HydroRed's DIY Budget Flood and Drain (approx $40)

HydroRed

3Thirteen Seeds
Staff member
This is an easy and affordable DIY Flood and Drain build. Anyone who knows me knows I like to do stuff on the cheap and this project is no different. This can be used either with the tray in the tote, or tray on a table and the tote as the reservoir.

PARTS NEEDED:
(1) "ODJOB" brand 7 gal mixing tray ($5.98 @ Lowes)

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(1) "Commander XXL" brand 27 gal tote ($8.99 @ Lowes)
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(1) 1/2" Fill - 3/4" Drain F&D bulkhead set ($8.99 @hydrostore or online)
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(1) 185 gph submersible pump ($12.49 at hydro shop or online)
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(2') 1/2" O.D. plastic tubing ($0.89 per ft at hydrostore or Lowes)
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The way this will work, is that the tray sits inside the top of the res, leaving space under the tray in the res to hold the water. The F&D kits gets installed into the tray any way you choose to do so that it fits your needs and pot count in the tray. The submersible pump sits under the tray in the tote (reservoir) and the 1/2" tubing connects the pump to the fill side of the F&D kit. I have labeled some of the parts by brand name specifically because I know they are an absolute perfect fit when used together. I have built 4 sets of these for myself and many more for others. They have been in use in my rooms for yrs now without any issue or fail so I know they work and am confident it will work just as good for you!

INSTRUCTIONS:

Drill out (2) 1-3/8" holes with a hole saw bit. The location of the holes should be dependent on how many pots you will be using and where you will be placing them. I use up to (6) 1gal pots so I drill mine accordingly but you can run any number of pots that you feel will work for you. Heres a couple examples of placement for your fill and drains with different pot sizes,count, and arrangements. Red represents fill, and green represents drain.
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-Connect the bulkheads onto the tray, sure to use the included rubber washers. No silicone or anything like that should be needed. Just put the screen top on the fill side, and put 1 collar and a screen on the drain side. Be sure you put the right pieces on the right sides or your table wont fill or drain properly. Again, you want just the screen top on the 1/2" fill bulkhead, and the collar AND the screen top on the 3/4" drain bulkhead (as shown).
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-Use the (2') of 1/2" tubing to connect the fill bulkhead on the bottom of the tray to the submersible pump and place the pump in the tote (reservoir).

-Place the tray into the top of the 27 gal tote (reservoir). Be sure there are no kinks in the 1/2" line when you place the tray into the tote. If there is, just cut some of the excess off so the line sets in the res comfortably connected to the submersible pump.
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-No tubing is needed for the drain portion since it will naturally just drain right back into the tote (reservoir) once the desired flood depth is achieved.

-Fill with water. I usually fill with 12 gal as this is enough to flood the tray, and still keep enough in the res so ther pump doesnt run dry or suck air.

-Connect the power cord from the submersible pump to a timer and set it to flood 15 min every 3-4 hrs (or as you feel is needed). This should be a good starting point until you determine the frequency of your floods. Once the timer cuts off, gravity will make the water flow back down to the res through the fill bulkhead and down through the submersible pump.

-Fill the tray with your potted plants in hydroton, adjust your nutrient strength & pH, and get to flooding -YOU'RE DONE!

TIPS:

Make sure the holes in the pots you use arent bigger than the hydroton (or whatever medium you use) or it will spill out during floods and make a mess of your clean flood tray and you'll be constantly picking out medium.

Be sure your tray sits flush down inside of the tote. You dont want any light in your reservoir. This is why I was "brand specific" on the tray and tote.

If you notice your flood level isnt where it once was, or if you notice bubbles coming from the fill while flooding -its time to add to the res.

You can use a sight tube to keep track of where your water level is or you can mark a line on the reservoir as a reference of where the water level should be.

You can use furniture dollies under the tote to make moving them around an easy task.

This same setup can be used on a table simply by getting the appropriate length of 1/2" and 3/4" tubing to run from the tray to pump in the res by drilling holes in the lid for the tubing to run through like shown:
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There are many size/brand variations of tote & tray combos you can use for very efficient, easy to build & easy to use hydroponic setups that produce results!!

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JL2G

๐Ÿ…ฑ๏ธ๐Ÿ†’๏ธ๐Ÿšน
Staff member
Q-36 Space Modulator
One of these days I'm gonna have to run one of these setups. Have never ran hydro of any form. Always soil for me.
Just way too many folk I see running them with bad ass results.
Makes me want to have one or two to play around with.
 

spyralout

๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ’จ
Staff member
One of these days I'm gonna have to run one of these setups. Have never ran hydro of any form. Always soil for me.
Just way too many folk I see running them with bad ass results.
Makes me want to have one or two to play around with.
You will not be disappointed. I started with 2 and now have over a dozen in action at any given time.
 

SSGrower

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ
Gonna give this a go.
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Its going to sit up on a rack so I will tube it back to the res, fill and drain will probably be at one end as my rack is tilted slighty so runoff water from the soil plants is easy to suck up. Will probably make more stoneware pots but with feet, any suggestions for other pot features?
 

HydroRed

3Thirteen Seeds
Staff member
Gonna give this a go.
View attachment 472
Its going to sit up on a rack so I will tube it back to the res, fill and drain will probably be at one end as my rack is tilted slighty so runoff water from the soil plants is easy to suck up. Will probably make more stoneware pots but with feet, any suggestions for other pot features?
That pot already seems pretty boss to me. Nice work!
 

HydroRed

3Thirteen Seeds
Staff member
I did recently start using these Hefty brand totes in the smaller tents. I use a 4.5 gal for the tray and an 8 gal for the res. The 4.5 gal sits perfectly inside the top of the 8 gal and has a little notched area for the pump cord to come out of without any pinch etc. They come in 4.5, 8, 10 & 18 gal sizes.

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Phylex

GK Genetics
Staff member
NIce! been looking at doing something like this for a drip feed system for soil. As much as I enjoy hand watering and checking out all the plants, I need that time back to do other stuff with plants.

I just switched over from hand watering to this. Have you looked into Flora Flex? I purchased their gutted heads, drip rings, and tubing. The PVC plumbing, and reservoir tote were purchased at Home Depot. I bought a digital timer so I could set on times by the minute from Amazon. I'm still using the same 1/2 gallon, cheap plastic, square pots. I've been digging that freed up time the most.
 

spyralout

๐ŸŒฑ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ’จ
Staff member
I did recently start using these Hefty brand totes in the smaller tents. I use a 4.5 gal for the tray and an 8 gal for the res. The 4.5 gal sits perfectly inside the top of the 8 gal and has a little notched area for the pump cord to come out of without any pinch etc. They come in 4.5, 8, 10 & 18 gal sizes.

View attachment 474
Yeeeeeaaa buddy ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘

The lids are really useful too. I use em as my ghetto trim bin. I actually prefer them cuz they slide in between the arms of my couch-chair snug. I also use em as temporary trays when I pull plants for inspection and harvest queueing.

 

SSGrower

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ
Couple of notes for those building their own here, for the pump power cord drill a hole the size of the cord in the lid, close to the edge lip. Use a razor blade to cut from the hole out to the edge, slide the cord thorugh the cut into the hole. Also I did not like how water was pooling in the bottom because the drain I got was raised slightly. My solution was to use a heat gun to warm up the plastic on the tub so I could form a drain basin.
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The wood blocks are there to limit where the bottom of the tub is deformed. The glass jar is there to protect the drain from heat, keep the plastic around the hole cool so it doesn't deform and to give me something to push on as I mould the basin. The plastic is ready to mould when it is uncomfortable to touch. Pictures were taken on the 2nd iteration of this but wasent deep enough so I did another round. The real trick here is not to over heat the plastic. I used this same technique to modify an automatic dog watering bowl so an ultrasonic mister sat at the right depth, a cheapo large capacity humidifier.
 

OldG

Elite Hobbyist
I have a few of these...and modified versions. I am switching over to floraflex and for the veggers i think i will do it in the same tote !

Either drain to waste (pull out the tray and dump the contents) or recirculating but drain to waste is the least problematic in that system.

I love the 14 gallon totes as a flood and drain for a 3 to 5 gallon fabric pot too. But you want to let that one get beastly for maximum effect.

I also used a lot of coco in them and as long as you top feed your top ups in the rez (pour the top up through your planters) you are usually pretty good for salt build up but the fabric pots will need a good wash after.
 

horribleherk

home grown
I've ran dwc with droppers & wateerfarmss as well as DTW but E&F is by far my favorite & the most trouble free for me it gives a good rapid rate of growth , works well with coco , hydroton, rockwool as well as soiless mixes sometimes simple is best
 

OldG

Elite Hobbyist
After playing with bubblers in the flood and drain...it is not necessary. A cheapo aquarium pump stirring it up (water not air pump) is enough to help keep things clean (with peroxide or pool shock if you are sterile).
 

HydroRed

3Thirteen Seeds
Staff member
After playing with bubblers in the flood and drain...it is not necessary. A cheapo aquarium pump stirring it up (water not air pump) is enough to help keep things clean (with peroxide or pool shock if you are sterile).
I agree, as the waterfall action on any F&D will be enough to keep the water oxygenated good without a bubbler. I havent used a bubbler or cirtculating pump since making the F&D totes (years) and all without any issue whatsoever.. I can see needing a circulating pump or something along those lines if you are running MC or something that seems to leave "stuff" in the reservoir between changes.
 
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