Water Cooling - Quick Install/Leak Testing guide

Setup, Installing and Leak testing

Loop Setup

At this point you should have decided how it is all going to fit in your case so I will not go into that. Remember that the reservoir should be above the pump and that the pump should be at the bottom of the loop. Also remember that the pump puts a small amount of heat into the loop, so perhaps going from the pump to the rad is the best idea.

Personally I set the loop up like this:


This makes it a nice loop, especially as my radiator is the the top of the case. This means that the pump pumps straight up into the rad, allowing gravity to do the rest of the work. If you are unsure of how to get te loop planned then draw a simple diagram of your loop and ask in our Forum

Installing the Parts

When you start building the loop you need to fix your motherboard to your case. This allows you to sort out the spacing of the loop and gives you a reference. Test the length of the tubing by approximation and cut as necessary. "Measure twice, cut once" should be used here but I always make sure I have plenty of additional tubing to hand in case of errors like below:


If you think this looks pretty good then look closely. I've decided to route the fillport to the "out" part of the pump. This would mean a 10' fountain of water leaving my case. Oh dear! It is a good idea to check which way your pump flows before you fix the loop up!

Once you've measure up you can start "dry installing".

Here you can see me "Dry Installing" a loop. I've used some older pipes I had to check distances.

dry installing

Make sure when "Dry Installing" that you have put the clips on your pipes before you close each section off. As you can see I have used Jubilee clips for my loop. These are excellent in keeping a loop sealed up but should only be used with tubing that has walls that are thick enough not to split easily. Tighten them fairly tight, but not enough to split.

I tend to do the loop in sections working out the problems as I go, but you may want to plan a little more carefully. Remember patience is a virtue and especially when it involves H2O and your PC. Check and double check your not missing anything.

With the barbs I like to add some plumbers tape. Most barbs should come with an "o" ring that seals off the connection, but a bit of plumbers tape can't hurt anyone and gives you peace of mind.

plumbers tape

Make sure you seal off the loop nice and tight - water kills PC's remember ;)

Wet Testing

Dry Loop ready for some good ol' water:

dry loop

People like to do wet testing with all of the components outside of the PC. This is fine and if it's your first time I would probably advise it for sure. Once dry testing has been done and you loop seems to be sealed off well you just take everything out except the water cooling parts and start to fill.

"How will I get the pump going?" I hear you ask. This is fairly easy - just hook up your PSU to the power and "jump start" it. A how-to on this is found HERE. Hook up just the pump, but do NOT start the pump until you have some water in the loop. To get your loop to fill up you'll have to add a bit of water, start the pump. Then stop the pump and add a bit of water, start the pump.

This can take a while and is certainly a whole lot easier with a res than a fillport as the pump draws a lot of water. Remember some part of your loop has to be open (such as the res filling hole) as there is a lot of air to come out of that empty loop. Radiators are the worst for storing air so make sure you get it all out. Continue jump-starting the pump until it looks pretty good.

wet loop

Here is a loop I've filled ready to start a long leak-test period. I have kept the components in as I was pretty confident that the loop was fine. Not advised at home. Once you are pretty sure no leaks are occurring then add your coolant and colour.

Leak Testing Period

Depending on how safe you like to be this can range from a couple of hours to a full 12 hour leak test. For your first time 12 hours is generally the best thing to do. Once again you can do this without any components in the PC, but I prefer at this stage to get the mobo and GPU in there to make sure it fits ok.

A good tip for leak testing is to put some paper towelling on the bottom of your case. This means that if your loop has a leak overnight, there will be a water stain on the paper towelling, even if the water has dried up.

Once you're sure it's all safe you can hook it up and off we go..
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Most Recent Comments

21-09-2007, 11:23:30


The Radiator

There is a HUGE range of radiators. Generally you will want to make sure you pick a rad with enough cooling power to cool what you have. A dual core SLI system needs at least a double rad and more likely a triple rad for better performance. If you have a slightly smaller system you can get away with less.

Good solid rads include: XSPC, Black Ice Xtreme and Hardware Labs PA120.

HardwareLabs make Black Ice radiators. ThermoChill make the PA120 series.Quote

21-09-2007, 11:57:53

Mr. Smith
You are correct!

A mod/admin will pick this up when they see it...

Wlcome to the forums mate Quote

21-09-2007, 14:31:58

woooo hey Marci! Welcome to OC3D, love ur workQuote

21-09-2007, 19:27:56

Oops, my bad

I'll get this sorted soon Quote

27-11-2009, 17:34:14

As this was an old article I hope people are still listening. I have a watercool setup that I could of done better. Next week I'm getting a new better cpu block and will have to take it apart. According to the article they recommend first installing the block and then making the connections but my fear is that drops of existing coolant will spill out of the tubes on to the motherboard while reconnecting every thing. So what recommendations can you make when your modifing your loop?

Thank you.Quote

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