What Is A Greywater Plumbing System?

Greywater is a term used to describe all previously used water in the home, and includes water used in the shower, kitchen sink, washing machine and many other household sources. It does not include water tainted with sewage, like water that comes from the toilet. While greywater is generally disposed of as waste, this water can actually be reused or recycled in the home in a surprising variety of ways. Read on to learn how greywater plumbing systems work and to determine if these systems are a good fit for your family.


When planning for a greywater system, it's important to keep health in mind. You wouldn't want greywater running into your kitchen sink, for example. Two of the simplest and most widely-used applications for greywater include toilet flushing and irrigation, both are which are huge water wasters. For example, up to 50 percent of all freshwater used inside the home is used to flush toilets. That means a huge reduction in water use if you simply re-purpose other water for toilet flushing. Watering the lawn, flowers, and shrubs is also a great way to take advantage of greywater,


The advantages of adding a greywater system are two-fold; first, you can significantly reduce your water consumption, thereby lowering your water bills and helping to preserve this precious, limited resource. Remember, people in some third world countries have to travel miles to collect drinking water -- does that change your perspective on using clean, fresh water in your toilet? Incorporating greywater also reduces the amount of water you have to dispose of. This means less pressure on your septic system and less money spent pumping this system out over time. Even if you use a municipal sewer line, taking advantage of greywater can help lower your sewer bills and reduce your impact on the environment.


Before you invest in a greywater system, check local laws to ensure these systems are legal in your area. Understand the restrictions and specifications required for legal use. It's also important to understand how to safely use greywater. For example, you shouldn't eat raw root vegetables irrigated with certain types of greywater, though you can safely use most greywater supplies on non-edible plants.


Greywater systems can range from incredibly simple to seriously complex. At the most basic level, use a bucket in your shower to capture unused water, and then use this bucket to flush the toilet or to water plants. Toilets with built-in sinks over top are also an easy way to incorporate greywater technology with no plumbing modifications required. Another easy technique is to attach a rain barrel to your washing machine drain to collect water for irrigation. If you want to take full advantage of this technology, consult a plumber to learn how you can store, disinfect and reuse water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines and other fixtures.