DIY 5 Gallon Bucket Sand Filter

As part of my greywater 2.0 update, I wanted to add some minimal level of filtration of the water being captured from my sump pit in an effort to lessen the amount of fine clay sediment that ends up in the catchment barrels and subsequently in the rest of the pressure system as well as the toilet tanks. Since commercially available filters this large are prohibitively priced, I tried a variation of several designs I found with a google search.

First off you’ll need a suitable vessel. Any old 5 gallon bucket will do here. Below is that along with a 1-1/2″ DIY bulkhead fitting which I drilled some drain holes in the female half of and a 1-1/2 PVC plug to sit atop that inside fitting to prevent the gravel / filter media from falling through. Eventually a short stub of 1-1/2″ tubing will be glued in the portion on the outside of the bucket, and will direct the output into one of my catchment barrel’s 2″ bungs.

Bucket and Outlet

Now we need to fill the bucket to the level of the outlet with washed gravel to form a semi-smooth shape for the filter media to sit on.

Gravel Drain Base

Next I cut a piece of landscaping mesh to hold the sand – 3′ x 3′ is about right, and pour a small pile of sand in the middle. The sand will help get the mesh centered in the bucket.

Sand on Mesh

Now gather the edges of the mesh together into a “flower” shape and put it on top of the gravel. A few clothespins or spring clamps will keep it in place as the rest of the sand is added. I’m still experimenting with how much sand to use, initially I’m filling the bucket approximately to the halfway mark. I also put a few pieces of larger stones or chunks of concrete on top of the sand to help prevent the inlet water from eroding a hole in the sand.

Sand & Stones

Snap on the lid and trim off the excess mesh. A looser fitting lid such as one from a dry laundry detergent bucket is desirable here.

Lid on Filter

Monday, Dec 2:
After testing it became apparent that flow through the sand media and landscaping mesh was far too slow for the sump output. After consulting someone else who’s experienced this, I decided to remove the sand and instead use two layers of filter media topped off with 3″ of pea gravel. Flow is greatly improved, so I will revisit this issue in the near future to see how well this setup controls sediment.

Filter Media

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