How do we rig up a sink in a room with no running water?
January 11, 2011 12:18 PM   Subscribe

How can I rig up a sink in a room without running water?

So we have two rooms connected by a door, A and B. B has a bathroom. A needs a sink. How can we make this happen?

Worst case scenario involves running a hose from the sink in B's bathroom into something in A. Best case scenario might involve tanks of water and a the magic of gravity or some sort of pump. The water that comes out of A's sink doesn't need to be fancy - it's going to be used for things like washing dishes and paintbrushes. The door to A is about 20-30 feet from B's bathroom, and the sink can be put just about anywhere in A, although we'd love to be a little flexible.

Whether we need to fill it up all of the time or build a huge crazy contraption or whatever, all ideas are welcome!
posted by soma lkzx to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Unless you want to end up here, the correct answer is "Call a plumber." Considering that water damage is 1) incredibly expensive, and 2) frequently excluded from homeowner's policies, doing this wrong has the potential to be way, way more expensive than doing it right.
posted by valkyryn at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2011 [6 favorites]

Getting water to the sink is easy relatively. Getting it out is hard without having to schlup it out in a bucket.

I'd use two buckets and just go with that.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:23 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could buy a portable sink. [note: I'm not vouching for that vendor, it was just the first one I found with examples of portable sinks]
posted by amyms at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2011

Listen to Valkyryn. You are asking for trouble.
posted by jon1270 at 12:33 PM on January 11, 2011

Do you rent or own?
posted by adamrice at 12:36 PM on January 11, 2011

One solution I know of:

- suspend a large container of water above the sink (water cooler size)
- the sink drains into another empty bottle below (same size)
- when the bottom bottle is full, haul it somewhere and dump it.
- when top bottle is empty, refill it
posted by SNACKeR at 12:51 PM on January 11, 2011

20' - 30' run through a hose indoors sounds like it would not work out well. The hose will sag and water will pool at the low point. Also you're going to have condensation on the outside of the hose and the possibility of a break at either end.

No, this sounds like something you'd want to use pipe for instead.
posted by zippy at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2011

If you were renting from me and I found out you were doing this I'd evict you immediately. And I'd have grounds to. Keep that in mind when "rigging" up plumbing.
posted by fshgrl at 1:36 PM on January 11, 2011

Well it will certainly be incredibly expensive if you have a plumber do it, that’s for sure.
Or if you do something incredibly stupid. Of course you wouldn’t do that.

To start you could run flex tubing T’d off the hot and cold supply line under the working sink to the new one. You’d have to protect the line or secure it somehow. The hard part as mentioned is the drain. If you’re on the first floor it might not be so bad, you can drop into the basement with a drain and tie into a line down there or dump into a utility sink if there.

If not on the first floor good luck getting into an existing drain. The easiest way would be to pump it back into the existing sink. They make pumps for utility sinks in basements that are below the level of drain lines. Probably not very expensive. Or you could put a large tub (like the black plastic ones they use to mix cement in, very cheap) under your new sink with a long plastic extension from sink drain into the tub. Then you could put a cheap sump pump with a float that discharges with a garden hose, and go back the sink A with that.

You may not think you’re handy enough to do this, and judging from the way you’re posing the question it doesn’t sound like you have a lot of experience. But joining tubing with flex fittings is pretty easy now days and hey, you gotta start somewhere. But even something rigged up like this; think sink, tubing, fittings and pump will probably cost close to $200 if not more. And of course you’re going to need some tools, but that’s the way I started my collection, one job at a time. If you’re in a house you’ll be able to reuse most of the materials at some point.

I don't see how water pooling in a low part of the hose would be problematic, hey that gives you trap so you'd be up to code. And a plastic hose in a heated space won't sweat like a copper pipe in a basement does.
posted by PaulBGoode at 2:00 PM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: I guess I didn't stress the temporariness and small scale of this enough - a few gallons of water total would be enough. bitdamaged's "use two buckets" is much closer to the scale we're going for; we just need the water to actually be somewhat running and at waist level instead of sitting in a bucket on the ground.
posted by soma lkzx at 2:03 PM on January 11, 2011

I've seen a sink basin/countertop constructed with a hose leading outside for a drain, and a five gallon water container on the countertop. Turning the tap is less convenient than a faucet, but dishes can be washed under a trickle of water.

I've only seen it out in the middle of nowhere in cabins where all the water had to be hauled in, and once in a house where the well pump had broken (the drain went to the sewer connection there). If there's a sink nearby, it's much simpler to walk over to it than be filling jugs and dumping buckets. Plus, you get your choice of hot or cold running water.

Best case scenario might involve tanks of water and a the magic of gravity

The fact that you have had to ask how to set up a jerryrigged plumbing system makes me think that it's probably a bad idea for you to set up anything complicated that would lead to water going everywhere if something breaks.

The best solution would be to install another sink in the usual way such things are done, involving plumbing that has valves and drains and traps and taps and other such good things. That you have not considered this makes me think you have a landlord, and your landlord is going to be rather unhappy with you.

You might see if your landlord would install such a thing if you paid for it, it might be cheaper than being evicted.
posted by yohko at 2:12 PM on January 11, 2011

I guess I didn't stress the temporariness and small scale of this enough

(Well then. There's me not previewing)

Build sink and counter on legs to hold them at proper height. Hose to drain bucket, should be considerably larger than your fresh water container. Five gallon water jug, the kind with a tap. Set on side so tap is over sink.

You could also buy a portable sink, I've never seen a consumer model in person because all of my friends who don't have running water don't have the money for such things.

If you want to get fancy portapotty rental places will have portable sinks, but they tend to be bulky.
posted by yohko at 2:20 PM on January 11, 2011

I guess I didn't stress the temporariness and small scale of this enough - a few gallons of water total would be enough... we just need the water to actually be somewhat running and at waist level instead of sitting in a bucket on the ground.

That's exactly what portable (i.e. self-contained) sink systems are. Here's one that's the height of a normal countertop sink, with running water. It even has hot water.
posted by amyms at 2:28 PM on January 11, 2011

See this photo and this photo for how people I knew did something similar.

Of course the second one drains straight into the ground, but since you are inside, you can just have it drain into another container or bowl and pour that out when it gets full.
posted by lollusc at 2:47 PM on January 11, 2011

My Dad built something like this for my boyfriend, who needed something in his studio for washing paintbrushes. The portable sinks we saw were way too pricey.

We went to the junkyard and scavenged an RV-sized sink, faucet, and pump, plus the sink surround. Mounted that on a discarded cabinet. Pump runs off car battery (switch on cabinet to turn on pump when needed), feeds from 10 gallon jerrycan, dumps into 10 gallon waste jerrycan.

Works like a charm.
posted by HopperFan at 4:15 PM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: Looks like it's more trouble than it's worth, so for now we're just ferrying everything back and forth. Somewhat painful, but the best solutions seem to cost a decent chunk of change!
posted by soma lkzx at 1:53 PM on February 11, 2011

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