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Q&A: How to deal with greywater

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Mike's house is both off the grid and environmentally friendly

Q:I have questions for you regarding grey water from the shower and hand basin that is being led to an underground grey-water tank at the outflow through the wall. Do you a: need a water trap that is then joined to the grey-water pipe and then to the tank; or b: need to lead the water via a gully drain and then onto the grey-water pipe; or c: just connect it straight to the greywater pipe. – Mike 

A: I had a chat to Mike as I was a little confused by his mail. He has built a house over a number of years, which is both off the grid and environmentally friendly. This all began long before our water crisis, and he is now trying to bring his home up to code. 

During the initial build, he connected his shower and basin directly to his underground, grey-water tank, from where the water is pumped out on to his garden. He is getting a plumbing clearance certificate and was told that what he has done is illegal. 

This is a little off my beat, so I chatted to David, one of my friendly plumbers, who advised that having a gulley is the way to go, as there needs to be a definite break to stop water flowing back in case the tank is full and the pump doesn’t work. 

This story highlights the fact that I think many of us have taken our future into our own hands to protect ourselves. I have no doubt we will face future water shortages and restrictions. We have done what needed to be done but we may have left ourselves a little vulnerable when it comes to the law. 

This of course pre-supposes that someone will eventually turn up to check, which I do doubt. However, we are all at some stage going to be selling our current homes and this is where I believe we may run into problems. Having the correct compliance certificates is essential when selling a home. So once the current situation has stabilised, I would recommend that we all ensure we are up to code.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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