where do I get bulkheads from? ahhh I'm nervous to try this sump idea....but I know its a great filtration system.

I have attached some pictures (cuz we all know pics help!) They are from my camera phone so they aren't very good. if you notice you can see the glistening of the water lol.

Thank you for any input given.

02-21-2009, 07:31 PM

Usually your leak with these is going to be the seal (gasket) between the bulkhead flange and the aquarium bottom (inside of the tank, not underneath). If you just loosen it up, (or take it out if the plumbing pipes weren't glued and allow it) clean the tank where the gasket touches, the gasket, and the bulkhead flange, put a thin layer of aquarium silicone on both sides of the gasket, and then hand tighten, let it dry. don't over tighten because it may force all of the silicone out and / or even distort the gasket because the silicone makes it quite slick.... anyways....after the silicone has setup.. usually over night... you'll be good to go.

Also...I see some body did the right thing by putting flow adjustment valves on the lines.... they are invaluable for getting the right balance with the filter sump / overflow / pump.


02-22-2009, 01:04 AM
I think I found the problem. There isn't a seal between the bulkhead and the aquarium :confused: ..... hmmmm . I think I might have to redo the whole thing. It looks pretty ate up...

02-22-2009, 04:10 AM
Hello again,

That's too bad, either it must have been taken out or rotted and fell apart?Rubber gaskets do only last so long......sometimes when they get old they stick to the bulkhead flange and the rubber is so hard it seems like it's not rubber anymore. If the plumbing comes apart you could just replace the gasket but sometimes they aren't the easiest thing to find in the right size as a separate part. If you start from scratch and need to buy new bulkhead fittings..... http://www.jehmco.com/html/bulkhead_fittings.html

.....it's just a shame though because the bulkheads themselves don't usually have anything wrong with them unless someone tried to overtighten it and stripped the threads.


02-22-2009, 09:31 AM
Ditto. On the degraded gasket... this will happen sometimes with gaskets that are allowed to sit dry for too long after a tank is broken down. However, you'll usually see it more often where something has been used to provide an additional seal on the gasket. What I mean by that is that if the gasket is smeared with silicone or some other "enhancement" to the seal, it can degrade the material and cause the gasket to crumble. I've done more than my fair share of personal bulkhead installations, never mind where I've helped others. My 450 reef alone has some 50 bulkheads between the 2 closed loops, the open loop and the auto w/c and topoff. I only had a problem with 4 of them, and those 4 were installed by someone who was helping. I never use silicone on the gaskets, ever. I do, however, use a fairly thick bead of silicone on the flange on the outside of the installation. Other than the 4 bulkheads mentioned and one where I stupidly overtightened, I've never had a problem with leaking, even after moving tanks around.

02-22-2009, 01:08 PM
Thanks for the input guys...

This morning I sawed off the bottom so I could pull the pipes out and start over....

So I will have to start over.... yaaayy... fun project time!

(Hopefully I do it right lol)