Home Improvements

Simple Greywater System for Beginners

A family of four can save 200-300 liters of grey water daily. In South Africa, where the water demand exceeds the available supply, water reuse is vital. So, installing a greywater system can be a game changer.

Are you interested in reducing your water consumption but don’t know where to start? Implementing a greywater system will help you achieve this goal.

This guide will walk you through the basics of setting up a greywater system suitable for beginners. Start with a basic system as a DIY project and expand the system as you can.

So, keep reading for ways to get started on this environmentally friendly way to reduce water consumption and contribute to sustainable living.

Extreme close up of a water droplet landing in a pool of water.

What is Greywater?

Greywater is wastewater generated from sources like:

  • Sinks/Baths

  • Showers

  • Laundry machines

Unlike blackwater (from toilets), greywater is relatively clean. So you can reused it for non-potable purposes like irrigation and flushing toilets.

Benefits of a Greywater System

By reusing greywater, you reduce reliance on freshwater sources. This not only lessens the load on the sources, but also helps you be more mindful of your water use.

With a greywater system in place, you’ll see a reduction in your water bill over time. This is because you’re relying less on municipal water supplies.

Conserving water also means reducing the energy required for water treatment and distribution. This, in turn, means lower carbon emissions and a smaller ecological footprint.

Hot water running out of a tap, steam coming off of it. Letting hot water run is an important step in what to do if your geyser bursts.

Getting Started

First you’ll need to evaluate your household’s water usage. This helps you identify areas where greywater can be effectively utilized. Common applications include garden irrigation and toilet flushing.

Then you’ll need to make sure to check local regulations regarding greywater use and ensure compliance with applicable laws or codes. Some areas may have restrictions or guidelines for greywater systems.

There are various types of greywater systems. These can range from simple diverter valves to more complex filtration and treatment systems. A basic diverter system is often the easiest to install and maintain for beginners.

You’ll need to plan out your garden irrigation zones, ensuring that greywater is evenly distributed. Then use mulch and soil amendments to improve water absorption and prevent runoff.

Regularly inspect and maintain your greywater system to prevent clogs and ensure proper function. Finally, clean filters and screens as needed and monitor water quality to avoid potential health risks.

How Does a Basic Diverter System Work

This is one of the simplest types of greywater systems used to redirect greywater without storage tanks. Here’s how it works:

Collection Point

The greywater diverter system begins at the point where the greywater starts. These could be a shower, bathtub, bathroom sink, or washing machine.

You might find that some starting points are easier to work with than others. If a sink is in a different area of your home compared to everything else, it might be too much work to link that sink to your system.

Diverter Valve

You’ll need to install a diverter valve in the plumbing system to divert greywater from the usual drainage route. Depending on the system’s design and preferences, this valve can be manually operated or automated.

Once you activate the diverter valve, the greywater is then routed through a separate pipe system instead of flowing directly into the sewer or septic system.

Outdoor Irrigation

The diverted greywater flows outdoor areas such as gardens, lawns, or landscaping for irrigation purposes. You can achieve this through a series of pipes, hoses, or drip irrigation systems. Most home improvement stores have a variety of irrigation systems you can hook up to your new system.



Gravity Flow

In many basic diverter systems, gravity moves the greywater from the point of diversion to the outdoor irrigation area. The slope of the pipes and landscape contours can help facilitate this flow.

Once the greywater reaches the outdoor irrigation area, it can spread to plants and soil. you can do this through various methods, including drip lines, soaker hoses, or surface watering.

No Storage

Unlike more complex greywater systems, a basic diverter system does not need greywater storage tanks. Instead, the greywater gets used immediately for irrigation straight from the source.

Implementing Safe Practices

There are ways to reuse greywater safely and effectively. If you are considering this option, keep the following in mind:

Identify Suitable Sources.

Only use greywater from indicated sources. Avoid using water from toilets (blackwater) as it contains contaminants that may pose health risks.

Choose eco-friendly detergents and soaps to minimize the impact of greywater on soil and plants.

Understand Limitations

Untreated greywater should not come into contact with drinking water sources or food crops. It is safe to use on ornamental gardens and landscapes, but avoid using the following:

  • Harsh chemicals

  • Bleach

  • Products containing boron

  • Salt

  • Borax, as these can harm plants and soil microbiota

Ensure that greywater is always directed away from foundations and building structures to prevent moisture buildup and potential damage.

Monitor and Maintain

You’ll need to periodically inspect the greywater systems. This includes the pipes, filters, and distribution outlets, to detect leaks or clogs and address them promptly.

Then you need to clean the filters and screens as needed. This is to prevent blockages and ensure proper water flow.

Follow Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with local regulations and guidelines about greywater use, including any permits or restrictions that may apply in your area.

You need to ensure that your greywater system installation and operation adhere to building codes and environmental regulations to avoid potential fines or penalties.

Sustainable Greywater System Practices

Using a simple greywater system offers a straightforward way to manage water sustainably at home. By redirecting used water from sinks, showers, and washing machines to outdoor watering, they help save freshwater and cut down on wastewater.

These systems conserve water and promote eco-friendly living. Their simplicity and affordability pave the way for a greener future, where every drop counts towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

If you’re ready to get started with a greywater system, but need some help, contact one of our plumbers today!

You’re in good company