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Thread: How to run washing machine without council water

  1. #1
    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    How to run washing machine without council water

    Hi

    I am from Cape Town and we soon will have no water coming out of our taps. I was wondering how we can wash our clothing and dishes. I have this idea, but have no idea whether it can work.
    I collect enough water to run a machine load in a drum. I disconnect the supply pipe from council supply and stick in my drum with collected water. Will the washing machine pump suck it from there by itself or does it require a pressurized supply pipe?

    I already collect the water the machine kicks out and use it my cisterns.

    Can anybody help?
    Houses4Rent
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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    All the washing machines I've ever seen require positive water pressure to work, usually at least half a Bar, they won't 'suck' water from a drum. The pump in the washing machine usually only empties the water to drain after the wash cycle.
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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    Thanks Andy. How could I rig this this up then? I can't really put a pump in the drum as it cannot stay on all the time and I do not know when in the cycle the machine needs water. I can't sit next to it anyway to watch it. How about placing the drum on the roof? Will gravity be enough pressure maybe?
    Houses4Rent
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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    Couple of possibilities, you could have a small submersible pump in the drum which is run from a relay which in turn gets operated by power from the washing machine water solenoid valve. This is probably the cheapest but also the more complicated solution and would require a qualified electrician to wire it up.

    Alternatively you get what I call a 'pres-controller'. It's a device that automatically stops and starts a pump when a tap is opened, or in your case a washing machine solenoid valve. I've used the Grundfos one in the past and they're very good and reliable. There are cheaper alternatives available at most irrigation shops and I see there's one in the ACDC catalogue but I can't vouch for them. These controllers are designed to screw on top of a pump which sits next to the tank, they also provide dry run protection and locked rotor protection etc.

    Mounting the tank on a roof might work, I'd guess you'd need about 5 meters or more in height to get enough pressure.
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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    Thanks Andy, I will look into this
    Houses4Rent
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    I honestly think it will be easier to hire someone to hand wash all your clothing, or alternatively get one of those hand-powered washing machines.

    Alternatively, load up your washing load into a watertight container and go driving about with the container in your car, the motion of the car will help the soap to penetrate the clothes.

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    I believe hand washing uses more water than a machine washing. Driving around? Lol, that might result into a flooded car and wastes a lot of time and diesel and is certainly not environmentally friendly. There is also a dishwasher with the same problem.
    Houses4Rent
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    What about investing in a rain harvesting system with its own pressurised tank (via pump) to provide water to your house like the municipality would.

    It can be connected in line to your municipal system and takes over when the municipal water stops or with a switch over between municipal and tank.

    Might need to be filtered though and not sure if you could drink and cook with it. Maybe filter the water you intend to use for drinking and cooking?

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    Gold Member Houses4Rent's Avatar
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    Yeah, I thought of that, but there is no rain and little hope for it either for long periods. So ugly space zapping tanks will be empty for long periods. Also needs more resources and long tern planning. I just want to start with something simple.
    I do not need drinking water much - Newlands spring is near. I am focusing on bulk water like toilets and keep washing machine and dishwasher running somehow.

    Hm, just remember that I have a spare geyser in the roof which just stores surplus hot water from my solar geyser. But its not 5m higher than the machines. And I would not be able to refill it easily. So, not a good idea I guess.

    Are there no Cape Town people here worrying about this?
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    Elevating your collected water drum (or a 20 litre plastic jerry can) above the washing machine could be the easiest way - you would just need to check that this low pressure supply could still pass through the inlet valve.
    Might be worth trying before investing in a pump?

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