New RDWC system setup

@HappyHydroGrower hey man!
So I’ve been compiling a list of things to get for my new Rdwc, just wondering what size pvc do you run? 2” or 3”? Any issues with roots ever getting clogged?

I’m going to configure a 4 tote system, including a rez. Thinking like a 8 or 12gal size.
Any recommendations on some good seals/bulkheads that likely won’t leak on me.
And any other wisdom so I can just get it right the first time? :laughing::+1:


This is a little DIY, but I also run RDWC, And I run 3 plants in one rez, with my fill rez being outside the tent. I run 2 inch pipes from them , then my 3/4 ID hose from my pump inside the fill rez back into the main rez with blacked out hose. With the flow going through the 2 inch pipe, out the tent. I have never had issues with roots clogging the system , they usually just string through, and say hi in the full res after a few weeks flower. My entire build holds about 15 gallons of water at a time, 7 1/2 gal in each res, one inside the tent and one outside. I fed the pipe connecting them through a small incision at the bottom of the tent.

The DIY part is see…I’m no plumber. So by the time I discovered grommets/bulkheads/proper seals, I had already invested in silicone Caulk. Which does the job very well. No cracks, water resistant, and will NOT damage/poison your plants. Circle blades and silicone caulk have kept my entire grow together and pumping!

BUT if you have access to some large seals or grommets at your local hardware store, I would say grab some of those. But , in a pinch, you cannot find those. SILICONE caulk will do you wel! Just test your seals once they are done!

Cheers :dash:


@Trvff Hey!! Thanks for the reply, I appreciate any and all info I can gather on rigging up a new system.
I just finished my first grow, and as successful as it was, it was 100x more of a headache then any human should deal with. I did 6 individual DWC buckets. Absolute nightmare.

So you have PVC running inside the tent for the water circulation, then a hose going from outside rez to some connection inside the tent. That’s a good idea, I think i’ll be placing my fill rez outside the tent as well, and surely it’d be easier to rig up using a hose instead of using PVC for it :+1: :grinning:


Very much so! More moldable for where you want it to go, and plus the only thing flowing through the hose, is water. I bought a cheap pond pump and it’s what circulates my water through the two res’.
The only PVC I have is about a two foot pipe connecting the res’. The rest is hydroponic hose, which is made of black rubber. So I have my main res, with the plants, 2 foot pVC coming out the right side, through the tent and connects to another outside the tent. then a pump inside my fill res that my hose is connected to that runs out and back into the other side of my plant res. Constant flow, no backup!

And I learned as I went too! I’m finishing up my third run, and I’m constantly changing the set ups and the way things run. I started in one basin, just straight DWC and I second on how much of an absolute headache it was. Immediately turned it into RDWC and got myself a water chiller. Which is probably my most important piece of equipment, aside the lights that do all the work :+1:t4:


I run 1.5" pvc feed line from the res to the back of my 20 gal totes where it T’s off to each tote.

I had 3/4" black tubing for returns but I wanted to go all pvc, so I changed to 3/4" pvc returns.
Also insulating all lines will help with keeping temps around 68*, along with a chiller. Some can get away without it and some cannot.

My system holds about 21 gal now that I have reconfigured, down from 22 gal.

I have a 400 gal/hr. water pump from active aqua rated for 20-40 gal of water. Too much flow will cause roots to grow faster and longer and into pipes more because they tend to follow the flow of water.

My system is a little different in the fact it’s an undercurrent system instead of water being fed into the top of a bucket/tote. So the water always flows under the roots. It doesn’t make it better, just another option for rdwc to work. There is probably not much difference when it comes to growing between whichever system you have as long as it works and doesn’t leak.

Experience with whatever system you have will help you grow bigger plants.

I have had roots get into the 3/4" tubing once, maybe twice but nothing to stop it up.
Now, I just check periodically to make sure there is not a stray root trying to slip out through the outlet. When roots get close, (usually only during the stretch), 'll just reach in and fold them back over themselves. Easy peasy! :wink:
I also off-set my netpots to the rear of my tote lid to help with that… which it definitely does.

What size tent?

There is always a chance for leaks… :grimacing: It’s like anything else, just needs a little tlc every now and then… (PM) Prevented Maintenance.

I like the bulkheads. There are several options.
Uni-seals are hard to deal with and IMO, not practical for a lot of PM. Some folks can manage them with no issues, others can’t.

You can get by with less expensive bulkheads or you can buy a good solid quality bulkhead designed for heavier use. (You won’t regret it IMO).

If you are gonna go rdwc, then go all in and do it right.

Don’t over size your water pump. Use an appropriate size water pump for the amount of water plan to have.

@Chrisr36 DON’T use silicone!.. sorry brother @Trvff:scream: :grimacing:
Unless you don’t mind water everywhere… It will happen! The weight of the water can weaken the bond between the pvc and the bucket/totes. Not to mention moving it around and cleaning it may break the bond.
Luck may be on your side…lol

Water: More water will provide a better root environment and help stabilize pH and ppm’s.
Air: The more the merrier… :+1:

Keep it simple. Less can be more when it comes to hydro… especially when it comes to ppms…

Nutes: Depending on brand of nutes, you might want to make sure you are running a good quality hydroponic nutrient. Try to stick with the basics nutes at first until you get use to how your system is gonna run. That way, you establish a starting/base point. It can be hard to tell what may be happening, if or when, an issues arises if you have a lot of extra stuff in there.

Are you gonna scrog?
How are you gonna scrog?

Not necessary, just something to think about.

Scrogging is why my system is set up like it is.
Many ways to accomplish the same goal.

More questions, ask away!.. Good luck. :+1: :v: :sunglasses:


I do indeed plan to change one day! Like I said, I jumped in head first without testing the waters first :sweat_smile:

But absolutely, listen to @HappyHydroGrower as they have you in a wonderful direction! Do it all legit, and secured. Better safe than sorry,

I’m a bit of a duct tape/ silicone Macgeyver :joy::joy:

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I do understand. Just goes to show others that there are many ways to grow.

No expert here, just trial and error in some cases. :+1:t2::v::sunglasses:


This is the same way im going to put mine together.
I’ve been putting some more thought into what kind of totes I want to use, and now im not entirely sure.
Was considering grabbing a couple more 12gal ‘heavy duty’ totes from Lowe’s, but I dont like the layout of them. My netpot didnt fit well on my last one. So perhaps i’ll change to just a 2-3 tote setup, perhaps 14gal totes, or 20g?

I’ve got a 4x4 tent, but its sitting in an empty room. So plenty of space outside of the tent.

1000% there, I never shortcut this stuff! I want to do it and get it right the first time. Or mostly anyways ha.

Question Happy, suggestions on a water chiller? I learned the haaard way this last grow how crucial it is for my area. Main concern tho, is the chiller puts off heat, my dehumidy puts off heat, and the AC for that room is fairly weak. Wonder if chiller+dehumy would generate to much heat.

I’ve been using the Flora Trio, Hydroguard & Cal-Mag this entire last grow. Those are good or reputable brands ya?

And no idea, something very similar to yours I’d assume

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One option is to put 2 large totes in a 4x4. That will give you plenty of room to work around the plants. 4 plants will make it pretty crowded.

If you have a room to grow in and you didn’t have to use a tent, that might open up some more options. You can always use a corner of the room and make and hang some curtains to block off that area kind of like I did.



Totes: Use the black and yellow 27 gal totes from HD and use a garbage can for a reservoir. That will give you plenty of water to work with. I use 20 gal tote from lowes.

I use this trash can from walmart because it was big enough to connect two pipes to but have now gone to one feed line.

Hefty 20.4 gal Dual Function XL Plastic Divided Kitchen Trash Can, Black


It has nice flat sides to attach bulkheads to. Be careful of some of the totes that are too flimsy. You want a good thicker mil tote that will support the amount of water you have without bowing out too much.

I got this one when it was a lot cheaper. You can do a search and find less expensive on the web then from amazon. It tells you in the description what size to use for how many gal of water you have.

They will produce heat but in a room, I’m not sure it will be a big issue. I have a 5x10 room that I have my setup in and I am able to keep it within range. No AC in the room, just circulating air with my exhaust fan.

Absolutely! I use to use GH but made the switch to Jacks and never looked back. I’m glad I did.

Build a base frame and zip tie it to your tote lid. Then you can build whatever size scrog you want and attach to it on top of it.



I don’t have pictures of my new scrog yet but I made it fully adjustable. (Up and down.)

Hope his helps some. :+1:t2::v::sunglasses:


@HappyHydroGrower I am curious how dirty the external pipes get and if they clogged with roots…I am reluctant to go to RDWC because of the extra work to clean pipes after a grow…In my single tote/reservoir DWC end of harvest cleanup is really simple and easy but maybe I am missing a better grow if I added the extra stuff…


Can get some neoprene bulkheads for $7 each on amazon for 3" pipe. I run 6 13 gallon stations connected with 3" pipe, the roots can get crazy and prevent good flow due to the interconnectivity so i have a 2" bypass drain. Everything runs into a main 3" return line where i have a filter bag tied to it in the res. I also run a 300 gallon fish tank canister filter and a chiller this facilitates not changing my res ever except from veg to flower.


@Jarlax so what is involved with your end of harvest clean up of the system before starting another grow…that is a lot of pipe there

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That is an amazing set Brother :love_you_gesture:


@Retiredoldguy i use muck away bacteria for ponds, and Dr. Tims Waste Away bacteria for aquariums. Fill it with clean water and that and let it run for a week. Bacteria army cleans it, i rinse it out with hose. I use this during grow also, air stones and pipe stay spotless throughout.


@Jarlax so you never disassemble and clean it …leave all connected and run the stuff thru it …Sounds easy enough…

and how exactly are you using this during the grow???

2 ml per gallon Dr Tims once a week @ $90 a gallon and when you mix res, 1 muck away tablet per week and when you mix the res. Forgot to mention 2ml per gallon barley straw extract “prevents brown and green algae”


@Jarlax thanks…I would not have thought adding those things to the normal nutrient mix and circulated during the grow would be ok but it apparently is not an issue


I started out using garden hose for the return. It is too porous and will grow a lot of algae.
Even though it’s dark, it’s porous.

So, I went with a black tubing from hydro store. Its not porous, but it is slightly translucent.

Therefore, like pvc, it has to be blacked out completely. Hence the reason for me going all pvc and wrapping it in reflectix. Main thing IMO is making it completely blacked out.

As far as roots goes.
I offset my netpot to the back of the tote near the inlet to give roots room to grow which I think you can see it in the pic above.

I have 3 air stones in each bucket. I keep one between the roots and the outlet. It does a great job of making the roots bubble back away from the outlet. I check it regularly just by lifting the tote lid.
It has never come close to clogging.
You can see here how they grow, along with the help of folding the roots back over themselves if they get close.


They grow like this every time. With the scrog tied to the lid, it makes it supper easy to take care of them.

This was the first time I have cleaned it in 2.5 years.
Brand of nutes will make a huge difference.
Jacks is a clean and on the clearer side of nutes. It doesn’t stain at all.
The root picture above is 3.5 weeks without changing water.
The pvc pipes had a very light yellow film, (algae like) after running my system with peroxide for a week. Really didn’t need to clean it. But, I broke it down and gave everything a good PM.
To clean 3/4” pvc. You have to be a little creative like using a wire fishing tape with a small cloth tided to it and drag it through the pipe. It comes off supper easy.

For me, cleaning was an option. I’ve also made it where I can take everything apart for PM with quick couplings and shutoff valves.
Hope that answers your questions. :+1:t2::v::sunglasses:


Also, this is where too much water flow will cause roots to grow into the pipes or the right amount of water flow will keep a gentle flow for the water to move through the system. :+1:t2::v::sunglasses:


a good trick to stop the roots and also as you said water circulation speed…thanks @HappyHydroGrower

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