I was surprised the next day to find that it had filled the trash can and made a fair sized puddle on the floor, and quite a mess with a stack of papers that was sitting there. After some rough calculations I discovered that about 350 gallons (1300 liters) was being wasted annually. (And that was a conservative estimate!)
I decided to install a pump and use this water for my small garden which was right outside the basement door. All I needed was to figure out how to spread the water evenly for the plants.
We have used this system for several years now... as soon as we move into our new home we will install the updated version described here.
Step 1: The Original Design
The cross pieces on the original unit were made from a 4-way Tee section that I had modified on my lathe. Since not everyone has access to a lathe to machine the parts, and because I am getting a new house and will rebuild the system anyway, a new way of doing this was devised.
Another change that was made was the area where the water left the house and went to the A-Frame... I had used flexible tubing but after a few years it became brittle in the sunlight. I switched to ridged PVC, but this made the unit difficult to move around. Both of those problems were solved with the new design.
Step 2: Starting at the Air Conditioner...
This really works out well because instead of your plants getting a great deal of water once in the day... they get a small watering several times all day long. Since the water is from an air conditioner it tends to be very cool... this helps keep the plants from overheating too. Before this project I could barely keep the plants alive... now... I have to cut them back all summer!
The pump is placed lower than the output of your air conditioner system and a flexible tubing is run from the pump to the wall where we drill a small hole for the connection to the outside.
Step 3: Run the Tubing to the Outside Wall...
Be sure that the path you take from the air conditioner to the outside wall does not lay directly on any electrical boxes, lights, or run across anything that could melt it such as the flue for your heater. Likely you won't have any problems finding a good path, but I wanted to be sure the design is safely installed!
Step 4: Moving Outside...
The original design just had the hose outside, then it was updated to rigid PVC which worked but was not as easy to relocate and maneuver. The new design is very flexible and the whole unit can be moved to allow you full access to your garden if you need it for weeding and such.
We used a fitting designed to go onto a 1/4 inch ID (6mm) pipe nipple long enough to penetrate the wall and leave some threads out. We didn't want the fitting to scratch up the paint on the wall but we wanted to be able to really tighten it down to keep it secure and keep insects out.
The design was simple... add washers and tighten down the fittings to sandwich it all together into a solid attachment point for the hose.
Step 5: Let's Build a Frame...
Once the two side units are assembled the water tube is press fit (friction fit) into the top Tee connections. As it works out... the fit is very good.
Step 6: The Water Bar Assembly...
The bar is very easy to build, simply cut your two long peices to the proper length and glue them into the Tee connector as shown.
Glue the two end caps onto the tube and allow to dry.
Drill a series of 1/16 (1.5mm) holes evenly spaced every 2 to 3 inches (50 to 70mm) down the length of the pipe. If you use a slightly larger diameter drill, say 1/8 inch (2.5mm), then space them every 6 to 8 inches (150 to 200mm) apart.
For tomatoes I used a 6 inch (150mm) spacing... for beets and peppers I used 4 inches (100mm)... it's not that critical.
If you hang the water bar from a structure you may need to support the feed hose so it doesn't move the bar off-axis. It's good to use a level to be sure everything is watered well and evenly.
Step 7: Enjoy!
All in all this was a fun and benifical project... it saves precious resources, makes you work less in the garden, and because the water contains no chlorine... your vegetables taste much better and the plants don't yellow as much.