STOP! If you have just arrived at this website looking for hydroponic bucket plans, you might want to go back to page one of this mini-farm plan.
NOW, let's get started!
The grommet and elbow fixture is really the only “tricky” part of this project. This elbow will extend into the bottom of the bucket as a port for a water level indicator tube. It is important that it be leak- proof while still allowing the elbow to turn in the grommet. This will make more sense later. Just follow the directions exactly and you will end up with a leak-proof joint.
Here's how to build hydroponic bucket systems:
First you want to install the clear tube indicator in the side of the bucket. This tube does two things:
1. Use the power drill to drill a 3/4” hole in the side of the bucket about 1” up from the bottom. Go slowly and carefully, holding the drill very securely. Hold on tight, spade drills can get away from you. You don't want to create a hole any larger than the 3/4” drill bit, or it won't be watertight later. Smooth the inside and outside of the hole lightly with sandpaper to remove any burrs or debris.
2. Insert the grommet into the
hole. Work carefully and seat it so it flares out on the inside and the
outside of the bucket. It will fit a little loose at this point. The
insertion of the elbow piece later will tighten up the seal.
3. Carefully work the barbed elbow piece into the gasket. It helps to lubricate it with a tiny bit of liquid soap to ease insertion. Take your time and use a little bit of force to seat it properly. You don't want to push the grommet thru and have to start all over.
Once the elbow is in, make sure the grommet is even all the way around, inside and outside the bucket. See photos below.
(Inside the bucket)
4. At this point,
you can add extra insurance against leakage by adding a bead of silicone
around the grommet. We did not do this, and still had a leak-proof
joint. But if you test your system and find it does leak around the
grommet, go to a pet shop and buy aquarium grade silicone sealant (do not use household silicone caulk, as it has chemicals in it that will leach into the nutrient solution).
Seal the grommet with a small bead of caulk around the outer edges ONLY. You will have to use your finger to smooth it. You want to seal the black grommet to the orange bucket, but you do not want to glue the white elbow port to the black grommet. It is essential that the elbow is able to turn freely in the grommet.
5. After the silicone has cured thoroughly, push the 1/2” clear tubing down over the outside port of the barbed elbow. If it doesn't fit tightly, clamp it in place on the elbow piece with a small 1/4” hose clamp (hardware store). Loosely tape the tubing upright against the side of the bucket.
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