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Basement Rainwater Cistern, Questions
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Spence    Posted 08-15-2002 at 09:56:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Looks like we're in for a permanent atmosphere
change, with predictable temperatures reaching 6 degrees higher within the next century.

I was thinking of using rainwater for my toilet,clothswasher, and for general house use. I would re-pipe the house and place a "Y" connector to switch to the cistern in August when the well goes low. That part would work off the standard air tank and pump, not the bladder type. I run a granny suite off my house, which itself is the size of a bungalow. So I use a lot of water but I never had the well go dry even last year when we were in a panic situation.

I've got a cistern in my basement circa 1910. It's half filled with almost a century of dust,nails and anything else. And I doubt it would hold anything now anyway. It's only 200 gals anyway.

I'd like to build an outside rainwater cistern that will hold 800 or more gallons. What came to mind was using a plastic septic tank, but that would probably leave an aftertaste as it wasn't meant for potable water. Another is steel, but that would rust in time. There would be no guarantee that pored on the spot cement would hold over the years and of course the precast jobs might do.

The problem is I need to put the top part below frost 4ft, so it's gotta go deep and so does the
entry pipe for the water. That means I have to punch a hole in my basement wall 4ft down from the top to let in the pipe and I don't like that idea.

Another is I'd have to dig a ditch to my down hill part of my property as the overfill pipe would also have to be under the frost line. I can also put it down to my foundation footing drain, but that would give extra work for my sump pump.
But I guess that's the best setup.

As you can see, I'm trying to avoid putting anything in my basement which is already too small because of the ancient cistern. Anyway I'd have to break a basement wall to get the tanks in.

I've heard of plastic inserts, but am afraid of tearing and anyway there would not be enough water for our modern usage.

Another thought was making it drinkable. I know it already is, but what is the best way to treat rain water to make it more potable. Rainwater differs from that of the past as now it's full of sulphur and other nasties. Would a Rainfresh super filter work, you know, the one that costs a fortune but takes everything out?


Okie-Dokie    Posted 08-15-2002 at 17:12:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You might want to pick up a copy of the current Countryside and Small Stock Journal. They have an interesting story on roof-top water collection. Excellent story with good pictures of just what you are proposing, along with the details of filtering roof top run off and how to make it potable.

DaveN    Posted 08-15-2002 at 16:50:26       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I don't think I'd want to drink anything that came off my roof even if it was filtered 50 times...why don't you just have another well dug and use it as a backup..


ol Henry    Posted 08-15-2002 at 13:02:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
The first thing I would do is clean out that old cistern and get them old bottles and other artifacts, you may get enough to pay for your project.(just kidding) 200 gal sounds pretty small for a cistern even back then, if you cleaned it out you may find that it's a lot larger than you think.
But on the other hand it could have been a sump hole to catch water that got in the basement when it rained.
The acid rain wouldn't bother me near as much as the bugs, worms, toads, and other creatures that seem to find their way into a cistern.
when I was small it was my job to clean ours out because I was easy to let down on a rope, you would be surprised what you can find down there.
If I was going to build one I would think it should hold about 1500 gal. that should get you through a month or so or untill the next rain.
Also you need a way to keep the water from going in the cistern untill the roof has been washed off a little bit, to keep the bird droppings and leaves out.
Good luck

Spence    Posted 08-15-2002 at 14:45:45       [Reply]  [No Email]
That's right, never figured on the droppings. Maybe a strainer would help. That's why I was hoping on a filter system that would remove bacteria and at the same remove the industrial chemicals.

kathryn gable    Posted 07-03-2005 at 15:05:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
i have a cistern behind my back porch and want to remove this. it was installed before the town had city water. this shallow cistern was supplied with water from a wet weather spring. water has seeped into the basement when it rains. i assume this must be happening because when the old plumbing was installed they ran the line to the house though the base ment and now this is capped.

Um...    Posted 08-15-2002 at 12:47:38       [Reply]  [Send Email]
If you are going to only use the water in the cistern in the summer, why would you have to bury it past the frost line?
You saying that you are planning on leaving water in it all winter? Why not just pump it dry and be done.
The downspouts on my house come to a single inlet to the under-house 1000 gallon cement cistern. Where they come together, there is a 'switch' to throw in order to channel the water to the outside when the cistern is full or when you want to keep the cistern empty.

I would get myself a 1000 gallon poly tank that is commonly used in the maple sugar industry, partially bury it, plumb it in with the Y like you were thinking and run the downspouts with a switch in the top. When the weather turns for the winter just pump it empty and clean with a chlorine solution and seal it till next year.

Just a thought...

Spence    Posted 08-15-2002 at 14:53:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
because it takes most of the fall season to have a well replenish itself if it goes dry.

I'd want to use it year round. I'd want a tank that had a manhole size bolt down top trapdoor. It'd have a rubber seal to stop surface runoff.

all around the door I'd have a 3ft diam. by 4ft high pipe like one of those ladder type cement jobbies the city maintenance crew uses to access the underground sewers.

The poly tank sounds good I'm going to check out the 1500 gal ones out this weekend. It has to be strong enough to hold back the earth when empty.

DeadCarp - above-ground    Posted 08-15-2002 at 19:34:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
They have fire codes out west, where well-users are required to provide fire access to like 1000 gals of water - anyway, alot of water tanks are above-ground block tanks, real simple, and they provide water for everything. The fire-department valve/spigot is installed at the bottom and the house tap is a couple feet higher. They just level a 16-foot circle, pour a cement floor, wet-set the bottom course of cement blocks and lay them like 4 feet high and make a round tank. When the mud cures, they seal the inside by brooming on a layer of cold process, build a wood cover and it's done. Any little leaks fill with minerals and reseal themselves.

Spence    Posted 08-16-2002 at 08:47:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds good. That's a heck of alot of water.

Well DC, if I tried that here, i'd have a 16ft block of ice in February!!!! hee,hee.

That's why I gotta go under, but your right, same principle applies. I'd surround it with 3ft of sand all around because they say rock percolation still occurs even though we can't see it. Any boulder a foot from the tank makes it to the side in 15 years. The frost has a way of bringing everything up to the surface.

They say the weather hasn't been like this even in the dust bole 30's. Nature's shifting the parallels down one in this century. By 3080, NY will be at the equator, Ha. I'm thinking of going up to the next parallel. Hope the polar bears have the same idea.! The soil should be all virgin as hardly no one has settled up there, but I imagine it's a lot of acid soils from conifer forests and all that. A guy would need a dozer to clear the forests. What the heck, I can always go prospectin if it doesn't work out.

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