I m trying to find out about the care and feeding of a cistern. Its about 15
ft across and looks like it was suppose to be about 3 ft deep, guessing 2000
gal.. There is a 3 inch pipe flush with the bottom and I assume this was for
draining it and two other pipes ,one about a third of the way from the
bottom and the other about a third the way from the top. I figure one is the
gozinta pipe and the other is the gozouta pipe but dont know which is which.
I know it was built in 1974 and used for about 10 years before the owner
decided to try other ways to treat his well water. Water is fairly alkaline
ph8.5 has a lot of calcium iron and sulphurand sediment. I know the cistern
was used for aeration, chlorination and ph adjustment. Chemicals were added
to the cistern daily for this. The owner got tired of the daily regime and
started trying various filters, auto chlorinators and maybe RO but the water
was never as good as when he used the cistern. Any ifo on using the cistern
would be greatly appreciated.
A reliable, "good" cistern is fairly expensive to run these days.
You can't have the old open types that used to exist. Where is
it getting its water from? JUST the well, or other place, too,
like roof water? IMportant ot check.
I"d opt for a good water treatment system if it's that important
to you. That would be either upgrading the cistern (not a big
business anymore, IMO) or installing the right more modern
As I understand it, anyway - I'm no expert by any means.
I've always wondered about the old cisterns that gathered water from
rain runoff. Seems like runoff would contain all sorts of insects,
bird crap, etc. Did people use that water for drinking water? Sure
doesn't sound healthy.
The world is not really as dangerous as we've been led to believe. The
cistern on the place we recently bought was at one time the only source of
water. I'm sure they drank from it for 70+ years. There is a charcoal
filter of sorts under the gutter downspout, made of brick. A pipe then
leads under ground to the cistern. Ours is 22' deep with 18' of water in
it. I'd rather drink rainwater that's been stored in a nice cool stone
lined cistern than the crap that comes out of some city's systems.
"Bob" < email@example.com> wrote in message
At my aunt and uncle's house in Iowa where I lived in the late 30's, the
downspouts had valves to control the rainwater. They were normally left in
position to dump the water into barrels. After it had rained a while to
flush everything, the valves were turned to direct the water into the
cistern. I do not remember there being any kind of treatment of the water in
the cistern. I remember once they had to have water hauled from town to fill
the cistern. We all drank the cistern water and survived okay.
No, not for drinking water but for washing, bathing, etc.. The
rain water types usually provided plenty of soft water for
washing. They were also a handy place for a firetruck to drop a
sucker to get water real quick; almost as good as having a
swimming pool supply if they got there in time<g>.
This cistern was fed by a well an will continue to be. The biggest purpose
of having the cistern was to treat the water for sulfur and iron through
aeration and remove sediment(blue mud). As I have been told the pump feeding
the cistern only ran once a day about 1AM giving solids a chance to settle
out. I know every morning the Ph and Chlorine was checked and adjusted. This
doesnt sound expensive but a bit aggravating. Im not very fond of relentless
repetitive task either. I am thinking of automatically adding chlorine on
the well side of the cistern as I understand this helps in removing the
sulfur and iron. The water is very hard, I dont have any numbers but it is
almsot impossible to use it to wash your hair without softening. Is there a
chemical I can add to the cistern to soften the water or is using a water
softener my only option? The cistern is basically a big masonry tank with a
roof over it . Space between the tank and roof is screened with copper
screen. I guess that is why it is still in good shape. There are also two
other cisterns(3500 gal each) on the property. These are made of fiberglass
and were feed by water from the workshop roof and used to water the garden.
I m beginning to think these would be more useful if cleaned and disinfected
and fed from the well.
I think the "cost" is in the maintenance of it. Are you SURE it
can meet potabilty requirements for code? Not having one now of
course, I don't know, but it sounds like a lot of chemicals and
equipment to keep a LOT of water controlled compared to the
demand system of a water softener and/or water treatment tank.
I could see using it for washing, etc., but not for drinking
and cooking. Any kind of opening is a good place for
varmint/critter collection of dead bodies et al, even if they're
I think, rather than taking anything I or anyone else might
say here, I'd look for an expert in your area who not only knows
the systems but also knows what can and cannot be done with them.
I just can not get my head around that kind of water being clean
enough for drinking OR for today's washing machines. But that's
my opinion, not a fact, so ... <g>
Aside: I DO remember as a kid, hauling buckets of water from it
upstairs when the old well went dry one summer and a couple of
winters when power went out. And once it overflowed and ruined
our fancy new coal stoker<g>. Ahh, the memories of youth!
The house my sons purchased about 5 years ago has two cisterns
...about 5000 gallons between the two ... The house is close to if not
over 100 years old..the cisterns date to the late 60's... Drilling a
well was an option..but they discovered that the local wells had a
tendency to run muddy or cave in...
They have water "tanked in" about every month or so from a near by
town at a cost of about 35 bucks a month... which is not bad when the
cost of drilling a well (not guarenteed to produce water) would run
them close to 7000 big ones according to the estimates they have
Yes they do have a filter ... originally they had to run down to the
basement to switch from one cistern to the other... that was corrected
a few months ago now switching cistern is just a matter of pushing a
button .. They have though about collecting water etc and feeding it
to the cisterns BUT at this point its just not worth the effort and
with 2 cisterns running out of water has never been a problem (crossed
Until they purchased the house I never even knew that cisterns
were still used... they had absolutely no problems getting financing
etc and to date they are satisfied with it.
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