Does your hydroponics air pump prevent you from having a good night’s sleep? I’ve been there! I have considered turning it off, but that is not an option as it will reduce the oxygen supply potentially leading to root rot. Through the years, I’ve discovered the secrets to making the pump quieter again!
Hydroponic air pumps can get very loud because of 1) their big size 2) contact with fixture 3) low position 4) blocked airstones; 5) a small-diameter hose and 6) diaphragm defects. These can be solved by having a soft platform, putting it above water level, cleaning, or replacing the air pump.
If you are someone who is irritated with the loud noise your air pump is producing, this article will enlighten and help you. Here, we have compiled 6 different causes. But we will not leave you hanging in there, we also got easy-to-do remedies.
Hydroponic air pumps produce noise because of a damaged diaphragm, surface vibrations, and bubble noises due to the air stones or the hose size.
Before we proceed, let us have a quick recall of why air pumps are needed and advised in hydroponics.
Air pumps increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the hydroponic nutrient solution, essentially to maintain healthy roots. With abundant oxygen in the nutrient water, the plant can mobilize nutrients and ultimately use them for growth.
Are they naturally noisy? You may ask. The answer is, yes! But there are valid reasons for that and in this article, you will be seeing various remedies for each cause! Let us start.
The bigger the hydroponic air pumps, the louder it is.
To give you an illustration here, a handheld speaker will produce lesser vibrations, compared to a whole sound system, right? The same goes with air pumps.
Because bigger air pumps have bigger internal parts i.e. diaphragm (which is where the vibrations are coming from), they would produce louder noise.
If this is your concern, the best remedy is to replace your pump with a smaller one. If you have a nutrient film technique (NFT) or deep water culture (DWC) systems, a regular-sized air pump would be sufficient.
When in contact with hard materials such as metal, the air pump vibrations will turn into noise.
To lessen the noise, you can wrap the air pump in a few shirts and put it in a shoebox. By wrapping it, you lessen the vibration going to noisy surfaces such as a wooden table, metal platforms, or in the hydroponic system reservoir.
Another option here is to place the pump over a soft surface such as cushions, or a thick folded towel.
If you want to invest in another air pump accessory, buying rubber leg caps from hydroponic or aquarium shops is also a good option. For bigger air pumps, rubber legs like this are available on Amazon. These caps would absorb the vibration on all 4 legs.
Another remedy for this is to hang the air pump, where it will not make contact with any fixture. Doing this will also be beneficial for the next reason.
If the hydroponic air pump is placed lower than the water surface, it will produce louder noise because the air pressure is struggling to go out.
Have you ever tried blowing a balloon with your head tilted upwards? If that is something you have done in the past, I know it is difficult. But if you have not yet done that, well—don’t. The reason why it is difficult is that you’ll need to exert more force just for the air to come out.
The same thing happens when your air pump is positioned below water level. It will require more force to let the air out. With that, the diaphragm would be noisier.
Thus, the remedy here is to position the water pump above water level. By doing this, you take advantage of gravity and the force needed to push the air out would be lesser, thereby producing less noise.
Clogging in air stones leads to airflow restriction—thereby forcing the hydroponic air pump to push more air, resulting in noise.
To solve this, you need to check your airstones and the other air pump accessories (e.g. hose and check valve) if there’s something clogging them. Some of the possible clogs are dirt, plant debris, and fibers from a hydroponic growing mediums like coco peat.
You can use a small wire brush to clean the hose and valves. But, you can also blow it to pressure the clogged entity out of the equipment. If that would not suffice, running water could do the work!
For the air stone, you could soak it in diluted bleach for 24 hours (or more if they are clogged badly!). If you are using bleach, the ratio must be 1 part bleach to 3 parts water.
For hydrogen peroxide, you can dissolve 2-3 teaspoons per gallon and soak the air stones overnight. Lastly, rinse them well with clean water before putting it back in your system. Another alternative is vinegar since acids work well in cleaning air stones. You can follow the same procedure here for hydrogen peroxide.
Small hoses facilitate higher air pressure, thus louder sound when it comes out to the hydroponic system.
This principle is common in pipes. Science established that a reduction in pipe diameter will result in higher velocity, and also an increase in pressure. In line with this, we have discussed a while back that higher air pressure in hydroponic air pumps results in more noise.
As a remedy, you may opt to use bigger hose diameters compatible with your air pump. If there is none, you can just cut the hose. This will lessen the traveling time for the air to go to the water surface and will also decrease the pressure.
Air pumps can get very noisy in case their diaphragm is worn out.
If the above-mentioned reasons are not observed in your hydroponic air pumps, then most probably, the problem is already internal. Your last resort might be replacing the pump!
To help you decide, here are some quiet pumps available on Amazon.
This option has a compact design and 4 rubber stabilizer feet that help it to be silent. It can support 10 gallons of water.
An interesting fact about this air pump is that a thin piezoelectric ceramic plate drives it, which means no motor, unlike the traditional ones! It can be hung thus no surface vibrations to worry about! This option can handle 1-15 gallons of hydroponic water.
Tetra can handle 10 gallons of water in a hydroponic reservoir. It has a dome shape with legs built-in with rubber to absorb the vibrations. Its thick walls also lessen the noise it produces.
The fact that this air pump is made of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) thickening engineering plastic makes it a super silent option. This one would be better for bigger hydroponic systems as it can support 20-100 gallons of water and it has 2 outlets.
Thirty-minute intervals of on and off are healthy enough for plants under most of the hydroponic systems except for DWC, which needs aeration 24/7.
Most pumps suggested for nutrient film technique, aeroponics, drip system, and ebb and flow hydroponic systems come with a timer. The timer’s job is to cycle the water every interval time you set.
So for example, you set it for a 30-minute interval, the pump is on for 30 minutes straight and off for the next 30 minutes. Thus, less power is consumed.
If you are worried about the 24/7 air pump operation for deep water culture, just make sure that your plant roots are not fully submerged in water. Having an air space between the roots and nutrient solution will give your plant roots room to breathe and prevent diseases such as root rot.