March 18, 2008

A grey water solution for someone with no plumbing skills



For a few years now I’ve not had a washing machine. It’s called for the occasional trip to my folk’s house to use their machine, and to the dry-cleaners for silks and delicates. But on the whole it’s called for a great deal of hand-washing. Lots and lots of hand-washing in a small bucket or the bottom of the bath. It’s been a little slow and laborious at times, but on the whole not too bad, save for jeans and woolly jumpers. And all those buckets of grey water were easy to cart out and pour onto the garden.

However, as soon as the option of installing both a water and energy efficient machine became possible, I welcomed it with open arms. Yay! I cried, no more 18th century washerwoman for me.

Even though my new machine is super efficient it still uses a fair bit of water. The green solution was easy, even easier than carrying bucket loads of water out to the dry, struggling garden beds. It is a grey water solution perfect for someone with no plumbing skills. Perfect for me, and perfect for you, too, I suspect.

It goes a little like this…

Walk down to local hardware shop and purchase a grey water diverter hose, 10 metres in length (minimum).



Connect the grey water diverter hose to the washing machine's drainage hose (of the same diameter). The diverter hose has a flexible plastic end to it which stretches tightly over the end of the washing machine's hose so that it doesn’t leak or separate once the machine starts a-swirling. If you’re feeling extra handy, screw on a clasp to this join to make it extra strong.



Unravel the full length of the grey water diverter hose, extending it from the washing machine, over the laundry floor, out the back door and onto the garden.

Turn Machine on and watch the grey water drain out onto the garden… you can almost catch sight of the trees and plants smiling quietly with relief.



If you have a flat garden, as I do, then you wont have the benefit of gravity to help you drain the pipe completely once the washing cycle is finished. In this case, simply disconnect the grey water diverter hose from the washing machine's drainage hose and hold this end of the grey water diverter hose up high. This will drain out what water remains in the hose.

I think the only trick is to be aware of the basic dos and don’ts of grey water usage, and more importantly what washing powder or liquid you use as this will be going onto your garden. I’ve been using this one and it seems great thus far, but there are many more eco friendly ones on the market.

There’s so much information about grey water recycling and systems, just look to your favourite green info source and I’m sure you’ll find all the details you need.

(Originally published elsewhere.)

28 comments:

fog said...

thanks so much for sharing this with us! i like your pictures, too.

louise said...

Thank you, and I hope it helps you, too.

cheers, lj

Snippety Gibbet said...

I always feel so bad watching the water leave the washer and head down the drain. So wasteful. Thanks for sharing this information.

Saida said...

Neat idea - difficult for me however, as an apartment dweller. Wonder if my laundromat had a backyard would it work for them or be too much?

Jeanne said...

Quick note on drycleaners, you might want to try handwashing delicates yourself. Drycleaners and the chemicals they use are some of the biggest environmental polluters.

Ben Brophy said...

I live in a condo int he city. We have a back porch where we grow some plants. I'd been thinking baout ways to capture rain water, but after reading this I'm thinkign of setting up a grey water barrel. I think it would be much easier to manage (our washer is near the porch which helps). Thanks for the idea.

louise said...

Glad to hear you found my plumbing tip handy. I forgot to mention in my post that it's important to check if using grey water is legal in your neck of the woods, as it is not everywhere. Oh, and, Jeanne, I know dry-cleaning chemicals are harmful, but unfortunately a few of my silk tops are dry-clean only. I try to minimise how often I have to do this and I try to only buy clothes that I can wash myself so as to avoid dry-cleaners altogether.

Thanks for all your interest.

Cheers,
lj

Phoebe, Russ and Laura said...

Hi. I recently started reaading your blog and am finding it really interesting, and great fun to read. So thanks for blogging!
Will definitely look into this idea.

McIrish Annie said...

Thanks for this info. We have rainbarrels set up to capture rain during the spring and summer but this would be great to do when it doesn't rain. I have a water efficient washer. this looks easy to do!

shash said...

fantastic post louise, with your beautiful paintings.

the puRple gRasshoppeR said...

Hi there!! just found your blog recently ,i couldn't find and email adress to let you know about this so IM leaving a comment here, hope u don't mind, I don't know if you knew about earth hour? if not well you might be interested, is happening next week Saturday 29, from 8 pm to 9pm Turn off your lights!! go to www.earthhour.org to learn more about it hopefully you can post something about it.

many thanks.

reducing water usage said...

brilliant post!
the pictures are great too and the info is ever so helpful!

Cheers,
Becky

Steve said...

careful with this solution. There are a couple of problems with this method. 1. your washing machine water pump is not designed to push water this far and it will most likely die prematurely. 2. if this long hose ever gets kinked or has a blockage (and lint from the wash will eventually clog a hose of this length in a few years if nothing else has clogged it by then) your pump will burn out instantly. 3. if you use hot water in your wash cycle, you will burn your plants with the hot water. There is a better method that is only slightly more complicated.

http://www.oasisdesign.net/greywater/misinfo/index.htm#washerhose

Anonymous said...

Steve, I have used a set up similar to this for 20+ years, have yet to have a clogged hose, or burnt out washer pump. Just wish I could do something similar with bath/shower/dish water without major renovations.

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hose adapters said...

Nice idea! I never try to do that before, but this time I've got an idea. Thanks for sharing.

-seff-

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albina N muro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
albina N muro said...

Even though my new machine is super efficient it still uses a fair bit of water. The green solution was easy, even easier than carrying bucket loads of water out to the dry. plumbing tampa

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