Saturday, 22 August 2009
Apartment Grey Water: A (Frustrating) Work in Progress #2
The idea is pretty simple. Every time you flush your toilet, the tank refills with fresh water from a tap connected to the wall. Rather than using fresh water to refill the tank, a bin filled with greywater would be the source. Nothing high tech. After all, a tap is basically water spraying out of your wall--and the tap just temporarily stops the stream of water (that's why you have to turn your water off before doing any plumbing, like changing a tap). So the bin full of water connected to the infeed hose is basically the same concept. If we were to disconnect the hose from the bin, water would just stream out the bin.
There is a window above my toilet overlooking the area where the washing machine sits. I figured that window sill would be a great place to install the bin full of grey water. I got a 60 litre bin, whose dimensions fit the window, but it needed some trimming. The handles had to go.
Much to my frustration, so did some of the bulk of the circumference. My friend, Noa, who sews, had given me a piece of tailor's chalk, which turned out to be a life saver for marking the pieces for cutting.
The main thing was installing the threaded plastic piping bit which would attach to the intake valve.
After measuring the circumference, drilling loads of little holes, and then cutting out the waste, the tap was ready to be installed. I also grabbed a bit to go on the inside of the bin, even though the dude at the garden centre said i didn't need it. I was expecting to have to use teflon and to break out the silicone, but it really wasn't necessary.
The tap went on pretty well, though the wrench did help to tighten it up a bit. Here is a shot of the inside of the bin. The nasty sediment i left in there as i figured i would just make a mess during the assembly. I figured wrong, thankfully, but sorry about the nasty shot! That round thing that looks like tape is the teflon, by the way...
I know there are probably not enough photos about how this bin is going to be situated, but i think it will become clear as we progress. Below is a photo of the white intake tube--you probably recognise it from your own toilet--attached to black tap connected to the bin.
Again, it's a simple idea which substitutes the bin for the wall. Anyway, i knew that i would probably have to build a little base for the bin, as the windowsill was quite narrow and not the most even surface upon which to balance 60 litres of somewhat nasty water above people who have their trousers round their ankles. But i just wanted to see if it would work. So i attached the infeed tube to the toilet tank and to my bin, which was balanced on the sill. i filled it a bit, and low and behold, the water trickled into the tank and when it was enough water, the ball and valve cut the flow of water from the bin. The problem was that this took ages. I needed more water pressure, ie, more water. Well, the bin had balanced ok thus far, so why not fill it some more? I did, and all seemed to be well, until i decided i wanted to have a peak inside the bin to watch what was happening. Now, of course, i am kicking myself for this, because:
1. Of course the bloody idea worked! Why test it out before everything is set up?!
2. Why test it out again?!
3. Why the hell would you look inside the bin?! You know bloody well what's going on inside there--you don't have to see it!
But i wanted to.
And here's what happened just as i was in the throes of self congratulations.
Well, that was the most appropriate time for it to happen, i suppose. So it's back to the drawing board...