Homestead Water Security

By , August 16, 2010

Part of what made Friday a Perfect Day was learning that our homestead’s water supply is secure for the moment. We learned this by taking a long-overdue action.

winter water tank lid

The top of the tank, with intake pipe in place and outflow (the bubbler) removed (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

Our winter water tank is extremely well insulated, covered completely in a plywood box, surrounded by fiberglass and organic insulation. The box is topped with two large sheets of Thermax insulating foam board, then two full sheets of plywood, with a plastic tarp tacked down over all.

We’ve been loathe to mess with this arrangement. The previous owners built it; they told us how to blow into a faucet extending from one side. If we could hear bubbles, that meant the tank is full.

Last summer two couples from California came up and kept the homestead and cats for us while we visited family “outside.” Through an unusually dry spring and summer we tried to conserve water enough that we could switch to the colder, higher pressure winter supply just before we left. When we did, it ran out that evening! The sitters went up and looked in the tank, and found it empty. In that process, they saw something we’d never seen ourselves, until Friday!

Opening the tank achieved two ends; we wanted to check the level of accumulation, and we wanted to dry the box out in the current hot, sunny weather.

We found that while the plywood and upper side of the Thermax sheets do need to dry, the insulation inside is very dry. What little dampness we found comes from the tank filling to overflow. We’ll solve that by resealing the pipe that goes through a hole in the lid.

The pipe itself we found to be only about 6 inches long. If we can make bubbles with it, that means the tank is absolutely full! The tank is quite full, very close to its 1500-gallon capacity, it just hasn’t filled that last, overfull gap. We’re in good shape for the coming winter, especially since the 1000-gallon summer tank continues to be full to overflowing as well.

Once the sealant cures and the panels dry out, the insulation’s integrity will be restored, and our water supply should be safe for the winter.

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