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, 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 to do. 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.
The 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. 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. 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).
How to Attach a Rain Barrel to Your Sump Pump
I’ll get into the dry well in another post, but if you’re curious how to divert sump pump run off into a rain barrel, here’s how we did it:
- 1.5” PVC pipe
- 1.5” PVC elbows
- 1.5” PVC valves
- PVC Cement
- Pipe straps
- PVC flange
- Rain Barrel (I used this one because it already had a hose for overflow, a hose for actually using the water, and had the best ratings)
- 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 didn’t need to make any cuts into the house. We did, however, have to use a 2” 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 “on” while the dry well was turned “off”
- 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 “spout” 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.
- 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 you’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. It’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.