Harvesting Rainwater—Part Three

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

(If you missed parts one and two you can read part one here and part two here.)

It was hard to see in the photo in my last post but in the middle of the piping connecting the two tanks together I ran a 1/2” pipe up into the crawl space under the house.  This will be connected to the water pump. But, before any water can be pumped out it has to be “harvested” and put into the tanks.

I had put rain gutters on both the front and back of the house a few years ago and was capturing some of the rainwater in a couple of poly tanks that I had placed under the back deck.  The only problem with these gutters were that they drained the water in the opposite direction from what I needed now.  So, I took down the gutters and reinstalled them, swapping them front to back and back to front.  This was due to the solid end and the end for attaching the drainpipe being opposite to what I now needed.

IMG_0102This photo shows the front of the house with the gutter reattached.  While I had the gutters down I put a coat of brown paint on the fascia.  The brown blends in with the brown of the gutters which were prepainted.

IMG_0103The water from off of the roof goes into the drainpipe which you can see in this picture goes into a vertical pipe.  This is made from 4” PVC sewer pipe.  It is hard to discern in the photo but at the bottom there is an elbow which has a screw-in plug.  Near the top you see another pipe that tees off to the right.  What is this all about?  That my friends is my roof washer!  The idea is that when it starts to rain the first few gallons of water that comes off of the roof will normally have dust, bird droppings, etc. in it.  The tall pipe will catch this first runoff with this material.  Once the pipe fills to the tee the much cleaner water will run on over into this second pipe.  You can see that this pipe runs into a black box.

IMG_0105Here is a close shot of the box.  It is a “drop box” normally used with drainage and septic installations.  I ran the pipe in near the top on the left side and have another pipe running out from near the bottom on the right side.  Inside, between the “in” and the “out” I have screening to catch what debris that isn’t caught by the guards I have on the gutters.

IMG_0106The water then is directed down along side of the house to the cistern tank.  This pipe is 3” PVC and it goes into a 4” pipe along the end of the tank, which goes into the tank.  The water from the backside of the house goes through a similar setup and is piped to this same point—all of the water entering the cistern tanks at this end.

IMG_0109This picture is of the roof washer and screening box at the back side of the house.  I have 3” PVC pipe running along side the house to the other end of the tanks, going into the same 4” pipe that enters into the tanks.  In the photo below you can see the 3” pipe attached to the side of the house.

IMG_0119With this all in place we have yet to take care of the overflow when the tanks are filled and the installation of the pump to get the water into the house.  That will be in the next installment.


Harvesting Rainwater—Part Two

>> Monday, August 22, 2011

(Harvesting Rainwater—Part One can be read here.)

The last photo in Part One was of the first concrete septic tank ready to be set off of the delivery truck. Here are a couple more photos of the tank being set.



Darryl is helping guide it into place.


The first tank is in place. You can see that it isn’t going to be underground at all. About two hours later the driver was back with tank number two and it was soon set into place as well.


Both tanks are set. Now the work begins getting them hooked up and ready to harvest rainwater. Since the tanks were designed to be used as septic tanks the inlet and outlet of each tank is on the ends and very near the top. Using them as cisterns we wanted to be able to hook them together in such a way that they would fill equally and also so that we could pump the water from near the bottom of the tanks. To accomplish this we rented a drill with a 3” core bit which has diamond teeth and drilled holes through the tanks. (We did these two and then Darryl’s three.) After drilling the holes we put 2” PVC pipe through the approximately 4” walls. They were sealed with silicone along with a Plexiglas plate on each side.


Pipe with valves, etc. connected these together. I built a box to protect all of this.

IMG_0094This photo shows all of the pipe and connections within the box—the lid is lifted and we are looking down into the box.

In Part Three we will continue the story of turning two septic tanks into a 3000 gallon cistern for harvesting and storing rainwater.


Harvesting Rainwater—Part One

>> Sunday, August 21, 2011






I have mentioned before that we live on top of a “ridge.”  To have a well one would have to drill very deep.  Down the hill, near where Darryl is building his house, there is a well but the water has a great deal of sulfur in it.  The local water company has run water lines throughout the county, bring public water to almost everyone.  We hooked onto the line coming onto the property when we moved here seven years ago.  However, we have wished we could do something to have our own water supply.  Having a cistern to hold rainwater captured from the house roof has been an option.  But, we just couldn’t figure out where to put one.  We put gutters on the house and did acquire some poly tanks to catch and hold a few hundred gallons of water, primarily to be used for watering the garden and the flower beds.

Darryl had determined that he was going to purchase some concrete septic tanks and use them for cisterns at his new house.  We had considered that as well, but as I said, we couldn’t figure out just where we would put them.  A few weeks ago, while discussing this again, it just came to me that they could be put right next to our house, between it and the driveway.  Since Darryl was ready to buy his tanks and get them set in it seemed the time was right for us to go ahead and get ours and get them all done at the same time.

So, we are putting in two tanks, each with a capacity of 1500 gallons.  When filled they will give us 3000 gallons or a bit more.  We have had to be ultra conservative of water in the past and will have to do so again.  Generally we get rains regularly enough that we shouldn’t have much of a problem but perhaps during the summer months we will need to exercise more care.

Here are a few photos of the cistern project.

IMG_0063 Due to rock right under the surface we were unable to dig down deep enough to set the tanks under ground.

IMG_0067In order to put the tanks as deep as possible I spent several hours busting out rock with a sledge hammer.

IMG_0069This photo shows some of the rock along with dirt removed from the hole we had dug.  The fellow used a small backhoe to dig the area out.  I finished it with sledge hammer, shovels, and a lot of labor.

IMG_0073This is as deep as it gets!  This was taken just prior to delivery of the first tank.

IMG_0074The first tank has arrived and is being prepared to be set into the hole.  We will continue with the story in part two.


How Long Is Forever?

>> Saturday, August 6, 2011

I know there are many answers to that question but I think the appropriate response for me would be “since I last posted!”  The last post is dated June 19th.  A lot has transpired since then.  I’ll try to give you a brief recap of what has been happening here on Cedar Ridge.

The last weekend in June we drove up to central Illinois to attend a annual family reunion.  Our oldest son left his daughter, Tana, with us to spend about a month.  We went from central Illinois on to Wisconsin to our daughter’s home for a short visit—we also got to meet our new great-grandson, Jason.

Upon our return home we were in the middle of blackberry season.  I had picked 4 gallon before we left and Darryl, Danny and the grandsons had been busy while we were gone.  Connie and Anne were canning blackberries, Danny was freezing blackberries.  And, we were all eating a lot of them fresh.  We lost track of exactly how many we picked but we know it was over 60 gallons.  That is a lot of berries, and I might add, scratches and chiggers.

July was mostly hot and dry.  Our garden suffered.  I watered some items but some things just had to be let go.  I got our garlic pulled and hung up to dry, our potatoes dug and also the onions harvested.  We have been getting a few tomatoes but our plants have been hit with some kind of fungus and it doesn’t appear that we will get a lot of tomatoes. 

Darryl and Anne got away for a couple of days—a late anniversary celebration.  We kept the grandkids and did the milking.  One afternoon we took Darryl’s four and Tana to the county lake fishing.  The pan fish were biting and several were caught.  Of course we had to keep almost all of them.  After cleaning 10 or 12 I decided we had enough for our “fish fry.”  Darryl and Anne got home before we were ready to eat so we invited them to join us.  The kids were all pretty excited about not only catching fish but in have “their” fish for supper.

July 19th was our 47th wedding anniversary.  We had talked about taking a couple of days and doing something special but with the hot days we decided to put that off.  So, we took Tana with us and went to Bowling Green where we visited several thrift shops and finished off the afternoon by going to Chaney’s Dairy Barn for some of their farm made ice cream.

That weekend our son, Mark, from Illinois came to spend a few days and take his daughter back home.  Our granddaughter, Beth, from Wisconsin drove to Mark’s home and she and her new son (our great-grandson) came as well.  We had a very enjoyable weekend.

In the last two weeks we started another big project which I’ll write about in another post.  Also, this last week I helped Darryl put up more hay and Connie and I canned 35 quarts of peaches.  We bought enough peaches so that we could share with Darryl’s and Danny and have quite a few to put into the refrigerator to eat fresh.

I’ll try to not take forever before posting again.


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