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Thread: utility sink / pain cleanup questions

  1. #1
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    utility sink / pain cleanup questions

    As my barn is not connected to water/sewer, I have a utility sink in my shop that is gravity fed by a 50 gallon tank, and then drains to a 5 gallon bucket.

    Upon calling my township asking how they would like me to dispose of rinse water for cleanup of water-based finishes their reply was to just bring the 5 gallon bucket into the house and dump down the drain.

    I guess most just wash brushes and spray gear in a sink connected to sewer anyways, but seeing what's in the 5 gal bucket gives me pause (a lot more paint goes down the drain than I'd realized!) and makes me want a better way. While I'm small volume, and following a township directed approach, I'd like to save a bit of this from the environment.

    Note: I do know that some folks will dehydrate their cleanup water and throw the solids in the trash. This just isn't realistic in my opinion - takes way too long to evaporate 5 gallons each time.

    In addition to pre-scraping/combing as much finish off of gear prior to washing, I was thinking that perhaps there's some sort of colander / strainer that can be used during cleaning to catch some material before it goes down the drain.

    So, the question is... Do you know if the strainer idea has merit, and do you have experience with a specific product that would be a good option?

    Or, do you have other ideas on how to reduce the amount of water-based paint spoils that go into the water treatment center?
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
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    I decant all of our waste/washout in the shop that I can, I dont wait for the water to evaporate off I just wash out in a bucket or container and then usually by the next day the bulk of the solids have settled to the bottom of the container, I pour off the top carefully leaving the sludge in the bottom and set it off to dry and put it in the dumpster.

    Solvents I decant a bit differently, I have a few solar iced tea glass containers that have the spigot in the side about a half inch off the bottom of the glass jar. I pour the solvent in, allow it to decant, then I use the spigot to gently reclaim the semi-clear solvent in the top of the container. Its not like its dead clean solvent that I would use to thin finish again but it can be used for a lot of other things.

    A big part of your solution (for me here) may be to come up with all the practices possible to reclaim as much of the material you can before it ever makes it to the sink. Tough to do washing out brushes and stuff but I setup a PPS gun for a lot of small work that results in as close to zero waste of material and mere ounces of cleanup/rinse material whether its solvent or water. Using pressure pots for larger batches of work I can usually get completely clean, lines and all, with less than 1/2 gallon of material and then run gun cleaner that again gets decanted and re-used (poured through a cloth filter).

    Im of the same mindset as you, while I know I can rinse a quart of latex paint down the sewer our out on the sidewalk, I'd #1 rather keep that paint in the pail because I paid for it, and #2 keep it out of the sewer treatment process if I can.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  3. #3
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    I don't believe there is any kind of toxicity issue with the gray water you're producing by washing your gear in that sink. I clean my gun and brushes in my kitchen sink using hot water, but with the strainer in to collect any solid products which go in the normal trash. If you're uncomfortable with putting it in the sewer system, you can certainly strain out the solids and dump the water outside. Or whatever.
    --

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  4. #4
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    My understanding is that while toxicity of water based finishes is much lower it’s not zero, so worth reducing if possible.

    I’m thinking a colander outfitted with a “filter” made from scraps of thin septic fabric that I’ve had laying around for years.

    I also like Mark’s idea on the tea jar concept. Could probably build a 5 gal version
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  5. #5
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    In construction/GC for the bulk of my adult life. Ive rinsed more than my fair share of finish/paint in people lawns, sinks, driveways, and so on and for me personally its just something Ive never felt comfortable with or been happy doing but it is what it is. And no, its no good for the planet and would be far better dealt with in a treatment process, sewer system, or better yet let to dry and put in a lined landfill. I do it just for the sake of being responsible but honestly when you get very aggressive at not letting the bulk of the material make it to the sink in the first place you really see how much money/material your saving.

    Its long driven me nuts when people use disposable roller covers and brushes because they are too lazy to wash them out. We have always used a 5 in 1 and you can scrape nearly an entire average room of cut-in paint out of a 3/8" nap roller cover at the end of the job and after a good scraping it takes just a few minutes and not a lot of soap and water to wash out the cover. I have covers that are years and years old. Same with brushes. All of which didnt wind up in the landfill along with the paint that was scraped out of them before they were cleaned.

    Cleaning spray gear done wisely can be the same. You can save a ton of product. Keep a rubber spatula handy. Scrape out the insde of your cups before they go to wash, on and on. Less is always better. Financially and environmentally.
    Last edited by Mark Bolton; 03-21-2020 at 3:12 PM.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  6. #6
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    Great tips Mark! Totally agree and trying to head in that direction more and more
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  7. #7
    I NEVER use soap and water to wash out latex paint. Instead use a little fabric softener with water in an empty paint can. Swish the brush / roller in solution and then rinse. The paint will form a curd on top of mixture which can be scraped of. I used to do a lot of replacement siding, all of which had end cuts primed, and face and ends first coated while on the bench. This meant some days, I would rinse brush out many times.

  8. #8
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    How about this: get a container of whatever size you think is appropriate, put some drain holes in the bottom, and fill part way with sand and a layer of coarse cloth at bottom. Dump the dirty water into it and catch the drainage. When it clogs up, scrape the top layer off and dispose. Replace when necessary.

    If the stuff you're trying to catch is large enough, maybe an old window screen would be enough to filter it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Wrenn View Post
    I NEVER use soap and water to wash out latex paint. Instead use a little fabric softener with water in an empty paint can. Swish the brush / roller in solution and then rinse. The paint will form a curd on top of mixture which can be scraped of. I used to do a lot of replacement siding, all of which had end cuts primed, and face and ends first coated while on the bench. This meant some days, I would rinse brush out many times.
    I'm giving this a go for sure. Thanks a bunch for the tip.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Riefer View Post
    As my barn is not connected to water/sewer, I have a utility sink in my shop that is gravity fed by a 50 gallon tank, and then drains to a 5 gallon bucket.

    Upon calling my township asking how they would like me to dispose of rinse water for cleanup of water-based finishes their reply was to just bring the 5 gallon bucket into the house and dump down the drain.
    Unfortunately township officials are not always the best source for information regarding sewer or septic systems. I speak from experience. My leach field failed after 40+ years due to infiltration of the surrounding clay soil into the weeping gravel. They advised me to just rent a backhoe and build my own leach field, which would have been illegal as all septic system repairs have to be permitted and inspected.

    If it is just latex paint, let it settle out and then decant the water off the top. Let the residue evaporate and dump the dried paint in the landfill.
    Lee Schierer
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  11. #11
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    First, I just noticed that my thread title says "pain" instead of "paint"... I think I was subconsciously venting about paint cleanup being a pain in the butt.

    Agree that township officials aren't knowledgeable on this topic. The full story is that after initial conversations with the township manager, it became immediately obvious that they weren't going to be able to help in a meaningful way. They passed me on to a guy who was literally the "sewer manager" if I recall, and I also spoke with the county's hazardous waste disposal coordinator (say that 5 times fast). Literally, none of them cared at all about this topic.

    Next, I started googling... where you can almost always prove AND disprove any notion you are considering. LOL. Many points of view were "Mehhhh, who cares, latex paint (and similar) are no big deal... wash in your lawn and call it a day". Many others were taking the topic more seriously.

    I figure I'm netting out on the side of the spectrum that it's not too hard to take it more seriously, and it certainly doesn't cause harm to do so.

    I'm going to try the various ideas in this thread, and also my colander / filter fabric idea, to see if I can be efficient and also environmentally friendly
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  12. #12
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    Further to what you just wrote, waterborne finishes including latex paint are generally not going to be a concern for folks involved in sewage and waste processing when an individual like yourself approaches them...it would be a tiny amount anyway in that context. I bet their reaction would be different if you were going to be disposing of a tractor-trailer load of the stuff, however. I honestly don't think you'll be greatly endangering your environment if you strain out solids, etc. But I'm not a scientist or engineer...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    You could do the tea jar, decant the water off the top, and then use the stuff from the BORG that solidifies latex paint when it's mixed in. Don't remember the name of the stuff but it turns the paint into a solid then you can throw it in the trash.

    I don't think you'd want it to go into a municipal water treatment plant. I could refer you to horror stories of what can happen when the wrong chemicals go to the WWTP and don't get filtered out.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  14. #14
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    That stuff that solidifies latex paint is wood dust(old term was saw dust) or chips from jointer. Just mix and let sit for day or less then toss in trash.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Coates View Post
    That stuff that solidifies latex paint is wood dust(old term was saw dust) or chips from jointer. Just mix and let sit for day or less then toss in trash.
    Really? If yes, that’s great as we all have lots of that. Seriously curious - is it as simple as tossing saw dust into the bucket?
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

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