How to Make a Simple Dry Well
The basic idea behind making a simple dry well is to create a space where water cannot enter or leave. A good example would be when you are using your toilet. Water enters the bowl through the drain hole and exits through another opening.
If there was no way for water to exit, then it could cause damage to the bowl’s surface or even leak into other parts of the house.
A simple dry well is a small area of land where water does not accumulate. For instance, if you have a garden, you might have a patch of soil that is naturally damp. You can use this moisture to store rainwater for later use in your home or business.
This type of storage method works best with natural materials such as sand or silt because they will hold onto their moisture for long periods of time and are easily accessible from outside the property.
Another example of a simple dry well is when you are watering your lawn. When you water the grass, it contains water that has been stored inside the plant itself. If there were no way for this water to escape, then it could cause damage to the grass or even leach chemicals into nearby areas.
There are many different types of dry well systems available today. Some require little effort while others take some planning and money to construct properly.
If you want to conserve water, you may need to build a simple dry well. One option is to dig a trench around the perimeter of your property and fill it with gravel or dirt. Another option is to construct a concrete retaining wall around your yard and fill it with rock or crushed stone.
These methods will both save energy but require additional labor and money upfront.
Here are some ideas that you can use for your property:
– Create a dry well by placing wire fencing into the ground with the openings facing towards the area where you want the water to drain to. It will take some time, but eventually the water will collect below the fence. Make sure to place gravel or sand at the bottom of this area so that the fence does not become unstable.
The most basic dry well for small businesses or homes can be made with a few simple steps. You will need to find a location that does not have any underground water or standing water, such as a clogged or stagnant drain. Dig a hole in this location at least twice the width and depth of a standard 5-gallon bucket.
Make sure the sides of the trench are sloped so that any water would run out of the hole.
– Use a method similar to how they designed baseball fields in the past. Excavate the area around your house and then place a layer of sand. Afterwards, create a drainage system using gravel.
Be sure to cover any drains or pipes that are already in the ground so water cannot enter them. After that, you will be able to collect the water in the sand layer.
– You can also use bricks or old tires to separate different layers in your dry well system. Now place the bucket inside the hole. The top of the bucket should be even with the ground around it.
Fill in the empty space around the bucket with sand, small rocks, or any other material that will hold the bucket in place and keep water from flowing into the bucket.
This type of dry well can only hold a small amount of water, but will prevent flooding if a large amount of water is poured into the bucket. Just be sure that you do not mix the different types of material, such as sand and rocks.
– You can also make a dry well from a 55-gallon drum. This method is effective when trying to conserve water since it can easily hold several gallons of rainwater. Just dig a hole deep enough to cover the majority of the drum.
Place plastic sheeting over the top and then use soil to seal any holes. You can also place a grate or screen over the bucket to filter out large debris that may fall into the bucket.
This is a simple method of capturing water in an emergency situation. Dig a hole that is wider than and twice the depth of a standard 5-gallon bucket. The depth of the hole should be at least 1 ½ times the height of the container placed inside it.
Next, cut out a small section of the drum and make sure that there is enough space to fill the barrel with a hose. You can use this water just like a normal faucet since the openings have been properly sealed.
By using these simple techniques, you can conserve water in your yard and garden. Be sure to check your system on a regular basis to make sure that the water has not evaporated or spilled out. The sloped sides will allow water to flow into the hole.
Make sure that the edges of the hole are below the water table.
– Check with your local building supply center for items such as “French drains” or “Sawyer collectors”. These are metal grates that can be placed over sections of a foundation. They are designed to let water through, but not soil or silt.
They are most commonly used in agricultural applications, but can be used in the home as well.
– For those that have a pool, you can use an attached dry well to hold water for your garden. The pump and filter system that creates the pool keeps the water fresh and clean, so this system is already in place. You may be able to run a line from the pump and filter system to a dry well for holding water.
The filter system keeps the water clean, and the well prevents the water from evaporating.
– You can create a simple rain barrel to catch rainfall. This is done by placing a 55-gallon drum on its side and cutting out the bottom third of the barrel. Place gutter spikes around the top edge and mount the drum over a gutter.
You may want to add some screening to keep debris from falling into the drum. A better solution is to mount the drum so that the bottom half of the barrel hangs over the edge of the roof. This will prevent animals and debris from getting into the water.
– Keep in mind that water in a rain barrel may not be suitable for drinking or garden use without treatment. Depending on where you live, there may be a risk of contamination from bird droppings, insects or other hazardous material falling into the barrel. In this case, it may be advisable to store the water for a period of time so that these materials can settle to the bottom.
You may also want to keep a few empty drums handy so that you can change out the water at regular intervals.
– Many rural gardeners collect water in old tires. The tires are easy to mount and hold water for a long period of time. In dry areas, rain catches on the tire and is slowly released over a long period of time.
You can also use a spigot at the bottom to drain the water. These are especially handy for gardens that require a large amount of water at certain times.
– When a storm drain runs near your garden, consider diverting the flow to your garden with a PVC pipe. This is an excellent way to collect water in a hurry. The average rainfall in most areas is more than enough to provide plenty of water for your plants.
When the flow slows, you can always open up the PVC pipe and drain the water into a holding container.
– If you have a pond, consider installing a pump and filter system that will pump water into your garden. These are readily available at most building supply centers.
– Most greenhouses are required to use a PT (pressure transducer) as part of their certification. A PT is a device that measures the amount of pressure (PSI) in the line and converts it into a voltage that can be read by a gauge. This helps to prevent overfilling of the water tanks.
These units can be hooked up to a drip system or used to fill buckets.
– Consider installing a grey water system. Grey water is wastewater that has been used for purposes other than drinking, such as washing clothes or bathing. This type of system saves water by recycling water that would otherwise be wasted.
– Another way to conserve water is to collect it when it falls from the sky. Rain barrels are a popular way of doing this. You can also use large trash cans or plastic livestock watering tanks.
– If you live in an arid area, catch and store winter rains in cisterns. Cisterns are large underground holding tanks that catch and store rainwater for future use.
– To make your own rain barrel, you need a 55-gallon drum and a downspout diverter kit from your local home center or hardware store. The diverter kit comes with a tube that connects the barrel and the downspout. When it rains, the water flows into the barrel rather than running down the downspout.
These systems work well as long as you keep an eye on them and clean them out once in awhile.
– Water storage tanks are useful for storing large quantities of water for future use. The average rain barrel only holds around 550 gallons of water. A 10’x12′ storage tank holds up to 10,800 gallons of water.
– Water tanks can be buried or partially buried for protection from the elements. They can also be placed on stands or built into the side of a hill to conserve space.
– Heavy duty plastic tanks are available from most farm supply stores. These tanks come in various lengths and widths. Most hold between 1200-6000 gallons of water.
– Before placing the tank, make sure there are no underground pipes, electrical lines or other potential hazards in the area of your selected tank location.
– Most tanks have a black plastic bottom and a colored top. The top should be a different color than your house so you don’t confuse them. Place the tank so the colored top is at the home end and the black plastic is in the back.
Mark the location of your water meter on the black plastic side. This will allow you to determine your water usage at different intervals and will help you determine how much water is actually left in the tank when it runs dry.
– There are several types of connectors that can be used to fill your water storage tank. The type you need will depend upon the type of faucets you have. The three most common types are slip, screw, and compression fittings.
– To connect a tank to a faucet with a slip fitting, all you do is remove the faucet from the hose bib and replace it with the black connector that came with the tank. No tools are required.
– To connect a tank to a faucet with a screw fitting, remove the faucet from the hose bib and replace it with the black connector that came with the tank. Then, using the correct size wrench, turn the connector until it is snug.
– To connect a tank to a faucet with a compression fitting, remove the faucet from the hose bib and replace it with the black connector that came with the tank. Then screw the connector onto the faucet until it is snug.
– Underground water pipes run from your house, out to your water meter, then about 100 feet further to your tank.
– The water pipes from the water meter to your tank should be large enough to handle all of the water needed. Any surplus water will just flow back into the ground.
– The pipes connecting your house to your water meter should be flexible, but they should NOT be thin and flimsy.
– The water pipes from the water meter to your tank should be larger than those going to your house, but they need not be as large as those from the water meter.
– Place the tank on solid, level ground. Uneven terrain will put strain on the underground pipes.
– Black plastic absorbs heat and should be placed away from your house. Other colors don’t matter.
– Make sure the tank is not exposed to radiant heat sources such as a furnace, woodstove or any other direct heat source.
– Underground water tanks come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular variety is the cone-bottom half barrel. You can also use a cylindrical tank, which comes in various lengths and diameters.
Whatever type you choose, it must be made of high quality polyethylene and be designed for potable water storage. Do not use rain barrels or any other type of container for water storage.
– Before placing the tank underground, give all joints a good coating of liquid pitch. This will help keep dirt from getting into the tank.
– Most underground water tanks have a drain valve on the bottom. If yours does, place it pointing downward when you bury the tank. If it doesn’t have a drain valve, you can place one in before you bury the tank.
Before installing the valve be sure to check with your local building inspector.
– Along with a drain valve, most tanks also come with an expansion bell. This is to allow the tank to expand and contract due to temperature changes. The bell should always be placed on the bottom of the tank.
It should also have a hole drilled in it to allow any water that it collects to drain out.
– Install a fill pipe that extends at least a foot above the highest expected water level.
– Don’t skimp on the concrete, use at least a four inch layer topped with gravel and sand. This is to keep the tank from shifting in an unpredictable manner and cracking the tank.
– After the concrete has cured for an entire month, check your tank for any cracks. If there are any hairline ones you can’t fix, get it replaced. After that, you can start loading it up with water.
If you live in an area where the water contains a lot of dissolved minerals, you may have to replace your tank every five to ten years.
If you want to be able to draw water from your tank using a pump instead of a bucket, there are several different types available. The most common is the submersible sump pump. These pumps require a separate hole for the electrical cord to go in, as well as a float switch and an outlet.
These can be bought in a kit from any hardware store.
You can also use a shallow well jet pump. This is the same type of pump that farmers use to draw water from wells that aren’t very deep. Again, you’ll need a separate hole for the electrical cord to go in, as well as a float switch and an outlet.
You may also need to buy a longer power cord or have an electrician wire it into your house’s electrical system.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Dry well forming receptacle (AR Taylor – US Patent 3,060,693, 1962 – Google Patents)
- Skimmer cover for dry well in a catch basin (WJ Sewell – US Patent 5,650,065, 1997 – Google Patents)
- Analysis of different containment models for IRIS small break LOCA, using GOTHIC and RELAP5 codes (D Papini, D Grgić, A Cammi, ME Ricotti – Nuclear engineering and design, 2011 – Elsevier)
- Evaluation of historical dry well surveillance logs (RK Price – 1996 – osti.gov)
- The Dry Well (M Barton – The Sewanee Review, 1995 – JSTOR)