If you are interested in growing plants with hydroponic systems and you’d like to know how PVC pipes can affect your hydroponic growth, this article is for you.
What Are PVC Pipes?
PVC pipes are commonly used for hydroponic systems and it is not difficult to see why. They come in all shapes and sizes, can be customized according to your needs and are extremely affordable.
1.Schedule40 PVC pipe is the most common size and is used in many hydroponic irrigation systems. It has a white exterior with gray markings on it to indicate the inside diameter and schedule number. The largest schedule 40 pipe measures around four inches in diameter. Schedule 40 PVC is known for its strength and durability, but it’s not flexible like some other types of plastic tubing.
2.Schedule 80 PVC pipe is slightly thinner than schedule 40, but it has a thicker wall because it’s designed to carry the same volume at higher pressures. It has a dark gray exterior with blue markings on it to indicate the inside diameter and schedule number. Schedule 80 PVC is used for larger hydroponic irrigation systems or where a stronger pipe than schedule 40 is needed, but flexibility isn’t essential.
3.Flexible PVC piping is more commonly referred to as vinyl tubing, and it’s typically used for smaller hydroponic systems that don’t require the pressure strength of either type of rigid PVC piping.
For the most part, PVC pipes are considered safe for growing food, however there might be some health risks associated with them. In this article we will discover if there is any danger associated with using PVC pipes in hydroponics and how they affect plant growth.
PVC pipes and how they affect hydroponic growth.
There’s a lot of people out there, especially in the commercial sector, that use PVC pipes to build their hydroponic grow systems, but I’m here to tell you they really shouldn’t be used in an indoor hydroponic garden.
The reason again is because PVC pipes are made from polyvinyl chloride which is a hard plastic that’s usually used for plumbing because it’s cheap, and it does not break down easily. That’s why it’s great for plumbing. And as we all know, plastic is petroleum-based so when plastic gets hot it can leach chemicals into the water and soil. This will affect the way your plants grow and make them less healthy. It can also lead to diseases and problems with roots.
How Are PVC Pipes Used in Hydroponics?
PVC pipe is one of the most common materials used for hydroponic systems. It’s cheap, easy to work with, and can be customized to fit your specific needs. Here are a few of the many ways PVC is used in hydroponics:
Supports other parts. PVC pipes are used to build the frame of an ebb and flow or flood and drain system. They’re also used as stands for other parts like pumps and reservoirs.
Trays for growing mediums. Because it’s so cheap, PVC is commonly used as a container for soilless media like gravel or clay pebbles.
Pipes that deliver nutrients and water to roots. In aeroponic systems, PVC pipes are often used to deliver water directly to roots on a consistent basis.
Laying Out the System
You’ll need to decide what type of system you want to build even before you consider your plumbing. In a recirculating hydroponics system, the water is pumped from the reservoir, sent through the growing medium and then returned to the reservoir. However, in a gravity-fed system, the water flows from one container to another.
Once you know the type of system you want to build, you can decide how much PVC pipe you will need.
The first thing that you need to do is to calculate how much PVC pipe you will need for your system. This will be determined by how many plants you plan on growing and how big each plant is going to get. The general rule of thumb is that each plant will require 1 square foot of space. If you’re planning on growing six plants, then you’re going to need 6 square feet of space for them.
Next, determine the total length of PVC pipe that will be required for your system by measuring the height and width of your grow area. The height and width are important because they determine how much water is needed for each plant. For example, if your plants are four feet tall and three feet wide, then your total length would add up to ten feet.
pH and PVC Pipes in hydroponic systems
PVC pipe is commonly used in hydroponic systems. It’s durable, inexpensive, and when properly constructed, can last for years.
But before you decide to use PVC for your hydroponic system, look at the pH levels of your nutrient solution. The PVC pipe itself will have an effect on the pH of the water flowing through it. Even if you start with a neutral pH level — 7.0 — you could end up with either an acidic or alkaline solution after flowing through the pipes.
Why is this important? Because every nutrient solution is different, and each tends to have a specific pH range that works best for that particular blend of nutrients. If the pH of your nutrient solution changes dramatically on its way to your plants’ roots, it could be too acidic or alkaline for those nutrients to work effectively.
If you’re using PVC pipes in a DWC hydroponic system, the problem is particularly acute because oxygenated water can flow through those pipes for hours or days before reaching the root zone.
How to Treat PVC Pipes for Hydroponic Use
The most important reason for treating PVC pipes for hydroponic use is to remove the plasticizers which can leach out of the pipes. These plasticizers are harmful to plant life and can even cause plant death. Treating PVC pipes for hydroponics is quite simple.
You need to fill the pipes with water and then heat them to just below the boiling point. The amount of time you need to heat them will depend upon the size of the pipe and how much water it contains. A five-gallon bucket full of water should boil in about 10 minutes over a single burner on a gas stove.
Once that has been done, empty all of the water out and refill with fresh water so that you have clean pipes ready to use in your hydroponic system.
How Long Does It Take To Treat A Hydroponic Pipe?
The amount of time it takes to treat a pipe will depend upon how much heat you apply, how large the pipe is, and how much water it contains. If you have a small pipe, you may be able to boil it in as little as twenty minutes. However, if you are treating larger pipes then it may take as long as two hours or more depending upon the number of burners you are using.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. We’ve only discussed some of the more important issues you have to consider when using PVC for hydroponics. However, these are important issues that you can’t afford to ignore. Using PVC for hydroponics will work, as long as you understand its limits and work within them.