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Old 26-01-2009, 09:07 PM   #1
Bigpikle
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Using recycled rainwater...

For well over 18 months I have been using rainwater as my sole source of car washing water. I have spoken with a few people about it over that time but recent requests made me think I should put up a little thread of my experiences...

Why?

My hose is on a water meter, and after my first year of detailing, with foams and multi bucket washes each week on 3 cars, I was scared to death by a water bill At the same time I was also already collecting rainwater for all our gardening uses, and was increasingly surprised how clean it was I also suffer from having a very sunny house with my driveway in full sun most of the day during summer. Coupled with uber hard water, it gave me a nightmare in summer with terrible water spotting

How?

Initially I started to experiment using a watering can from my water butts for a final rinse. This worked well, so `i decided to try connecting my PW as well. One thing lead to another and I started to run out of water very quickly as soon as the rain stopped for any period of time. I decided to invest in a bigger tank

What I have found is that connecting tanks in 'series' (all water draining into 1 tank, overflowing into the next etc) is the key to success. The first water butt in the 'daisychain' gets pretty dirty and collects 90% of the muck that washes down my roof. The 2nd tank has water that looks pretty clean, but under close inspection has very small amounts of particulate in it sometimes, and my 3rd tank is clear water with NO particle matter in it at all

Initially I was paranoid and used extra fine paint filters to filter all water I took from the tank, but after a few months of using this I never once found anything in the filter, which was THE finest paint filter I could buy, so I gave up bothering any more....

So this is what my setup looks like:





All water runs into the front water butt (next to the gate) and then flows through a water butt linking kit at the top, into the next one, and then the 2nd one when full flows into the largest tank. The water butts hold 220L each and the big tank is 1600L IIRC.

Water Pressure

I was initially disappointed with the complete lack of water pressure that comes from a tank like these. I expected gravity to have some impact, but the taps fitted seem to restrict flow to a very low pressure. Add on a standard hose and you barely get a dribble from them....

If using a PW you will either need a machine that will happily draw through a hose put in the top of the water butt, or need to pump the water from the tank. I use a B&Q 'el cheapo' water butt pump like the one below, that cost £29.99 and provides a flow rate of 2200L/min, which is ample to feed even a water-hungry machine like my Kranzle...



Learnings

1. a single water butt of a typical 220L capacity wont feed a PW for very long. You'll be surprised how much water you get through...

2. they fill remarkably quickly when it rains, from even a small roof area, like the small area feeding my tanks - 1 night of rain will usually fill a tank 70% or so, depending on how heavy it falls...

3. if you use a natural gravity filter, as described above, you will get extremely clean water very easily, with minimal need for filtering if you are lucky 3 tanks seem optimal but with a little effort the water from a 2nd tank is usable. Water from my 2nd water butt is certainly no dirtier than a wash bucket once you have dipped a wash mitt in it a few times from a grubby car I wouldnt drink it, but its perfect for washing a car

4. rainwater in my area leaves ZERO water spotting even in full sun

5. I have saved a lot of money in water costs from this setup, as well as being eco-friendly by massively reducing the amount of processed tap water I am using.

6. Shampoo foams MUCH better, and the suds last much longer, with the softer rainwater than tap water

7. The only tap water I now use is for diluting products and ALL washing is done with rainwater

Let me know if anyone has any questions....

Last edited by Bigpikle; 01-02-2009 at 06:21 PM.
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rain, rainwater, recycled, water, water butt


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