How to Make a Grey Water Recycling System

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Collection barrel
PVC pipe and couplers
PVC primer and cement

Grey water recycling is the process of saving and reusing water that will otherwise flow out of your home after use. Grey water can be from any water drainage source except a toilet. There are many potential uses for grey water—the most popular use is irrigating or watering a yard or landscape. You can also use grey water to flush your toilets. Creating a grey water recycling system is a great DIY project, and this simple how-to guide will walk you through the basics.

Step 1 - Choose a Grey Water Source

First, you'll need to choose a source for your grey water. You can tie into a basement or bathroom sink, the outlet hose for your washing machine, or any other source of water in your home. As long as the water source has a drain, you can use it for your grey water recycling system.

Step 2 - Tie into the Drain Line

In order to tie into the drain line, you'll probably need to use a hack saw to cut the drain pipe. Then, you'll need to attach a T-coupler or other connection fitting so you can run the pipe from the drain line to your collection barrel. When tying into the drain line, remember to use PVC primer and PVC glue on all the connections so the fittings won't leak.

A blue three way connector pipe

Step 3 - Run Pipe

After you tie into the drain line of the grey water source, continue running pipe to the area where your collection barrel will be located. Try to run as much of the PVC pipe below ground as possible. You'll need to bury the pipe at least 12 to 18 inches below the surface of the soil to meet most local building codes.

Step 4 - Set Up a Collection Barrel

Set up your grey water collection barrel by sitting a 55 gallon barrel or drum on top of three concrete blocks. Place the concrete blocks side by side and simply set the barrel on top of them. You'll then need to cut a hole in the side of the barrel, so the PVC pipe from the grey water source can pass into the barrel and allow water to flow into the container.

A woman fills a watering can from a barrel.

Step 5 - Connect Grey Water Pipe to Barrel

Connect the PVC pipe running from the drainage source to the barrel. Simply run a piece of PVC pipe into the barrel and use PVC cement to seal the edges around the pipe. You can repeat this process with as many drainage sources as you want to capture. Just keep an eye on your usage so you don't end up with a backup or an overflow. Increase the complexity of your system in phases, so you always know you have enough barrel space and enough uses for your water.

Step 6 - Use the Grey Water

Once you've connected the PVC pipe from the source to the barrel, the waste water should run into the grey water collection barrel. You can then use it to water your lawn, wash your car, or do anything else for which you don't need sparkling clean water. You may also want to install a spigot on the front of the water barrel so you can attach a garden hose.

Health Warning

This water should not be used for anything related to human consumption or bathing. Despite not coming from the toilet, grey water still has trace levels of contaminants you wouldn't want on your skin, washing your dishes, or in your mouth.