Do It MacGyver Style: 5 Quick Fixes to Save Your Hydro Systems
Your hydroponic system, even if you bought it as a kit, is likely to break at some point. That’s the case with any appliance you buy at a store or complex system that you build yourself.
Remember, if you’re a hydroponic gardener, you’re running a machine that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and for months, if not years, at a time. Since it’s a large, interconnected system you will often need to fix it right away if something goes wrong. Without a quick fix, you could lose a whole crop in just a few hours.
That’s why it’s important to be ready for problems with your system. Then, if something bad happens, you’ll be ready to MacGyver it!
12 Important Emergency Hydroponic System Supplies
Your first safeguard against hydro system disasters is to have a good supply of tools and components at the ready. Then, when that disaster hits, you can go straight into action instead of bolting to the hardware store. If you built your own system, you may already have these supplies available.
- Plumber’s Putty – This putty helps to provide a watertight seal along two different components. In “regular” plumbing, it’s used, among other things, to create seals between sinks and spigot fixtures.
- Teflon Tape – Another typical plumbing supply, Teflon tape is used around the threads of pipes to provide a watertight seal with its female counterpart.
- Plastic Sheeting
– For temporary fixes, a roll of plastic sheeting can be helpful to plug a hole – and by temporary, we’re talking a few hours at most.
- Spare Pipe/Hose – Always keep lengths of pipe and hose that fit the sizes you use in your system.
- Elbows, Tees, Caps and Couplings – These fittings should match your pipe and hose sizes.
- PVC Pipecutter – This tool lets you quickly cut PVC pipes and hoses.
- Sandpaper –
An important tool to prep a surface prior to applying an adhesive.
- Pipe Cleaners & brushes – Flexible brushes that break up accumulations in a pipe.
- PVC Solvent Cement, Shoe Goo and Marine Epoxy – These glues and fillers can fix leaks or create seals in plastic pipes and containers.
- Emergency Pumps –
A spare aquarium pump and a small water pump to replace any that give out.
- Mesh Tape – A tape that provides a form to follow while other fixes take effect.
- Duct tape – How could we not include this on a list like this? Duct tape is basically eight items on this list in one product!
We don’t use all of these items in the fixes below, but you’ll find uses for them all over time. We promise!
5 Quick/Temporary Hydroponic Fixes
How are these disasters hitting your poor hydroponic system? Cracks and punctures could happen if you drop something on the system. Seals often give out over time. A clogged line could happen as a result of a bad nutrient mix or when an errant seed or leaf enters the system.
With any plumbing-based problem to your hydroponic garden, take steps to rescue what you can of your nutrient solution. That can even include temporarily closing your drain and powering off your pumps and transferring your nutrient solution to a back-up tank (or even holding it elsewhere in the system). Whatever you do, make sure your plants stay hydrated while your repairs are on-going.
Now that you have your supplies pulled together and understand what can happen to your system, let’s look at some MacGuyver-style solutions to keep it all together.
- Puncture in Nutrient Solution Tank – A puncture in a nutrient tank can create a slow leak or you could see your entire solution drain out in less than a minute. Once it’s empty (through the leak or after you’ve taken steps to remove it), dry and then rough up the damaged area with sand paper. Next place mesh tape over both sides of the hole and then cover it with a sealant. For good measure, you can further seal the hole with a bit of plastic sheeting or tarp.
- Leaky Seal – Losing nutrient solution drip-by-drip from a joint or bad seal may not seem like a big problem, but all those drips add up over time. A month’s worth of drips could spike your water bill or simply cost you a lot to replenish lost nutrients. A quick fix to any leaky joint or seal is to rough up the outer part of the seal or joint and then applying Shoe Goo to plug it. A better fix is to disassemble the offending linkage and resealing it with plumbers putty, Teflon tape or a new washer.
- Crack in Grow Tray Lid – Breaks in the tray that suspends your plants above their nutrient solution can happen easily. Since this tray may be custom-built, it’s important to keep it in one piece. Duct tape is an obvious solution, but also try applying marine epoxy and mesh tape to hold it together. This combination should maintain the integrity of the lid.
- Clogged Line – Your water lines may get clogged with gunk or debris. When that happens your pump could burn out as it tries to flush the line in its normal fashion. Have spare tubing available that you can switch out once a month or so. After swapping, run a pipe cleaner or brush through it to break up any accumulations. Also try flushing it with a stronger flow of hot water, which can further eliminate build-ups.
- Stopped Pump –
The pumps used in hydroponic systems vary quite a bit. Some are as simple as a simple aquarium pump, while others will move tens of gallons of water a minute. If your water pump stops working, unplug it and give it a quick cleaning with a pipe cleaner. This may be sufficient to get it moving water again. For air pumps, check that its intake vent isn’t clogged (after unplugging) and brush that area down to free any debris. Also check for kinks in your hoses that could be creating a problem. Creating a filter for both will prevent future stoppages but that may impact its capacity.
Safer® Brand: Your Source for Hydroponic Nutrients
Whether you’re an experienced grower or you’ve just purchased your first hydroponic system, look to Safer® Brand to supply you with the nutrients you need to feed your plants. You can also check out Safer® Brand’s pest control options, many of which are OMRI Listed® and compliant for use with organic gardening.
If you want to learn more about organic gardening, join the Safer® Brand Facebook community. By subscribing to the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter, you get news of new Safer® Brand products and links to helpful articles like this one. Eager to earn money back on every purchase? Then check out our Rewards Points program, too!