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Old 03-06-2012, 09:23 AM   #1
1991Syclone
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Default Recycling washing machine water

My wife and I just purchased a "long term" house. I say long term because she enjoys moving every two years which drives me insane. Apparently she says she could say her for the next ten. I plan on making that happen. Since the city hasn't run sewer lines to the old neighborhood everybody is on a septic system.

The washing machine is located in the garage and dumps into the drain system as normal, but I'd rather not pump all that water into the septic tank if I can avoid it.

Has anybody set up a rail barrel or similar system to recycle used washing machine water? Any pictures?
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

My concern would be with the detergent contamination. You couldn't use the water for your yard or plants, so I don't know what the benefit would be.

I am intrigued though, so I'll stay tuned and maybe learn something.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

washing machine water is semi-clean/semi-dirty
you could do a shallow secondary septic system to watter the flower beds and the grass. you could also collect in a underground barrel and then use a small pump to fee a drip irrigation system

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Old 03-06-2012, 09:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

I seen a segment on Ask This Old House where they did this exact thing. They had to switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent and used the water in a sprinkler system to water the landscaping.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:30 AM   #5
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

Since detergents in the US do not use phosphates as they did long ago, I know several folks that use the rain barrel approach to draining the washer.

But---What I have found is that the newer front load washers use less water, so you need to gauge what the ROV is on collection on those units.

The rinse cycle is what I would prefer to use if watering plants or gardens as you need to confirm that any soap or dirt residue (think grease, oil, etc.) may harm plants if using as a food source, and then the storage of the water itself and using a spigot to dispence it for plant watering may become cumbersome.

If you get a lot of rain in your area, a rain barrel used off a downspout can be equally beneficial and a lot more clean and potable.

I guess it all depends upon how you want to use the water.
Grey water is far more useful than black (aka brown) water of course, but it is, still, dirty water.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

When I bought my house (built in 1948) I noticed the washer and the kitchen sink were plumbed into their own waste pipe. I had to dig up part of my septic system to get it pumped out and noticed that extra pipe goes right past the tank into another part of the yard. Someone had dug a large hole, filled it with some (lots of) stone as a drain field for the grey water...it just absorbs into the dirt. It's been 15 years and no problems yet.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

When we were on septic, I ran the washer line out to the garden. Worked real well.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

I have been researching and they do recommend that you switch to an eco-friendly detergent that doesn't have as much salt and chemicals which will ruin plants. The yard is basically all Florida native plants that have done very well on their own (some of them have done too well and overgrown the place).

I already have a rain barrel that captures run off from the roof. I don't really have a plan for the washing machine water quite yet, but think it's a waste to just plumb it out to the side yard.

The current septic tank is located in the front yard and all the grass is pretty much dead there. I was thinking of finding a 55 gallon food grade barrel and burying it half way in the ground. Stick a sump pump inside of it and run a hose to the front yard and use that for watering some new grass.

The biggest pain is going to be the routing of the plumbing since I will have to snake it across some walls to get it to the exterior of the house. The outlet point would be right behind the air conditioning compressor as well.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

As mentioned above, get a new front load washer. It's incredible how little water those things use. One of the best purchases I have made by far. It really matters for me too because I am on septic and also on a well, so water saved is money saved.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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Originally Posted by 1991Syclone View Post
The current septic tank is located in the front yard and all the grass is pretty much dead there. I was thinking of finding a 55 gallon food grade barrel and burying it half way in the ground. Stick a sump pump inside of it and run a hose to the front yard and use that for watering some new grass.
Yep.
Those that I know that have them use the white plastic moulded 55 gal drums with a spigot drilled in and inserted near the botton so they can fit a 1 gal or 3 gal pail underneth it.

If using an older style washer, those dispensed into the drain tub that was usually at the same hgt as the top of the washer thus just cut the barrel down to the hgt you need.

You can even put the barrel up on those industrial barrel stands if you need hgt for irrigation or bury if you want depth and add sump as mention.

Keeping it from molding up or foulding the water and a need for cleaing out is the only issue I see.

Other than that, yep, plumb away.

Reminds me of the old water towers on top of factories growing up and those you see along traing tracks to service the old locomotives.

Petticoat Junction flashback. LOL.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:52 AM   #11
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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Originally Posted by 240sxguy View Post
As mentioned above, get a new front load washer. It's incredible how little water those things use. One of the best purchases I have made by far. It really matters for me too because I am on septic and also on a well, so water saved is money saved.
If it was in the budget, I would. Just finished putting a new roof on the house, still need to get insurance, etc. A new washing machine is not in the budget. Besides, if any appliance is going to be purchased, the wife says it has to be a dishwasher.
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:57 AM   #12
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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Originally Posted by 1991Syclone View Post
If it was in the budget, I would. Just finished putting a new roof on the house, still need to get insurance, etc. A new washing machine is not in the budget. Besides, if any appliance is going to be purchased, the wife says it has to be a dishwasher.
With your wife insisting on moving every two years; maybe you would come out cheaper in the long run with a newer, more husband friendly model...
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:02 AM   #13
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

I have read when we were having a drought last year that you can't keep grey water, i.e used bathwater, washing machine water for more than a couple of days before it starts to get nasty so it should really be used immeadiately if you want to use it to water the garden. One way of doing it though is to have a proper greywater treatment system that captures water from the bath, basins etc, treats it and then uses it to flush your toilet so you're not using expensive new treated water to flush.

That said, we got a new A++ rated washer just after christmas this year and its uses a fairly miniscule amount of water.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:25 AM   #14
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

It's called a grey water system - you can probably find a lot of information if you search on those words. Some places allow it, others don't.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:42 AM   #15
1991Syclone
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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It's called a grey water system - you can probably find a lot of information if you search on those words. Some places allow it, others don't.
Correct. Most well designed grey water systems are for more than just the washing machine. Typically you'd have 2 plumbing systems in a new home (one for grey and one for black) to be really environmentally friendly along with a designated cistern for the water, then have that plumbed for outdoor irrigation.

I was mainly wondering if anybody here had done something similar. I'll have to take some pictures, but the whole plumbing set up is in one corner of the garage. Starting from left to right it's laundry sink, water heater in the corner, then washing machine, then dryer. The washing machine shares a common wall with the master bathroom.

I might forgo the laundry sink and install the rain barrel there with the overflow plumbed in to the drain and hook a small pump to the outlet of the barrel to pressurize it enough to run a sprinkler.
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:55 AM   #16
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

When we lived in an old farmhouse w/ septic, our washer drained into the utility sink... which, in turn, drained into the ditch along the road. If we wanted to use the water for something, we plugged the sink.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:47 AM   #17
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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Originally Posted by cowboy73 View Post
I seen a segment on Ask This Old House where they did this exact thing. They had to switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent and used the water in a sprinkler system to water the landscaping.
This was a recent episode, and in California.

Looked rather easy to do!
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:13 PM   #18
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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Originally Posted by 1991Syclone View Post
The washing machine is located in the garage and dumps into the drain system as normal, but I'd rather not pump all that water into the septic tank if I can avoid it.
I don't really understand why you want to recycle such a small amount of water.

If I were you, I would look into drilling a shallow well in my yard and putting a pump on it. Then you can pump the groundwater up and water your lawn, or whatever. Considering where you are, I would expect you to hit water in 10-15 feet.

The ground is pretty much just sand, so it should soak right back in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGq0ETzZP0E
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:14 PM   #19
1991Syclone
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

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I don't really understand why you want to recycle such a small amount of water.

If I were you, I would look into drilling a shallow well in my yard and putting a pump on it. Then you can pump the groundwater up and water your lawn, or whatever. Considering where you are, I would expect you to hit water in 10-15 feet.

The ground is pretty much just sand, so it should soak right back in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGq0ETzZP0E
What do you consider a small amount of water? From what I've been reading a top load washer will use between 30-50 gallons of water per load. Doing at least 2 loads on the weekend would be 100 gallons on the high end.

I have no desire to drill a well when I have everything I need to reclaim this water. My main goal is to keep the water out of the septic tank.

Here's the TOH episode: http://video.pbs.org/video/2190819128/

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Old 03-06-2012, 01:19 PM   #20
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Default Re: Recycling washing machine water

Actually....with a gray water system...the real savings is from the shower and bathtub...
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