HOW TO MAKE A LAUNDRY WATER RECYCLER (GRAY WATER SYSTEM)

This device is intended to work with older top-loading washing machines, where it saves about 20 gallons per load on average. Newer front loaders already use much less water, and, according to thisĀ article, they don’t have a distinct rinse cycle anyway. Clearly, front-loading washing machines use less water than even a top-loader with the LWR, and the use less energy too. However, in comparing the two, you also need to factor in the energy it takes to manufacture a new washing machine. If you keep your top-loader for a while, then that manufacturing energy is not consumed yet. Anyway, enough green theory, onto the LWR!

The image below shows the LWR. At the bottom of the image is the top of our washing machine. Just above the left side of the machine is the washer outlet hose, which splits into two branches, each with its own ball valve. In this photo, the left ball valve is open, so the water leaving the washing machine will be pumped into the drain pipe at the top of the photo. The valve on the right leads to the storage tank, a 32 gallon plastic trash can, which is suspended from the ceiling on a hanging platform. An outlet at the bottom of the tank has a hose connected to it and this is used to introduce water into the washing machine at the beginning of a washing cycle.

Step 1: Is This Project for You?

In order to build the LWR you need to have room directly (or nearly) above your washing machine for the tank. You also need a way to secure the tank safely, because when full it will weigh more than 250 pounds. My washing machine is in the basement, so it was easy to hang a platform from hooks screwed into the ceiling joists. If you are setting this up inside your house, then you must be able to fasten the tank platform to something that can bear the weight, such as your ceiling joists. It will be more tricky, because the joists won’t be visible. Make sure you know what you are doing in regards to this issue, or get help. Alternatively, you could build a platform from the floor up, but that would take up more space, cost more, and take more time to build.

Step 2: Materials List and Tools

Note: The sizes of the pipes and fittings that are stated here are what I used. You may end up with different sizes depending on what you find at your hardware store. As long as you are able to connect everything together and not have any leaks, you are fine.

Tank and Plumbing

    • 1 32 Gallon Plastic Trash Can
    • 2 3/4″ PVC Ball Valves
    • 5 1-1/2″ hose clamps
    • 1″ ID washing machine hose (length will vary depending on your setup)
    • 1 washing machine hose hook end
    • 32″ of 11/4″ corrugated sump pump hose
    • 3/4″ diameter PVC pipe (around 3 ft. of length)
    • 1 3/4″ diameter PVC 45 degree turn (or a “T”)
    • 2 PVC threaded adapter – 1″ male thread to 1-1/4″female thread
    • 2 PVC adapter, 1″ male thread to 1-1/4″ diameter
    • 1 Threaded hook with a nut (for holding up the end of the tank outlet hose)

Hanging Platform

  • 4 lengths chain (rated 80-100 lb), length depends on your particular hanging situations
  • 1 length of the same chain 24″ long
  • 4 wood screw threaded hooks (rated 80-100 lb)

*4 machine screw hooks with nuts (rated 80-100 lb)

    • 4 1-1/4″ ID rubber washers (or make your own from used bicycle inner tubes)
    • 2 1-1/2″ metal pipe thread nuts
    • 1 12″ x 20-3/4″ plywood, reinforced with metal, at least at the corners

Water level sign

    • Top from a qt. yogurt container
    • popsicle stick
    • 1 machine screw
    • small piece of velcro (both male and female)

Load Size Measuring Tool

    • 1 piece of PVC pipe, 3/4″ or 1″, cut wide enough to sit in the top of your washer basin
    • 1 threaded rod (#6 or #8 thread)
    • 1 lock nut for each of the load sizes your washer has (mine has 4)
    • 2 nuts and 2 washers to fasten the threaded rod to the pipe

Ball Valve Wrench

    • 1 piece of 2″ diam ABS pipe 8-10″ long

Tools

    • Electric Drill
    • 1-5/8″ hole saw
    • Dremel Tool
    • Utility Knife
    • Hack Saw
    • Teflon Tape
    • 2 pipe wrenches
    • PC-7 Multipurpose Waterproof Epoxy
    • PVC Cement
    • Twist Ties
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