Home Improvements

How It Works: Greywater System

Roughly 25-30% of our water is lost due to water leaks caused by failing infrastructure. South Africa’s water piping system won’t be completely fixed in the near future, so it’s up to us to make a difference. Set up a greywater system to do that. 

Greywater is an underutilised source, but you can change that! Greywater is any and all water that is not potable. This includes rainwater, waste water, and untreated borehole water. Most greywater systems mainly use waste water from washing machines, showers, and basins. 

It’s important to note that water from a kitchen sink or dishwasher isn’t grey water, but raw sewage, so don’t try to connect those! The easiest way to decide what water can be reused is to think about what you’d be comfortable sticking your hand into.

Greywater systems are important for sustainable living. Keep reading to learn how they work and how to set up your own. 

Close up of an outdoor tap. Greywater systems can be connected to sprinklers and outdoor tap systems.

How Does a Greywater System Work?

Greywater systems require a few components to work. The most important parts are:

  • A holding tank
  • A submersible pump
  • Pipes

The most complicated aspect of setting up a greywater system is redirecting the water into the holding tank. You need to locate the pipes that lead to your showers, baths, and basins, as well as your washing machine. Then instead of letting the water flow into a sewage line, you need to redirect it to your tank. To ensure this is done properly you can hire a skilled plumber to do the setup for you.

Outdoor water tank storing grey water.

Once the water is redirected to the tank, the hard part is done. Now you need to install a submersible pump. This type of pump ensures the grey water is pumped out regularly. It activates when the water level is high enough and switches off automatically if the water level is low enough. 

Your pump can be connected to your sprinkler system, or you can filter the water and let it flow into another holding tank for later use. It’s best to use grey water as soon as possible to ensure it doesn’t start to smell.

Outdoor pump connected to a water system.

What Can You Use Grey Water For?

You don’t want to redirect the water in a way that it might accidentally be consumed.

But other than that, you can use grey water for pretty much anything else. 

Untreated grey water can be used for irrigation and flushing toilets. If you have an extremely sophisticated filtration system you can use the water for things like swimming pool top ups. 

Close up of a sprinkler spraying water over a green lawn. Greywater is a great option for sprinkler systems.

Is It Legal to Use Grey Water?

Greywater systems are completely legal, but the installations of these systems need to be done correctly. 

Diverting all your grey water isn’t a good idea. Sewage lines need grey water to prevent blockages. So you need to be strategic about what grey water you’re diverting. 

Some municipalities like Beaufort West have even asked residents to reduce the diversion of grey water. This is because they need most of the used water back in order to filter, sterilise and treat it. This water is then fed back into the system as potable water. 

Network of pipes on the outside wall of a building. Greywater systems get attached to existing pipe networks.

Consider Installing a Greywater System ASAP

Chances are the water crisis won’t be fixed in our lifetime, so we need to make the most of the resources we have. It’s up to everyone to do their part and save as much water as possible. 

To get started on your water-saving journey, contact a plumber today. 

You’re in good company