Saturday, January 7, 2012

around the homestead-refurbishing the cistern

For the last few weeks we had been noticing puddling water around the cistern room but because we have also had decent amounts of rain it was hard to tell if something was amiss. On Wednesday manthing had to go into the cistern room and he decided to look at how much water was in there and we only had 2 blocks of 7. With just the two of us here and knowing how much rain had recently fallen we knew the cistern had sprung a leak. After looking around we believe we found the source but then a decision had to be made. Would we simply patch the hole and be done or would we finish emptying it, clean it out, scrape it down, make any repairs, and reseal the entire thing.
We decided that since the cistern was well over 20 years old and had never had any maintenance that it would be wise to completely go through it and hopefully be done with it until we are too old to be doing such things. We also had a fairly decent window to get the work done before the weather turned, a big bonus in January. The bad part was that our window was a fairly small one for the work that needed to be done so it meant bustin our butts a little bit to getter done.
We had to start by finishing emptying the cistern, so we brought the 325 gallon tank up and filled it. We knew we would be without any water for at least four days and perhaps more depending on the weather. This left about 3 inches of water and a big layer of nastiness that had collected on the bottom for twenty odd years. The only way to get it out was by climbing in and bailing the water out by the bucket full, lifting it over the edge and having the second person hauling it out to dump. It then had to be completely dried and scraped down to remove the old sealant and expose as much block as possible. After getting as much out as we could , it was decided the kitty litter soaker upper stuff would work best to dry it then we could scoop it out.
Once it was all dry we made any repairs that needed to be done and could then begin applying the sealant. After applying each coat of sealant it needed to dry for several hours before the next layer could be done. Last night, we were able to get the second coating on and decided that the rain was not going to come in until late this evening so we would do a third and final coat this morning We also neglected to pull the gutters from the pipe going into the cistern since there was only a 10% chance of rain. At 3:30 this morning we had a middle of the night trip to pull the gutters out and protect our masterpiece.
The final coat went on this morning and we are now hoping that the heavy rains that are forecast do not come until tomorrow so that we can put the gutters back in, fill the cistern and see how the pretty cement pond works.


  1. That's quite a project, and I hope it works as nicely as it looks! Good job.

  2. Do you use that for showers,toilet, and all indoor plumbing?

  3. me too Darius...
    Brenda the only indoor plumbing we use is the kitchen sink... we use an outhouse for toilet but yes we do use it for showers, laundry, dishes, critters as needed and gardens as needed... drinking water is from the spring

  4. fascinating & impressive, i have been curious about cisterns & how they work, we have an old well hole next to our house & wondered if it could be turned into a cistern, with a lot of work & knowledge maybe

    good work you did

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