Sometimes It Doesn’t Work

It’s totally ok to fail. That’s how creativity works. You try and fail a few times, then succeed. Sometimes in between there is meditation or thinkage. Sometimes there is booze.

My super low-flow sink has really exceeded expectations overall. It is quiet, easy to use, provides water for dish and hand washing multiple times per day, and makes 3 gallons of water last literally for weeks. The only problem? The water jug has to be on its side with the hole at the bottom for it to work. If any of the four or five fixtures where the plumbing comes out leaked, I’d have quite a flood on my hands!20170418_150226.jpg

I though I’d use the model of a hand soap dispenser, with some kind of straw that goes down into the jug from above, allowing it to be upright, solving the problem. Here’s what I tried.

This is where I started. There is a section of transparent hose connecting the 12VDC windshield washer pump to a brass fixture that screws into the normal hole on a Reliant 5 gallon jug cap. This is what it looks like hooked up.


The fat hose looks just about big enough to plug the hole by itself, so why not completely remove the adapter and just run the hose all the way to the pump, like this?



It wasn’t perfectly air tight, but probably mosquito tight, and it eliminates a lot of the extra hardware and makes an already frugal design even cheaper. However, it doesn’t work. Why? The hose going down is *way* bigger than the hose going up, and this pump is designed to be installed at the very bottom of the washer reservoir in a car, just like I had it to start. Not only is it not strong enough to pull the water up through this huge hose, but it will also burn out very fast if it doesn’t have water flowing through it to cool it down. More than a couple seconds of air and it’s toast!

But what if the input hose were smaller, just like the output hose? The suction might be good enough20170418_144647.jpg20170418_145832.jpg then. I used some sandpaper and a drill to make this wine cork into an adapter for the smaller hose, which you can’t see sticking out the bottom of the cork into the jug. At first, it didn’t work, but when I primed it by filling the smaller tube with water, it did work! At least briefly. However, once I stopped pumping, the water drained back out of the tube, and the pump once again wasn’t strong enough to pull it up. Drat!

So, at the end of the day, I’m back where I started. One simple solution might be to put both the clean and dirty water jugs into a larger tub that can hold the water if it leaks. This is made harder by the fact that, at least with my current setup, they’re not the same height at all. I could also use a  more powerful pump, or  a submersible pump. Both would be more expensive, but might also be more quiet.  For now the old design works.

In the meantime, meditation, thinkage, and booze.



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4 Responses to Sometimes It Doesn’t Work

  1. Dale Barnard says:

    Why not get a small RV on-demand 12V pump?

  2. Scott Mauer says:

    Hi Dale! Good to see you on here. The RV pump is a good idea. I never even tried it because the setup I have works so well so far. I’m assuming they’re more powerful and aren’t as easy to damage during the uptake phase before the water reaches the pump? A small fountain pump might also work.

    • Dale Barnard says:

      They probably prefer to always be primed, so I’m not sure about running them dry. A few turns to get it going is certainly fine. I think that they have rubber impellers, which need to stay wet to not crack and break, but I’m not sure if that’s true of all of them. The on-demand means that if the pressure drops, the pump turns on, so you just connect it to a water valve of some sort rather than needing an electric switch, and you can control the pressure better.

      • Scott Mauer says:

        I needed a setup for my van conversion, so I got an RV one like you described. My main concern is that it might provide *too* much pressure, but we’ll see. The rest of the features sound pretty good, and it was only about twice as much as an automotive windshield washer pump.

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