Thursday, May 28, 2009

How to replace an Aerogarden Pump

As I mentioned, my goal is to plant my three new seed packs, but I was slowed down because the pump went bad on my original Aerogarden unit.

I went to the official Aerogarden site and ordered an AeroGarden Replacement Pump (go to the Accessories section of the AeroGarden site and then click through the pages until you see "Replacement Pump".

[2014 Update: note that there are two models of replacement pump, depending on the model of Aerogarden you get. This is the old replacement pump (model 100623) that fits on the original Aerogarden with 7 pods (now known as "Aerogarden Classic 7"):

And this is the replacement pump for the Aerogarden ULTRA (model 200623). Note that they've replaced the metal contacts which tended to get corroded with a traditional plug.

If you have other models of Aerogarden (specifically the 3-pod and 6-pod Aerogardens), those use an "air pump" method that pumps oxygen through airstones; from my experience not as good a method as the pumps.]

Because I'm a sucker for anything Aerogarden, I also bought an Herb 'n Serve (it's a cool dressing and marinade maker where you throw in fresh herbs and oil/vinegar, and it does all the chopping and mixing for you, as well as a bottle), herb ice cube trays (where you can freeze chopped herbs in convenience 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon servings), and their "Master Chef Herb Guide", a beautiful cookbook chock full of some great-looking recipes--perfect for people like me, I mean, how much pesto can one man eat? The package came in the mail today.

So, the first step was pry open the cover underneath the pump. The plastic is wedged in there pretty good, so you need to use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the three tabs open. Don't worry about using too much force; the plastic is very thick,
The next step is to remove the old pump. Just pull up on the unit, and it'll pop out, then unthread the wire from the plastic. You'll see that the end of the cord is attached to the Aerogarden with a screw. Also, you'll see that it connects via a thick plastic tube, which was a little bit gunky. You can remove the tube using needle-nose pliers and clean it with warm, soapy water.

The next step was to take the new pump, make sure it was set to the "2 o'clock position", and then screw it in the same place the old was used to be. Warning: the plastic under this screw is very, very, very fragile. I made the mistake of putting just a tiny bit more pressure than I should have, and it shattered the top of the screw hole. Luckily, there seemed to still be enough to keep it in place, so it loos like it's still okay to use. But it's a shame that something I paid $150 for could easily be compromised by such a simple thing.

There's a filter which is a thin spongy square that separates the pump unit from getting too much of the gunk. For some reason, when you buy the replacement pump, Aerogarden doesn't include a new plastic tube nor filters, so you're stuck cleaning them (as much as I spend money there, I'm not going to spend $7.95 on a cheap piece of sponge). A little warm soapy water seemed to do the trick for this too.

After snapping the plastic cover back in place, it looked like this:

I tried plugging it in, and heard the nice rumbling sound of the motor, which told me the unit was as good as new, ready to go.

To my dismay, when I checked my other Aerogarden unit, the motor was not working either! Had I known that I would have bought two pumps. But in desperation, I tried cleaning the gunk that had formed over the metal contacts using a Brillo pad:

Happily, when I tested it, it seemed to start pumping okay again. But I can already tell this will be the next to go. Let's hope that I can get at least one garden out of it.

That said, stay tuned, as I will be planting the new gardens tomorrow!


Unknown said...

Hi - Thanks so much for these directions. I read them first and saw what you said about the plastic breaking around the screw. I was really careful but it broke anyway when I was *removing* it! I had to end up using a longer screw to get it to hold. So be careful everyone - thanks again.

Unknown said...

Thanks I just replaced my pump and your caution about the screw helped. I do wonder, though, whether the pump might not be the Achilles heal of the system, especially since although my unit is several years old (long story), we've only used it for one season and there was little evidence of gunk, root clog, etc. on the original pump. Sure is a lot quieter now too!

Unknown said...

hey thx dude but my screw thing broke and my filter work great

Unknown said...

the pump is super easy to replace...i'm relieved that it isn't a huge pain that ends in a person having to purchase a whole new aerogarden!! thanks for the tip.:}

JohnHNye said...

Thanks for the detailed directions and pics. I threw away my old pump without looking how it goes back in. The old pump left a white connector on the tube, so the new pump would not fit until I removed it and then it fit perfectly.

Unknown said...

To get rid of gunk and salt build-up, soak (whatever) in vinegar, water and soap then clean. Much better than using bleach. Also, if you regularly mistakenly allow your Aerogarden run out of water, your pump will burn out.

For Whitefly, plant Nasturtiums or Calendula in the same Aerogarden, neem oil is also good to spray onto plants and non-toxic. Available at your garden store, I'm sure.