Decided to build a water tunnel to help me and the kids cool off on hot summer days. I had seen several other designs on Instructables but wanted something that offered more water coming down (or up in some cases) on us. So we decided to go with a water tunnel, or Water Cube if you want to call it that. The cube is 80 inches high, 40 inches wide and 60 inches long. I tried using both 3/4" and 1/2" PVC pipe and chose 3/4" PVC for the main frame of the cube because 3/4" pipe was sturdier and not much more expensive. I chose 1/2" pipe for the top and bottom cross members because a) I had the size PVC pipe available and was a little worried about water pressure. Water pressure turned out not to be an issue at all so feel free to use all 3/4" pipe if you would like. We were able to drill about 30 holes in the pipes before we stopped. 30 was more than enough for us and we did not notice too much of a pressure drop after drilling the holes. The total build including cutting, assembling, drilling holes and attaching hose took about 2 hours start to finish.
The supplies I used to build the water tunnel were all available in your local home improvement store of choice such as Home Depot, Lowe's or Ace Hardware. The supplies are listed below with links to Home Depot Website, The supplies cost me about $45.
- 4 - 10 foot pieces of 3/4 inch PVC pipe Link
- 2 - 10 foot pieces of 1/2 inch PVC pipe. Link
- 8 - 3/4 inch PVC 90° elbow. Link
- 8 - 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2 inch PVC reducing tee. Link
- 8 - 1/2 inch PVC male adapter Link
- 1 - 1/2 x 3/4 inch PVC reducer male adapter Link
- 1 - 1/2 x 1/2 inch PVC Tee Link
- 1 - Washing machine hose Link
Tools that I used were :
- Chop Saw - To cut the PVC pipe. PVC pipe cutter or hack saw will work as well
- Rubber Mallet - to tighten the elbows and tees onto the PVC pipe
- Cordless Drill - to, ahhh, drill holes
- 1/16 inch drill bit - to make the 30 or so holes in the pipe for water streams.
- Garden hose
- (Optional) PVC cement - I did not use it to allow us to take the tunnel apart for storage but feel free if you are going to make it permanent.
- (Optional) Teflon plumbing tape - for making threads water tight.
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Step 1: Cut the PVC Pipe to Size
This step is pretty straightforward. I bought 10 foot lengths of 3/4" and 1/2" PVC pipe that needed to be cut. 3/4" pipe needed to be cut to make the 4 - 40" and 4 - 80" pieces for the outer cubes of the tunnel. I did this on the chop saw. Once that was done, I further cut the 4 40" pieces into 2 12 inch pieces and 1 16 inch pieces so I ended up with:
- 8 - 12" pieces of 3/4" PVC
- 4 - 16" pieces of 3/4" PVC
- 4 - 80" pieces of 3/4" PVC
Finally, I cut the 4 pieces of 1/2" PVC pipe in half to give me 8 60" pieces of PVC pipe. One of the pieces also needs to be cut to accommodate the PVC tee for the garden hose to be hooked up to. I chose to cut that piece into a 12" piece and a 46" piece (2 inches removed to accommodate the tee). It probably would have been better to purchase a 3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 tee and replace one of the 90° elbows with that so that the garden hose attachment was on the outside of the cube rather than on the inside but I didn't. I also cut one additional piece of 1/2" PVC pipe about 10 inches long to accommodate the garden hose hookup so as to move the connection out of the middle of the cube. If you do not have a scrap piece of pipe, you can either shorten the 60 inch measurements to get you a piece or buy a short piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe.
Step 2: ASSEMBLE!
So now that all of the pieces are cut, let's assemble. I have attached a really bad drawing to show how the pieces go together. If you plan on using PVC cement to put your tunnel together, remember to clean each side of the joint and apply cement as per instructions that came with the cement. With that said, start with the 4 pieces of 80 inch long 3/4 inch PVC pipe and attach a 90° elbow to each end of the pipe. Then to the open end of each of the 8 elbows, attach a 12 inch piece of 3/4 inch PVC pipe.
Now is a good time to tighten each of your assemblies with a rubber mallet. I had each 80 inch long assembly laying on the ground and lifted each 12 inch piece of PVC pipe, stood on the 80 inch PVC pipe to brace it and gave the 12 inch piece a solid hit with the mallet. I then did this with each end of each 80 inch setup that I had (8 total). I then lifted each 80 inch assembly up so it stood 80 some odd inches and hit down to tighten the elbows onto the 80 inch piece. If you are not tall enough to do this, lean the free end of the assembly against a wall or step or have someone step on the other end to brace it while you hit the assembly with the mallet.
Once tightening is done, take the 4 16 inch pieces of 3/4 inch PVC pipe and attach the 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/2 inch reducer tee onto each end. The 1/2 inch side of the tee on each end should face in the same direction. Once done, attach the open end of the reducer tee onto the open side of each 80 inch assembly.
Step 3: Finish the Assembly and Recap
At this point, you should have 2 rectangles of 3/4 inch PVC of approximate size 80" x 40". Ensure when laid on the ground that each 1/2 inch open side of the reducer tee points up. You should also have 3 60 inch pieces of 1/2 inch PVC pipe, as well as a 46 inch piece and a 12 inch piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe. Take a 1/2 inch male adapter and attach it to one end of the 60 inch 1/2 inch pipe. Take the 1/2 inch PVC tee and attach to one end of the 12 inch and 46 inch pipe. Then attach a male adapter to the open end of the 12 inch PVC pipe.
You should now have 4 assemblies of 1/2 inch PVC pipe about 60 inches long with a male adapter on one end and open pipe on the other end. You should also have 2 80" x 40" rectangles of 3/4 inch PVC pipe assemblies. We will call these rectangles rectangle A and rectangle B to make the next instructions easier to follow. Attach (screw) the 4 remaining 1/2 inch male adapters to the 4 open 1/2 inch reducer tee on PVC rectangle A. Attach (screw) one of the 60 inch assemblies male adapter into the open 1/2 inch reducer tee on rectangle B. Then push the open end of that 60 inch assembly onto the matching male reducer you attached to rectangle A. do this 3 more times for the remaining 60 inch assemblies. Now is a good time to tighten up all of your joints with a rubber mallet.
NOTE: The 60 inch assembly that has the 1/2 inch tee should be placed on the bottom of your water tunnel as this will be attached to your garden hose.
Attach the remaining 12 inch piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe into the open end of the 1/2 inch tee on the bottom of your water tunnel. To the open end of this pipe, attach the 1/2 x 3/4 inch PVC reducer male adapter and to the threaded end of that, attach one end of the washing machine hose. You may need to use teflon plumbing tape to the threads to make a water tight seal but I did not have to.
At this point, go around one more time to tighten up all joints with a rubber mallet. Now it is time to connect the garden hose. I drilled 3 or 4 holes into each of the top 1/2 inch pieces of PVC pipe to start and then turned on the water. It takes about 10 seconds for the water to fill up all of the pipes and make it to the top and then you will see the water streaming out of the holes. We drilled about 10 holes each on the top pipes, 2 each on the 16 inch pieces of 3/4 inch PVC pipes in between the 1/2 inch crossbars and a couple on the bottom crossbars to allow water to stream up at us.
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