Darkroom Drains

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by DavePEI, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Hi All:

    Following my find of darkroom equipment the other day, I am in the process of planning my basement darkroom. One of the major problems I will have, is the darkroom will be below the level of the drains, and I will have to use a gray water pump to pump the effluent up to the drains. Has anyone found a good inexpensive source of gray water pumps for sinks only?

    See: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/43927-followed-me-home-can-i-keep-take-2-a.html

    Other plumbing will be no problem - the chosen location has great access to hot and cold water lines. As the spot I have for the darkroom is small and narrow, I will have to keep it as compact as possible, but still want it to be functional.

    Thanks for any advice

    Dave
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2007
  2. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Try Home Depot, Lowes, or your favorite hardware or plumbing supply place. Sounds like what you need is a sump pump. These are not too expensive. Depending on size and features these can cost as little as $70. You won't need one that costs more than $150. See here: http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs...catalogId=10053&marketID=401&locStoreNum=8125. Follow the link and read the buying guide article near the bottom of the page.
     
  3. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Hi There:

    Not exactly. Actually the darkroom is located next to the basement sump, but a sump pump isn't designed to go directly into the drain plumbing as it can overwhelm a septic system. When a house is on a septic system, it is recommended that the sump drains into a dry well and not the drain system.

    What I need is something similar to the following:
    http://www.saniflo.com/products/sanishower.asp

    Which takes the drain from the sink, and pumps it upwards into the house drain system. Now, I do have the option of using the sump, but would have then to seal a watertight liner in it so that the chemical residue wouldn't drain down through the gravel base and get into the well located only about 15 feet away. So, it is better if I send it into the septic system where it will be dispersed over a large area around the septic field in an adjacent field (about 100 feet away from the well)...

    Ahh, the fun of living in the country!

    Dave
     
  4. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Dave,

    My sympathy! I had exactly the same problem a few months ago. My household waste-water drain exits the basement wall about three and one-half feet above the floor.

    Since plumbing is one thing I definitely won't try to do myself, the solution turned out to be expensive. A plumber spent much of one day making hot & cold connections to a couple of laundry tubs, installing water filtering, and, finally, hooking up a small sump to raise the waste water just a couple of feet to the existing drain. The only alternative would have been to run a long (about 30 feet) drain over to the existing basement sump. That would have meant an above-floor pipe to stumble over forever.

    It was an expensive proposition, but it does work like a charm. If you're more competent or braver than I, you could cut the cost a lot by doing your own plumbing.

    Konical
     
  5. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Hi Konical:

    Fortunately, once I have a suitable pump, I will be able to do the needed plumbing myself - I have done my own plumbing and electrical work for the past 30 years. But the pumps are expensive as you can see with the sanishower I mentioned.

    I can imagine having to have a plumber do it the cost would really have hurt big time!

    They do work well, though and would be the perfect solution, I think to the problem.

    Dave

     
  6. Wilbur Wong

    Wilbur Wong Member

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    Dave,

    What you need to install below your sink is a sump AND sump pump. The quick easy way is a prepackaged unit. This will include a sump which is a closed drum into which your sink will drain, an internal pump (120 volt) and effluent level switch, and a sewage line complete with a check valve which is needed so the head of water above the sump doesn't flow back into the sump when the power is no longer applied to the pump.

    The quickest way to do this is to buy a prepackaged unit. The most easily and possibly problematic way to get this is from Grainger's. It is easiest because they have a huge number of locations all over the US. It is possibly problematic because they will only sell to businesses such as licensed contractors and commercial companies. If you know someone who has account, they might be the way to go.

    Here's a link http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/ca...ng/sump-effluent-and-sewage/sink-pump-systems

    I am a general contractor building custom homes, and I have used a couple of much larger units than this for whole house systems. I suggest that you consider the Little Giant model because Graingers also list replacement parts for it. I have had to replace a complete unit in my dark room due to the lack of replacement parts. I think that some chemistry has a long term deleterious effect on these units. Maybe you should flush lots of fresh water through one after each dark room session.
     
  7. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Hi Wilbur:

    Basically the same as the Sanishower unit I mentioned above. Yes, I was thinking one would have to flush it thoroughly after each session:smile:

    Dave
     
  8. richard ide

    richard ide Member

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    Dave,
    You could try contacting Albany Pump Company in Newmarket, just outside Toronto ( 1 888 334 3348). I bought some small magnetic impeller pumps from them many years ago when I rebuilt a film processor. You could even do the plumbing with flexible vinyl tubing. A word of caution would be to set up your system so that the pump does not run dry. Either manual control or a float switch.
     
  9. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Dave -

    I have a similar situation in both my darkroom and my workshop. In both cases, I use a reservoir and an ordinary sump pump.

    In my previous darkroom, I used a 5 gallon plastic pail as a reservoir - that worked, but the diameter was such that the placement of the sump pump was very critical to avoid dragging the float on the side of the pail. Also, the water level at the point when the float switch turned on the pump was dangerously close to the top of the pail. When I built the darkroom in the new home, I looked for a container that was taller than a pail, and that had a larger footprint to provide ample room for the pump and float, and ended up with a large rectangular Rubbermaid plastic bin.

    In my workshop, I use a plastic laundry pail. Unlike the Rubbermaid bin this reservoir is round which means that I worry less about stress at the corners. It also has an open top, so I can more readily monitor the liquid level and take action if the float switch fails.

    In both cases, the outflow from the pump is plumbed into the waste system for the house using nylon reinforced hose. I installed a check valve at the point where the hose connects to the house drain to prevent backflow. I made sure to include a trap in the plumbing at the point of connection to block sewer gasses. In both cases, the connection point to the house drain is close to a vent so that I didn't have to worry about pressure equalization.

    Both pumps are supplied from electrical circuits with ground fault interrupters. The pump in my darkroom is about 10 years old at this point, and I've noticed that the GFI trips occasionally, so I suspect that the seal is starting to go and the pump may have to be replaced. But 10 years is a pretty good run.
     
  10. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I plumbed my darkroom with a grey water pump from Home Depot. I had one problem in the years since, the steel hose clamps holding the drain hose to the pump rusted away, so I replaced them all with large plastic tie wraps which should take a good while longer to disintegrate.
     
  11. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I agree with the comment of using a tub to serve as the sump. Any number of small submersible pumps designed for sumps should work. I'd want the tub as large as possible to provide a buffer for the pump.

    I'm more concerned about the chemicals you will be putting into the septic system. I'm in the same situation with a darkroom I'll be building in a lake home. It's been hard to find solid information. So for now I plan to dump the chemicals is a 3 to 5 gal container; then basically use the drain for washwater. (Of course, you'll need a place to properly dispose of the chemicals in the container.)

    We'll have a gravity system so no pump (yeah!) but minimizing the chemicals would help prolong the life of the pump in your situation.
     
  12. DavePEI

    DavePEI Member

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    Hi All:

    Well, I will keep looking for the best price possible for a grey water pump - it seems to be a better solution than a sump pump, requiring less water to start pumping than a standard sump.

    Meanwhile, I have more clearing to do in the area the darkroom is going in, and possible more to worry about when Hurrican Noel storms by tonight with 120 km/h winds and heavy rain. I may have a little more water than a sinkful to get rid of:rolleyes:

    Thanks,

    Dave
     
  13. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    There are two potential interpretations of this. One is that the chemicals could cause damage to the components of the drain - reservoir, pump and piping. My experience, based on using a system like this for more than 25 years, is that there is no problem. The vast majority of the liquid in the system is wash water, and given that level of dilution, the chemicals are simply too dilute to be able to do any harm to the plumbing components.

    The other concern is environmental. There has been a lot of discussion about this topic. Most chemicals from residential darkrooms are innocuous, but there could be concern with heavy metal contamination from exhausted fixer. There are a couple of ways of removing the silver in exhausted fixer - the electrolytic process involves a couple of electrodes and a source of dc - perhaps an old "wall wart" dc power supply or battery charger. The other is ion exchange - put the used fixer in a plastic container (I use a plastic box that originally held deck screws), drop in a bit of steel wool, and let it sit for a few days until the steel wood dissolves completely. The iron in the steel wool will displace the silver ions in the fixer, causing the steel wool to gradually dissolve, and the silver will precipitate out as sludge. Decant off the liquid and dump it down the drain - at that point, it is no more harmful than water from a well that contains a high level of iron. Let the sludge dry, and either dispose of it in the garbage, or save it in hopes that the price of silver goes up and it becomes valuable.

    The fact that you are thinking about a darkroom at a lake property raises another concern - there could be local regulations about waste disposal that have to do with the proximity to the lake and the potential impact on recreation. The major concern is likely for e-coli and other bacterial contamination. If you take the appropriate steps to address those concerns (which probably means locating the septic system a decent distance from the lake), then you probably won't need to do anything about darkroom waste other than deslivering your used fixer.