I swear we are set for the apocalypse solely because we will never have a drought as long as we live in our house. Our basement is subject to flooding so often we’ll actually see bubbling coming from the floor. My Dad thinks we’re smack dab on top of a natural spring. So when he installed a sump pump for us last year, he wasn’t surprised to hear that our sump runs on average every half an hour.
The problem, though, (as you can see) is that our sump would drain directly into our driveway.
It was a makeshift solution since we had limited time. Dad was here from Florida for a week, and there were lots of things to do to the house. We weren’t allowed to have it run into the sewer lines either. At first, we thought it wouldn’t be a big issue. But then, the algae film showed up and made our driveway a slippery mushy problem.
What can be done?
The original goal was to eventually divert this runoff water into a dry well. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make use of all of that water, especially for plants. My Venus Fly Traps are super-finicky and can’t handle our tap water, so I typically give them rainwater when I can…but sump water would most likely work just as well. Wasn’t there a way to save it somehow? That’s when I started googling rain barrels.
What I found out is that not many people seem to be having this issue. Or if they are, they’re certainly not blogging about it. Most ways of handling sump pump water mentioned the dry well, but there were so few posts about finding better ways to use it or setting up any sort of sump pump rain barrel connection that I thought it was a useless task.
This is where my Dad, who is a certified Master Plumber, shines. He worked out a solution for me to create a series of PVC pipes and switches that would be able to divert the water for use when I wanted. Or, send it over into a dry well when I didn’t (i.e. winter, or if, for some reason, the rain barrel was full).
Sump Pump Rain Barrel DIY
I’ll get into the dry well in another post, but if you’re curious about how to set up a sump pump rain barrel connection, here’s how we did it. It’s not very complicated, and I’ll grant you it’s not the most aesthetically-pleasing setup, but I’d rather have white PVC pipes here and there than sludgy driveways or permanently-damp basements, you know?
- 1.5â€ PVC pipe
- 1.5â€ PVC elbows
- 1.5â€ PVC valves
- PVC Cement
- Pipe straps
- PVC flange
- Rain Barrel
- Optional: Paver stones
- PVC Cutter
- Extend the PVC pipe from the sump pump to where your rain barrel will live. For this project, we already had the PVC pipe running from the sump so we didnâ€™t need to make any cuts into the house. We did, however, have to use a 2â€ drill saw bit to cut a hole through the fence so the pipe could make it through.
- Set up your valve system: We used two valves, one that was meant for the rain barrel, the other which was solely for the dry well. In the summer, the valve towards the barrel was turned â€œonâ€ while the dry well was turned â€œoffâ€
- Create the rain barrel pipeline. We decided not to cut into the barrel just out of ease; it felt easier to move the barrel under a â€œspoutâ€ than to have the pipe go directly into the barrel. The caveat here is to make sure your sump pump has enough power to push the water up through the spout.Â
- Create the dry well runoff. After the valve, attach the PVC flange and run the rest of the pipe into the dry well.
- Cement all of the pieces into place. I absolutely advise you to not connect things together until youâ€™re sure how it all fits together. I had to make a few trips to get new elbows because we cemented things together before thinking it through.
- Install the overflow hose from the rain barrel into the PVC flange. This was my method for handling any sort of overflow issues. Itâ€™s not secured in the flange very well, but that's so I can store the barrel during the winter and not have to worry about disconnecting things in a permanent way.
Tools We Used
And that’s it! Now I have rainwater and sump water that’s good for my plants, our driveway is sludge-free, and life is beautiful. Creating the sump pump rain barrel setup wasn’t as hard as I thought, it just took a little thinking through (and you know, lots of PVC pipe!)
Some Things to Consider Before Building Your Own
- Find a rain barrel that has an overflow, just in case. The last thing you’ll want is a full rain barrel wasting water.
- Now that you’ve found the right rain barrel, where will the overflow divert to? If you’ve got some kind of garden you could probably hook it up to a makeshift irrigation system. I wish we had done something better with that instead of the dry well, but it’s not a big enough deal for me to start breaking it down and restarting.
- Are you in an area that allows for rain barrels? I found out that some towns actually have rules against rainwater collection; isn’t that crazy? I’m not sure how sump pump water fits into those rules, but you should probably check first.
- Will you need to move the rain barrel when the seasons change? If I were more on top of things, I’d probably drain mine at the end of the year and store it for the winter, as I’ve heard that gives it more longevity. However, my ADHD and, let’s be honest, apathy means I never get around to it…though it would be a good idea.