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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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Old 26-01-2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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I've not used for washing (yet) but have been using a couple of cans to rinse, I am also in a very hard water area, and again my drive is in full sun, but have found after just pouring a couple of cans over, ther is no need to dry, certainly not at this time of year, maybe in summer when I want the car to be spotless I will, but the car lives outside, and is used daily, so never stays clean for more than ady or so this time of year. I only have 2 tanks, and the 2nd is usually clean enough to use.
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Old 26-01-2009, 09:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APK View Post
I've not used for washing (yet) but have been using a couple of cans to rinse, I am also in a very hard water area, and again my drive is in full sun, but have found after just pouring a couple of cans over, ther is no need to dry, certainly not at this time of year, maybe in summer when I want the car to be spotless I will, but the car lives outside, and is used daily, so never stays clean for more than ady or so this time of year. I only have 2 tanks, and the 2nd is usually clean enough to use.
I found it works much better in summer as well, making it less critical to get it all dried off before it dries on the paint, even on a dark coloured car
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Old 26-01-2009, 09:18 PM   #4
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I use a similar setup except that I have found no need for a pump to the PW. I found that by pushing the hose from the PW direct on to the tap on the butt with no connector of any kind my Karcher PW is perfect, I saw that the typical connector was reduced inside to about 3/16" bore. My water butts are lifted aprox 12" off the ground. When we went onto a water meter roughly 4 years ago this is what I decided to do. As a retired Plumber I soon had this sussed out.
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Old 13-09-2017, 04:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftflo View Post
I use a similar setup except that I have found no need for a pump to the PW. I found that by pushing the hose from the PW direct on to the tap on the butt with no connector of any kind my Karcher PW is perfect, I saw that the typical connector was reduced inside to about 3/16" bore. My water butts are lifted aprox 12" off the ground. When we went onto a water meter roughly 4 years ago this is what I decided to do. As a retired Plumber I soon had this sussed out.
Was thinking of doing this, but wasn't sure if the 'gravity water pressure' on tap will be sufficient for the PW ??

What Karcher do you use??

Thx,

C.
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Old 13-09-2017, 05:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinioo View Post
Was thinking of doing this, but wasn't sure if the 'gravity water pressure' on tap will be sufficient for the PW ??
The way to check this is to test the amount of water flowing into a bucket over a period of 30 seconds or a minute (depending on the flow and the size of your bucket) and compare that to the flow rate for your PW. Also bear in mind that flow rate from a water butt or similar will reduce as the water level drops.
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Old 15-09-2017, 03:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinioo View Post
Was thinking of doing this, but wasn't sure if the 'gravity water pressure' on tap will be sufficient for the PW ??

What Karcher do you use??

Thx,

C.
its only a small one I cannot remeber the model number I have had it about 8 years, i have had this working from one of the 100L butts and it was fine, the pressure from the tap at the bottom of the 210L tank is much higher so cannot foresee any problems with this
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Old 16-09-2017, 05:35 PM   #8
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Rainwater re use

Hi, (I've just posted this on the Scottish section)

I have purchased these 2 from Amazon and have now run a rainwater hose to the front of our house so I am able to connect my pressure washer to the water butt when I want. It's a chea**** solution.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/foam-water-...%20water%20gun

https://www.amazon.co.uk/151652-Heav.../dp/B01LWY1VO8
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Old 26-01-2009, 09:25 PM   #9
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what would be the best way/cheapest way to filter the water if using 1 butt? iv been thinking about collecting the water from my garage flat roof which goes straight into my garden and keeps flooding it , i would only want to be using the rain water to rinse ,also where is the cheapest place for water butts?
thanks

Last edited by uk_; 26-01-2009 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 26-01-2009, 09:29 PM   #10
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what would be the best way/cheapest way to filter the water if using 1 butt? iv been thinking about collecting the water from my garage flat roof which goes straight into my garden and keeps flooding it , i would only want to be using the rain water to rinse
thanks
I used some filters like these - they should catch all particulates

I find the water in my first water butt can get a bit slimy at times though, so keep it rinsed out and all should be better. Might even be worth 2 slim water butts next to each other as i really think have a 2nd tank makes a big difference...
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