This was our first attempt at a system using sewer pipes as reservoirs. With this particular prototype, we got to a more workable reservoir with the sewer pipes, we found we could use the top reservoir to suspend the bottles (then realized this makes cleaning difficult), and realized that lawn irrigation drip emmitter buttons do not work well.
We had been having two issues with my tupperware reservoir system:
1) The brass fittings that connected the tupperware container to the tubes were very difficult to attach to the soft plastic of the tupperware container. When the plastic would bend, we developed little leaks.
2) We had been controlling the drip rate by progressively tightening clamps onto the tubes that fed each column, but we did not really have a fine enough degree of control.
We made the switch to these PVC pipes, which are often used in traditional home-built hydroponics systems. While there are plenty of things we don’t like about PVC, it is a cheap and easily accessible material with plenty of ready-made plumbing fittings, so it spares the beginner some headaches.
We installed drip emmitter buttons (black and yellow pieces on the underside of the top reservoir, as seen above ) but found that they clogged frequently, not being designed to deal with the particulate matter in liquid nutrients. We have since replaced the drip emmitters with two-way aquarium air control valves, which you can pick up at your local pet shop. They are not perfect either. You do need to watch your system and occasionally clear the valves when one of your columns stops dripping.
Luckily, the plants bounce back pretty quickly after you start the nutrient flowing again.
Finally, we realized that after about a month and a half, there was a lot of gunk clogging up the top reservoir and that we needed to clean it way more often– like every two weeks. It became apparent that suspending the columns from the top reservoir was not a good idea because then you have to take apart the whole system to clean the top tube. You will see that in the current how-to, we recommend hanging the columns separately.
In this system, we merely hung the CFL lights by their cords flat against the window and plants grew out toward them.