I installed one for my in-laws. Used a tank in the crawlspace to hold the water draining from the bathtub and laundry. A small pump (Little Giant 5-MSP in this case) pumps the grey water back up to fill the toilet tank. Rather than get into float switches, etc., they opted for a switch on the wall to turn on the pump manually and fill the tank as required. It's been working for 3 years now, and they've been quite happy with it.
I'm putting in a composting toilet and want to recycle greywater for watering things, irrigation, etc.
So I'm trying to figure out what I would run it through before it hit the ground. I know I have to get some kind of cooling mechanism, in terms of a holding tank or a thingie it runs around in to cool off, so hot water from laundry etc won't burn the ground, etc.
I got a couple of books from Art Ludwig, Create an Oasis with Greywater, he has another called Branched Drain Greywater Systems. Best things I've ever read on design considerations and success rates on various types of systems. His thing is, the simpler, the better. Anyway, you can find his stuff on www.oasisdesign.net
Thanks, Shelby. I've been pondering this for over a year now and am just getting ready to actually do something. But there's so much info out there, it's hard to sort through what's good and what's not.
gobug, I'm getting ready to put in a composting toilet, so that part is taken care of. The big problem now - okay, better, the big problems are water used to wash dishes, laundry water and bath/shower water, specifically because of gunk, but also because they need to be cooled down, etc, before they hit the ground.
I like Gimpy's barrel idea and think it would be workable here. But I think I'll check out those books and see what they have to say.
My first interest when I found this group was composting toilets. I have seen pictures of the barrel idea used in third world countries. There's lots to like about this concept, especially in arid areas.
I was thinking about using a car radiator fitted as a heat exchanger to capture the heat. I know you could do it with shower and laundry water. I think kitchen water is too loaded with organisms to run through small diameter tubes. The gunk would grow them closed.
Please describe your plans in greater detail. Have you settled on the toilet design? Will this set outside? I was considering a two bin system. Its so simple, it's hard to see how there could be problems. Black water actually helps compost in some toilet designs. If you are frugal with kitchen water use, you may not need a barrel.
gobug, I haven't settled on a composting toilet yet.
Although I will be deciding here in the next few days.
I'm wavering wildly between building my own and purchasing one. My logic in considering purchasing one is fairly simple: I suspect the powers that be will accept a manufactured composting toilet much more easily than one I put together myself.
I'm trying to avoid the authorities --- however, building codes are changing rapidly around here. And I've been wandering about trying to gather info on people who've actually installed both composting toilets and grey water systems here. In essence, what I've found is some commercial operations have used the composting toilets with knowledge of the state and, although the state isn't crazy about grey water, if you tangle with them enough, they okay it.
It's really hard to decide but I need to decide quickly, because the pipe running out back thing will be getting pretty disgusting pretty quick AND I want to get things set up beneath the radar of any authority in such a way that they could reasonably say *oh, well, it's not perfect but it'll do*.
I was going to go with septic - had a good price and someone with great recommendations to do it - but something tells me ten years down the line, that will be wasted money.
When I make my final decision on the composting toilet, I'll post it here, with my reasons for that choice.
It's hard to decide! I have seriously been worrying over this for at least a year and one half!
Another thing to possibly consider is how to explain very low water bills if you have to sell the place in future--many buyers now ask to see previous bills in order to get a guesstimate on their bills.
Don't know if those sorts of things have made it into mandatory disclosures yet, but while you know your low water use is due to a greywater system, someone buying your house may assume that you've refitted everything with low-flow this, low flow that. Granted, everyone's water use is somewhat different, but it is something to think about. And, if your system is illegal in your area, you will definitely not want to make it a permanent fixture. You might want to just develop the habit of flushing the toilet with a bucket of dirty dishwater (from washing dishes in a dishpan instead of the sink), for example. Keep an empty bucket in the shower or bath to collect the cold water until it heats up enough to bathe in, etc.
Dave, the area I live in is very hilly, and the pipe out back runs straight into a steep hollow. All my neighbors live uphill from me. I do have a kind of septic system, however, and what comes out of the pipe goes into it ... somewhere.
I completely understand why you're asking, though, and it's one of the reasons I'm trying to figure out the best solution to all this. I'm not a big fan of polluting the groundwater. We have enough problems around here from chicken farms.
I've pretty well decided on a composting toilet, and have found some gadgets to attach to the drains which I can use to collect disgusting gunk and clean out fairly easily.
I suspect in the next few years they'll be bringing sewer systems in here. Which is fine. But it's yet another reason I am simply unwilling to plunk down a couple thousand on septic.
I added on to my home fall of 99 (just doing finish carpentry this week so almost done) when I moved the laundry to the main level I added a valve to divert the water from the washer and water softener to a tileline (mostly due to a "sick" septic system). The tileline was mostly installed to carry the rainwater down to a grove of trees, water perculates at the root level. It goes 100' from the house then I have 300' of perferated line and the end above ground.
I know about the piping arrangement, and when I leave or sell I will switch the valves, I have learned not to say a word about this type of thing(especially with a neighbor who works for the local health dept inspecting new septic systems).
When I installed a new septic system per local code I needed to install 5 drainfield lines, after 2.5 years the 2nd line down the hill (which only gets water when the top one is saturated) has yet to get water to it, and I have 3 lines after it.
Could be a reflection of the "extreme" requirements that this county now imposes.
I am very happy with what I did. Keeping the salt water out of your septic system will also help greatly.
A forum community dedicated to living sustainably and self sufficiently. Come join the discussion about livestock, farming, gardening, DIY projects, hobbies, recipes, styles, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!