Now that our wet season is pretty much over, it is time to switch back to gray watering in the in the back yard garden. For a little over 5 years we have been using some of the water from our washer machine to irrigate part of the backyard. During most of that time, the washer machine water was just sent out through a hole I haphazardly made in the laundry room window and into a homemade surge tank. I posted about our secret homemade grey water system, not long after California legalized the use of gray water in the home landscape. We would untie the system in the wet months, from about late October to April. If we had to use a product in the washer machine that wasn’t healthy for the yard, like borax, or if we had an unseasonable wet spell, it was always a hassle to temporarily disconnect it. In addition, it was an eye sore, kind of Frankensteined together with spare parts.
When we planned out the face lift in the laundry room, the one thing at the very top of MY wish list was a gray water diverter valve for the washer machine that was within the requirements of the new code here in California. There is no turning back on our decision to use gray water, unless we want another home improvement project. While we had the wall open behind the washer, we drilled out through the exterior stucco in order to plumb it and braced the pipe within the wall. It still doesn’t look very pretty, but it does look better than the hole in the window with duct tape and it is much easier switching between draining to the sewer or to the outdoors.
I tried to find a valve locally at a variety of pool supply stores and big box home improvement stores, but none had the size I needed or the kind I wanted. I ended up getting it from Oasis Design. Oasis Design is a good website to visit if you are thinking about irrigating with gray water. It is run by the same author whose books I read prior to building our own system in 2007. It has lots of do’s and don’ts, and helpful tips, in addition to reference books and supplies.
The surge tank is not for storage, only as a momentary stop for the water to cool, to filter lint, and prevent a pump problem. For more details on the trash can surge tank and why I use it, visit my post about it from 2010.