Thursday, April 03, 2014

Go With The Flow

Since I get a number of people questioning me about the water system for my house and since somebody gave me the word 'water' for the old word posts, I thought I'd kill a number of birds with one stone and do a big post on my whole system.  I may have shown all this before but it was not totally completed and would have been a long time ago, so here is the final, completed system.  I also wanted to address one other thing.  Several people (not here) have inquired or hinted that maybe my recent health problems were due to the fact that I do not use city water.
Well, 1.  I've had my water tested 3 times, once before ever even starting to build, and the results always come back fine.  I always kinda laugh when I remember taking the first batch down to the county to have them test it and all the people in the office were passing the bottle around, marveling over the cold, clear spring water.  They were very curious about where I got such fine looking water.  And yes, I know how it looks doesn't matter, I just thought it was kinda funny.  They were also amazed to know it was a spring rather than a well, although this county is eat up with natural, artesian springs.  Anyway, my water filters down through the mountain behind my house and bubbles up through some cracks in the rock about 150 yards from the house.  In the photo above you can see the overflow from the cistern we built.  It has always overflowed like that and in fact, it and yet another spring not far away form a small creek that eventually connects with my bigger creek along the driveway.  You can also see the copious amounts of watercress that grow in the little pool below the spring.  It's very good in salads and stuff.

 This is the cistern and the cover that Jack built for it to keep out leaves and ....critters.  Anyway.  2.  I've had the same health issues on and off for years before I ever moved here.  The second worse bout I had, just like what happened last year, was about 14 years ago and I was living in another town and on city water.  3.  Just in case, I've been tested for all kinds of bacteria and crud such as toxoplasmosis, cryptococcal infection etc etc.  and it all comes back negative.

The water is fairly clear, although we do filter it extensively, and maintains a good level of 4 or 5 feet all the time.  If you look carefully behind the pipe you can see the huge rock a couple of feet down that I had to form the shelf over to lay block on.  Now, I know most people would think that is not near deep enough but we have never been able to overcome the flow no matter how much water we run.  In the beginning I actually tried to outrun it by watering the garden, washing my truck and various things all at the same time but it always recovered quickly.  I think I estimated one time long ago that it produces something like 5 gallons a minute.  And again, that may not sound like much but it works; we always have water.  There is one thing that can overrun it though and that is the big, gas powered trash pump but that's okay.  Sometimes that comes in handy. 

This is the cute little pump house, that still isn't finished, and that sits about halfway between the house and the spring.  It is also partially underground with concrete walls so that helps insulate it.  We first tried installing the pump in the basement of the house but then determined that the pump just was not strong enough to pull the water uphill that distance and also over the hill that is between the spring and the house.  So, we shot some grade and determined the best place was right at the apex of the hill.  Once it tops the hill, the pressure tank is basically pushing the water towards the house at that point. Just as well.  The pump is not noisy but it does make a little racket and I'd rather have that away from the house. 

Here is the pressure tank and the pump in the lower right corner.  The pump is a Goulds and I highly recommend them.  This thing is a workhorse.  Knock on wood.  You long time readers may remember way back I had some issues with the water system for awhile there.  A pipe busted and I don't remember what all.  I do remember being terrified after finding these things that the pump had burnt up.  Nope.  Hooked everything back up and that thing just keeps on chugging.  The pressure tank is a WellSaver and I'm very pleased with it also.  I bought one of the largest they make so that the pump would not need to actually run that much.  I think this is the 86 gallon version although it could be over 100.  At any rate, with this size, and the way we use water, the pump might only come on 2 or 3 times a day and it takes it about 5-7 minutes to fill it back up.  With the way the pump house is separate and all it would be very possible to have all this run off solar power, which I would really, really like to do.  But...that takes some money.  Maybe one day.

Once the water enters the house it splits and one line goes towards the garden.  The other line runs through this point of entry filter that uses zeolite as the filtering medium.  Most water treatment plants also use zeolite.  Someone was once aghast that I had to use such a filter and it must be because the water was so bad.  No.  This county is full of natural springs but it's also full of sandstone, which is easily degraded by flowing water.  To keep the sand out of my water supply, and thus out of my washing machine and other parts that it would wreak havoc on, I use this filter.  Also, as I have shown before, most of the top 3/4 of Alabama is heavily laden with iron ore and all that water running through red sandstone can give the water a reddish tinge, mostly after a very heavy rainfall.

Which leads us to the final filter.  This is one of those fancy-smancy carbon/ something filters and basically it filters the water crystal clear.  It currently resides down in the basement and we fill up large containers to use for drinking and cooking water.  And yes, I know....why not just install this on the kitchen sink??  Well, I can't stand crap on my kitchen counters, finished or not, and I especially can't stand that stupid rubber line that has to go to the faucet head so I'm not looking at that mess in my kitchen or mucking up my nice, new kitchen faucet.  When I finally finish the kitchen counter tops and permanently install the sink and all we will install an under-the-counter version of this.  Yes, I know I'm kinda weird but ya'll should know that too by now.

Now, that may seem like a lot of trouble to some folks.  Or, they just don't feel right about not having city water.  You know, water that comes out of the ground is ...nasty.  (like it all doesn't at some point) Well, I look at it like this.  With all the prescription drugs, chemicals, pesticides and God only knows what else that people wash down their drains, that have been proven to show up in other people's drinking water, I think I'll take my chances.  Plus, there have been numerous times when everybody around me has had their water cut off for long periods, due to the county working on repairs etc., and I still had water.  I had just rather be able to control my water rather than someone else.  And yes, if my power goes out so does the pump but that is one thing Big Red is for and he has done a fine job.
So, there you have it.  Yes, it was a major pain in the ass at times and probably the only thing on this house that actually caused me to shed tears but it works great now and I'm happy with it.


Ed said...

If I had to chose between a spring and the river my water comes out of now, I would opt for the spring!

At our last house, we had a reverse osmosis filter as the last step for drinking water. It went through replaceable carbon filters and into a small version of the pressure tank you have in your pump house and then ran to the ice maker on the fridge and to a tap next to the kitchen faucet. You could keep everything down in the basement and not have anything under on on top of the counter. It worked pretty slick, though I had to get a special low pressure gauge to pressurize the tank when I changed the filter. I think it required between 6 and 8 psi to work right and a tire gauge just couldn't get down to that range accurately enough.

edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! When I first started building I did a bit of research on all kind of filtration methods and especially the reverse osmosis. I can't remember exactly why I did not go that way but I think it had some to do with initial costs and maybe it reduces my water pressure too much. Not sure. Anyway, that was several years ago and costs and complications might be better by now. At any rate, what I have now works fine, and i think an undercounter filter would be fine but I may look back into such things before it's completed.