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Rain Barrel Project

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Step 7: Setting up the catching system

Let me explain what I was trying (still in the works) to accomplish with this setup.
I didn't like the fact that all the other barrel setups it went straight into one barrel. Thus you are always dependent on having that one barrel there and everyone states they need cleaning eventually that really isn't cool to have your most important factor out of the picture.
The other reason I've done it this way is to filter out the water partly before it enters the storage (aka barrels) I haven't come up with a way to do this yet so if another creative person comes up with something I'll add it here!

I used a plastic Tidy cat litter container so any plastic one will do for this. Use the male and female 2" adapter for this part. Cut a hole in the center of the container to screw in the male adapter from the inside. Make sure to put pipe tape on the threads close to the middle of the fitting and some marine caulk. On the female adapter put marine caulk on the inner threads and screw the male and female adapter together. Put a bead of marine caulk on the inside of the container and on the underside to create the seal.
On the inside of the container put the 3" drain on top of the male fitting. (Note: i had to cut the inner part of the drain some to get it to fit over the 2" smooth male fitting.
In the cover of the litter box cut 4 holes to let the water flow in. Cut a piece of window screen to wrap around the cover so when you put the cover back on it seals and secures the window screen on. I also put a bead of caulk around the top edge to secure it more.

This setup as you can see from the 2nd picture will then connect to the 3 way or T 2" fitting to go to the barrels.

Now for the part that I'm still not sure what way to go. I want to be able to filter the water before it enters the barrels. I want to put a pool filter in but I'm not sure if it will drain through the filter with out pressure. I'm trying to do this with out power at the moment to let gravity do its work. Any ideas will be accepted for this part.

Either way I'd recommend an initial catchment system to get most of the junk out before it goes in the barrels. If you are doing a simple 1 barrel system you could skip this step but I'd still recommend to do this so you have less cleaning to do later.
 
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Stavros!1 year ago
If you just want to filter out debris, and not filter the water to improve the quality, try looking up "sand filters." I would suggest putting a support under your tidy cat bucket, fill the bottom with medium size rocks, and over the top of that small rocks. I think you'll need a screen over the drain in the bottom. You'll have to skip the sand part to keep the flow up, but since you're not trying to purify the water, just clean the debris, you don't need the sand part.
j1ceasar1 year ago
for a simple pre filter suggest you looki at a pet store at the fish filter mediums - there are many pre filter pads - some with built in holders -s ome just pads as well as carbon activated pads .
Stan Kuczynski
Hi guy's Just a quick question, I would like to set up my rain barrel system so i can run my filtered water into my washing machine. not sure how the metering system in a washer works. Do you think gravity would work ok or do you think I would need a small sump pump to give it enough pressure to simulate street pressure.40-60 psi.thanks for any ideas other wise love the ideas you all have come up with.
oddie1212 (author)  stantheman19553 years ago
Depending on the washer, you'll probably need to have some sort of pump or pressurized system. Most of the new low flow front load washers will error out with not enough flow.
You could do this with a small pump as you suggested. If you're looking for a different alternative you could go with a pressure tank and hand pump for an alternative to get the pressure but not use energy.
Not sure how else you could accomplish this at the moment, but if any one else has ideas feel free to chime in.

Good luck on your project!
Hi Oddie, thank you for your reply and your knowledge, as i stated, I was not knowledgeable about the timing valves and metering system in a washer but now i am just a little more "edge-a-macated" about such things, Thank you!

I have a small pancake compresses that does the brunt of the work for general things like tires, dust abatement brads and staples. It would be nothing to hook up an aux line to a pressure tank and keep it topped off...thats a great idea thanks.
oddie1212 (author)  stantheman19553 years ago
No problem Stan! I will let you know I'm not versed in everything myself, but I like to tinker or have learned by mistakes. There are plenty of people on the forums who are exceptionally knowledgeable in all these areas that you are seeking. Note: To find the forums, click the forums button at the top right of instructables webpage. The pressure tank I'm actually referring to is like this one http://www.homedepot.com/Plumbing-Pumps-Well-Pumps-Systems-Pressure-Tanks/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbqld/R-100188089/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

As you stated, however, if you can get an entire sealed system (meaning you can pressurize your water holding tank and all the lines to your washing machine) you could use your pancake compressor to pressurize your holding tank to 60 PSI to get water pressure. Never acutally thought about that! I have seen a few others do this.

The only issue would be adding water back into your holding tank. You would have to depressurize your system to allow water in.
Hi oddie thank you for the additional info thats great. What gave me the idea was at a fire station I was stationed at before I retired we were on well water. The ground pump pressurized the main storage tank and it had a compressor aux to adjust tap pressure. If the tank filled up to much with liquid it lost head pressure to the taps also same happened if it lost to much water. if we washed a lot of trucks we had to manually adjust the water level and head pressure to get the station back to normal. if i use a sump pump the tank pressure should be low enough that i will not have to de- pressurize...... the cool trick will be figuring a way to read pre-determined low water level, execute auto fill to pre- determind full level then have the compressor auto pressurize to maintain 40-60 psi. when I am not using the washer i can just shut the whole thing down till i need it.
bubbmx3 years ago
Good afternoon,
Really cool project. I have been racking my brain for a filter product.....why don't you try a natural sponge (for car washing,etc); buy something big and cut to fit snuggly inside the kitty bin.
Maybe that will let the water through, and with all those thousands of internal holes; the dirt will get stuck.

Good luck
oddie1212 (author)  bubbmx3 years ago
Thank you. :-) let me toss some things back, I'm always up for ideas!

I've tossed around a few things before posting this but i'm currently gutting my house and redoing it so I haven't had time to entertain making this better.

The only problem i see with some type of material like a sponge or something like that is over time it starts to grow stuff from being in the sun, then your barrels get dirty bacteria etc, and your flow rate decreases.
Then my design would have to change to a pre barrel that could be easily cleaned that then goes to your storage.
The other problem is flow rate, if you have a good downpour can you filter that fast or do you simply say oh well I lost some (I was going for the challenge of "I want it all").

But here were some of the things I tossed around let me know if they spawn any ideas
Natural type filter with plants, sand, rocks.
A washable furnace filter (again possible the same problem as above)
A pre trap that some how self cleans then goes to another type of filter
Pressure type of filter system (but then would require solar power or something else to give it pressure)


Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks again!

i HAVE SEVERAL IDEAS AND DESIGNS FOR A PRE-FILTER. As well, going a step further, to filter it and neutralizing any possible chemicals e.g. from pollutants in the air etc. or if you have a supplemental system coming from a spring, creek etc. I'm in the process of moving to a piece of land and living as green as possible/practical and would like to have some folk to collaborate with or advise, feedback, input etc. email: larry.burke@gmail.com
oddie1212 (author)  basementsong5 years ago
Larry: That'd be great! I'll be emailing you in a bit :) But if you'd like you can also share your ideas here so we can all modify a whole instructable on green living.
Super! I'll get my drawings together, throw 'em out there and see what you folks think. Everything looks good on paper, but when you begin the process, out in the field, many unseen probs just pop-up. It would be great to have some constructive criticism, as well as advice & other ideas. I would like to eliminate as many of those pitfalls as possible and foreseen, before I start on the construction. Part of the parameter here, for me, is that I'm operating on a 'shoestring' budget, I'm not a young man anymore either. So most of the ideas I present will be using materials I have on hand, or can get by scrounging etc. As well, I am trying to make it as easy as possible on my body. I'd like to enjoy the fruits of my labor when I'm done, and not from a hospital bed. So these pose a different set of challenges for me. However, I had the same problems facing me when I finally conceded that I cannot backpack with 80 lbs. on my back anymore. But in this case, I took advantage of the newer lightweight materials and technology. I've cut it down to 40 lbs. which I can live out of for 3 days without any other supplementation. But with trapping, hunting & foraging etc. it potentially can be indefinite if necessary. This really sounds like a worthwhile project. Thanks for the reply 'oddie', I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Larry
oddie1212 (author)  basementsong5 years ago
No problem Larry, even though I'm a younger guy I'm still on a shoestring budget and usually scrounging for parts or just to make it easier on the pocket book either way as I did with this project.
After reading some of the feedback, seems like there's a lot of wisdom and knowledge for the offing. So here's a request: I am designing a waterless/self-composting toilet. The 'mechanics' are basically worked out, (but would Love to hear any ideas) What I need now, is an effective medium to break down the 'material' into composted soil. I've experimented with 'humus' and some bio-chemicals and the results were negligible. Would like some other specific ideas if anyone has some. Thanks
chrisnotap5 years ago
You have done a great job! Your mind is always going and that's fantastic! Keep at it. You are helping to keep pressure off the public water system. I have a rainwater system myself and have 6 barrels all connected, off the ground 3 feet, connected to my toilet, basic filter to keep the crude, leaves, at bay, ball valve to fill watering cans easily for the garden. I want to make a filter this spring, once the freezing winter is over, and it will be a slow sand filter only for the toilet. My problem is tree debris. It turns the water to like a tea colour. I am also working on a wind powered water pump to pump the water to a barrel in my attic so I have more pressure and can connect the mainfloor toilet to it too. As of now, I use the lower washroom for 7 - 8 months and save a lot of water on my bill. I hope to publish my system on the site in the future.
july 06 018.jpgjuly 06 024.jpg
oddie1212 (author)  chrisnotap5 years ago
Thanks chris! That's awsome! hopefully this year i'll have my toilets all hooked up and the system expanded. Here's my suggestion back to you about the tea color. 1. The crude method that i did using gravity and the pool filter as you stated. The thing I'd add is a ( i can't remember the exact term that has been used in my searching around on other people's professional systems) pre-cleaning system. It sounds complicated but its really again quite crude. basically connect your down spout to a 3-6" (depending on amount of gutter length) and in a U shape that's 1.5 times higher than your barrels (or main inlet of your barrels) with a T on the bottom corner away from your barrels that has a clean out plug which the clean out plug will have a 1/4" hole or so (have to experiment yet) that has a hose on it that runs out to the yard. The other end of the U then goes into your barrels / main filter system. What this then does is any bird or animal droppings will go into the U as run off out of the 1/4 hole in the beginning of the rain fall so the longer it rains then the U will fill up then go into your main filter or barrels. I'm sure there is problems with this also but it seems like a nice prefilter. The other thing it does is allows the leaves (if you don't have gutter protectors on your roof) to go in there which can than be cleaned out every now and then. 2. The other way i thought of doing so was taking an additional barrel which would contain an sump pump and act like your sump in the basement. As it rains the water would go first into this additional barrel. When it gets to a level the pump would turn on and pass the water through either a sediment filter or micron filters so the water in your barrels would be "clean" water. The problem i see with this would be again the leaves and gunk would sit on the bottom of the barrel and would be a PAIN to clean out with out adding some sort of bottom drain to let the leaves out plus you'd probably have to use your now collected water to clean it out lol. I'm working on my house sometime this year which I'll add an addition onto my garage and I'm going to get a large farm tank to put in there to house my "clean water" so i can hopefully have enough water all year... How I'm going to do the entire setup... yea a mystery yet haha. Hopefully this helps you in some way or gets you thinking of other ideas. Feel free to share! :-D
Yes, I already have an idea in place that I will be making just like you have described. It's called a "first flush" system. Of the 6 barrels I have, I am going to use one for the first flush. I am going to put a 3" t on top of the first flush barrel just the way a T is in a sentence. Down spout will be connected to the one side of the t. The polluted first run-off water and poop and leaves will come in and drop into the first barrel. When the water gets to the top, there will be a ball lever that will rise and plug the incoming water with the ball. Once it plugs it will now flow across the t and into the next 5 barrels. At the bottom of the first flush barrel about 1 foot up from the bottom I will have a small dia. hose, maybe 1/4" or so. It will always be flowing water as long as it's raining. Once the rain stops falling, this first flush barrel will empty on it's own and since the hose is one foot up from the bottom, leaves shouldn't plug the hose from draining the water. The beauti of this system is that if you don't get a good downpour to flush the leaves and junk off the roof and it just drizzles, the first flush barrel will not fill and plug the hole with the ball and the water will just drain out of the 1/4" hose. If it rains hard, the first flush fills, ball plugs hole and bob's your uncle. My whole thinking in this project is to not use any power at all, all gravity fed or use wind to lift it. If you are having a problem finding a hook up for the toilet so you can switch from city to rain and back ,I have the sweetest setup and you can get it all at home depot. Let me know. Thanks, Chris
I personally don't think it's necessary to filter the water.If your reason for filtering it is to keep crud out of your pump, what you could do is have one barrel to collect,then it could overflow into another 1/2/or 3 barrels.This would allow all sediment to fall to the bottom of the first collection tank.If you are concerned about floating debris you could use a simple screen to filter the overflow pipe and have multiple levels of overflow for redundancy if the screen/strainer were to become plugged. Let me know what you think. -T
handidad5 years ago
Most filters that would clean the water enough for drinking would not have enough flow with only gravity feeding. To get more filtering with the drain, you could raise it higher off the bottom, preferably almost to the top . Possibly if the incoming water was made to swirl, it might drop more of the sediments. Some vacuums work with a cyclonic action.
you could just use a filter for a fish tank. Most have activated carbon inside a little mesh bag. Just slip the bag in the pipe and the water would pass through it. The only problem is changing the filter. It would be hard and maybe expensive to replace the filter often.
mman15065 years ago
the brita filters for jugs which you can usually buy at grocery stores have activated charchol in them to filter. just drill the right size hole and pop the filter in and the last about 2 months and are about 5-7$ and require no pressure
quigs9995 years ago
I find that if you put the shower drain in the side of the Tidy Cat bucket, instead of the bottom, a lot of stuff that gets through your top screen (like sediment) will sink to the bottom and not get into your main tank. You can clean it out once in a while or just have another valve in the bottom to drain it completely.
kretzlord5 years ago
If you really want to filter it, you could put a screen on the bottom, and fill it all with activated carbon. That would get super expensive, but work wonderfully. You could even make a bed of rocks on the bottom, and put a chunk of grass sod in there. Wouldn't be the most sanitary at first, but if you could get sterile soil w/o chemicals and some grass see, you could grow your own turf in there to naturally filter out a lot of stuff!
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