Greetings everyone! After a long time lurking, this is my first Instructable, so be nice as I try to figure this out! :)
Okay, the Idea here is that I live in a older house that Was retrofitted to central air conditioning. The air handling unit of that AC was installed in the attic of the house. The condensation drip pan drains from the attic of the house, to the ground where it just.. kinda bleeds out to the ground.
Why not collect that condensation Run off and use it?
Now before any one starts screaming "OMGWTFBBQFREON!".. it doesn't work that way. the freon is on a closed system in the AC, its the stuff that transports hot energy away to make cold stuff... the Water we are collecting here is the condensation form the humidity in the air that is created from that exchange of cold and hot.... It's.. well.. a lot like the sweat on your glass of cold, clear, water as you chill out after a day in the heat, sun and humidity.
During the Dog days of summer, when I've measured it out? that condensation is averaging 25 gallons in a day.
So, yo get down to the nitty gritty of it? this is a basic rain barrel, I'm just harvesting drip water from my AC.
this instructable, as is, only qualifies to houses that have air handling units mounted in upper levels of houses. most newer construction usually has the air handling unit mounted in the lowest level of the house where the condensation runs right into a floor drain. there are float level devices out there that can be used to pump collected condensation water to a desired location. These things are purposely built for commercial ice machines, and add nothing but cost and complexity to this thing we are building.
I built this thing for about $15
The barrel itself came to me free from work. I work for a Microbrewery and the Barrel is what our sanitizing acid comes in. yeah, yeah chill out.. it's food grade. A blend of nitric and phosphoric acid. if you have ever drank a coke or a sprite? You drank this stuff. the MSDS lists it as 1,0,0. Granted, Ive seen the stuff complelty disolve a cadmium socket wrench socket in a week.... but that's besides the point. ;)
in any case, the plastic is food grade and the barrel is complely rinsed out and all is well in the world.
The standing frame is made from five eight foot sticks of outdoor treated 2"x4". Two sticks are cut in half to make four legs. the rest of the lumber is chopped down to 10 26" sections.
take two legs and frame a 26" stick to the top of the legs. next. measure 13 inches from the base of the feet. Frame in another short stick using the measurement as your base line.
Repeat for the other set of "legs"
use the next four short sticks to lock in the frame. the last two short sticks are laid across the top of the lower frame to provide the support for the barrel.
Step 1: Create and Install the Spigot
So you are collecting all this water... you need a way to get it out of the bucket so you can use it.
The Barrel has two factory ports on the top if it. One has a fine thread, the other a course. in either case. the center of the cap is molded to take a 1/2" pipe fitting. I'll be taking advantage of that.
parts list is all 1/2" fittings.
1x 1/2" thread to 1/2" butt joint coupler.
1x ball valve.
2x 90 degree elbow fitting.
1x 4' stick 1/2" PVC tubing..
you got some scrap tubing lying around?
under a foot?
you'll be fine
so detail is the threaded coupler into the cap of the barrel. Use a dremel to cut out the pug of the cap. make the cup flush to the Interior diameter of the fitting. Get an O-ring that fits the same diameter of base of the threaded end of the coupler. Place the O-ring at the inside lip of that hole, then thread in the coupler to the cap.
Now install the caps to the barrel. the cap is threaded, gasketed and water tight when installed properly. There is a special wrench for these caps. but, don't worry about that, you wont be able to use it for the business end cap anyways, a pair of spread out channel locks will work just fine for torquing down the cap, and the coupler.
Install the cap and coupler to the barrel.
Flip the Barrel upside down and drop into the support frame. Center the tapped hole Between the supports.
Center out the foot brace and use a spade bit to drill out a 15/16" hole.
Peering through that hole, measure out from the flush point of the coupler coming out of the cap to the center of the hole. cut that length from the stock 1/2" PVC tubing.
Cement one end of the first 90 degree fitting to the measured pieces of PVC tubing. the other end goes into the cap coupling with an O-ring.
once that assembly is in place insert the tubing through the hole drilled through the bottom brace to mate to the 90 degree fitting. Measure one inch from the brace and cut off the tubing.
cement the measured piece to the 90 degree, then cement the ball valve to that.
from the remainder of the tubbing, cut out about an inch and a half then loose for that to the remaining 90 degree and the other end of the ball valve
Step 2: The Assembled Unit So Far.
So now we have a 55 gallon plastic drum. the cap has been modified for a spigot and the whole thing turned upside down in frame designed to have its spigot high enough off the ground to accept a watering can, the spout can be removed and used however we want,
the spigot piping can be disconnected if the barrel needs to replaced, or, for what ever reason.
both caps are threaded. conceivably one could daisy chain a bunch of them together
Step 3: The Device in Place and Installed.
After assembling the device, it is time to install it
The whole thing is positioned as close to the condensation pan drain as possible. In my case. i had to be careful here because all the services for the AC came up and down as a trunk of sorts between the air handler unit in the attic, and the heat exchanger down stairs.
The drain of the condensation pan led outside via a 1/2" PVC pipe ( how convenient!)
A length of flexible braided 1/2 vinyl tubing was measured to have a inch of tubing in the barrel, and to provide a gentle arc to the drain pipe of the condensation pan.
Once the measurement was taken, the flex tubing was cemented to a 1/2" PVC coupler. Once set and sealed, the coupler is cemented to the drain pipe and the flex is fitted into the Hole on top of the Barrel.
And that should be it, but, we need to take some safety precautions here..
Namely, the barrel needs to be vented to allow air to escape.. that's a simple physics thing right there. Positive air pressure could cause the drain to burp and clog,
But most importantly. the Barrel could over flow. If the level of the water in the barrel covers up the end of the in-feed, it will continue to flow up the drain pipe,and back up to the condensation pan until THAT over flows, and a full drip pan could cause the coils in the Air handler unit to freeze up.
To avoid all this heart ache.. a few weep holes drilled in the top of the barrel to allow air to escape, and water to over flow before it covers up the water inlet.
Step 4: Let the Water Flow!
As you can see, a small but steady stream of condensation water will flow from the pan and into the bucket. It doesn't look like much, but it can add up to at least 20 gallons a day!