Custom water cooling and draining

I’ve built most of my own PCs over the last twenty years but around the time the pandemic hit I decided to experiment with building custom loops. I’ve mostly only done soft tubes as hard tubing is just an additional pain if you ever want to replace or swap hardware and I do fair amount of tinkering.

But, even with soft tubing hardware swapping is a pain as it often requires draining the loop. Installing the loop ahead of time with a specific drain port in mind is important and for small form factor cases this makes it pretty simple. You just connect a length of soft tubing to the drain, open the drain, and then rotate the case around its different axes until gravity pulls all the liquid out.

It gets a little more difficult with heavier cases or larger cases and sometimes you need a second set of hands to help lift and rotate it.

Where it gets more tricky is if you actually build a PC into a piece of furniture like a desk case. This is where I’m at and if I had a time machine I would slap my previous self in the face for creating such a huge pain in the ass. I can’t be the first person with this problem so I’m writing this.

I think the easiest answer is using some type of compressed air to blow all the fluid out of the loop. Blowing into the intake has been tried - this initially worked a little bit but the size of the loop is large and I can’t maintain with exhalation enough air pressure long enough to get the fluid out of the two radiators. I can hear the fluid move inside the radiator but eventually I run out of breath and I can hear the fluid settle back into its previous position inside the radiator.

Has anyone else attempted using some type of compressed air to clean the fluid out of a loop before? I’m concerned about doing damage to the radiator or possibly the tubing itself if I use something too strong. I have a couple of hand pumps but they aren’t able to generate consistent pressure long enough to move fluid out of a 480 radiator.

The other alternative is to take apart the entire damn thing so I can remove the radiators. That will work but doesn’t seem like a very elegant solution.

There are some videos out there of folks showing off their PC builds inside a desk and how they got the job done. In retrospect I wished I would have noticed that nobody talked about how they drained their loops.

I haven’t tried custom watercooling so can’t say anything from experience. If you have a decent drill, maybe use a drill pump to suck out the remaining liquid? You could moderate the speed if you’re concerned about damaging something.

Pretty sure I’m speaking for everyone when I say that we need pics of your setup!

Are you just trying to change all the fluid?

Why not just drain and fill the reservoir? Fill it with new , run they pump, and repeat a few times, you will probably end up changing 90% of the fluid for sure.

Insert monitor joke

@J_Thomas: I hadn’t thought of that. Will check it out, thank you for the idea!

RE: pics, its not presentable at all right now. Maybe in a little bit :)

@lordkosc: Yeah, just trying to change all the fluid, starting to look a little used after about six months. I think your suggestion makes a lot of sense. I’ve got a small electric pump that I tested on a separate rig and it seemed to work OK, but it’s a smaller loop. If that doesn’t work I think you’re right about just serial filling doing the trick.

Thank you for the responses!