Sunday, April 22, 2018

Water - Get It While It's Free

I heard on NPR that the "desert" has moved as far east as Ft. Worth. Climate change is real. Whether you believe it's a man made event or just the natural evolution of the planet, it's not to be ignored. Ranchers, farmers, gardeners, and naturalists pay attention to the seasons because natural resources are seasonal. We're in the water season, y'all. I'm taking this opportunity to get some free water.

Guess What We Use More Than Electricity


That's our April utility bill. 

I've pointed out that water and wastewater are the biggest consumption in this family of three women. If you check out the Product Recommendation page, you'll see that I recommend you think about how much water your family uses everyday. Not only will you understand how valuable the resource is, but you'll probably get the urge to conserve.

Rainwater Collection Tank is Fully Operational

We put a 500 gallon rainwater collection tank on the cabin. My goal is to keep it off the grid forever. We would have a water well rather than city water if we ditched the rainwater collection system, but a water well requires electricity. A water well is regulated, and here's a news flash. Water wells are not like personal holes in the ground. They are taps into the greater water table that everyone uses. So consumption is not controlled by you.

In the current set up, this tank catches water from half the roof, and that's about 168 square feet. With one inch of rain, I'll collect about 100 gallons. 

How did I do that math?  Simple. Write this down - Sq ft of roof x 60% for every inch of rain. 
Rain is free. Rain is celebrated. This is the rainy season. 

Rainwater Showers are Divine

Once the tank and gutters were in place, and I knew I had some water in it, I went about setting up a way to get water from the tank to our little outdoor shower/washing station. Basically, I set it up the same way one would set up an RV system. I used a Shurflo 4008 water pump, attached it to a small accumulator tank (aka pressure bladder), and mounted the set up on an old piece of 2x8 scrap board. Tammy always keeps her lumber scraps, and this is a smart thing to do.

Purchase both on Amazon for $110

I also added a little pre-pump strainer to catch any debris that might come from the water tank.

You'll also notice a light switch attached to the set up. This is super easy to do. It's DC (direct current) wiring. This means I will get my power from a battery rather than an electrical plug. The pump comes with a DC wiring configuration. You will need to buy extra black wiring and extra red wiring. Get it in the auto department at Walmart. Also buy some electrical tape because you need to splice your wires to get enough length to get to a battery.  

The end result looks something like this.

Here's step by step instructions:

  1. From the pump, securely attach the red wire to the light switch. Secure the wire under one screw. 
  2. Secure the rest of the wire to the other screw in the switch. This wire will go to your battery.
  3. A 10 amp fuse is recommended between the switch and the battery. I couldn't find that size fuse, so I skipped it. Don't be a fool like me. Find the little fuse, and wire as it is in the image.
  4. Extend the length of your black wire so that it is long enough to make it to the battery.  I have my battery a few feet away from the pump.
  5. Purchase battery connector clamps, and attach them to the ends of your wires. You can find these at Walmart or any auto parts store. They are smaller versions of the clamps on your jumper cables. 
Pump Wiring

Battery Connector Clamps

If you are unsure of how to wire this pump, take it to an auto parts store or local hardware store. Go local. The people at the box stores probably don't know how to really help you. Your local store has someone who really wants to help you. Or ask for my help in the comments. I'll PM you on Facebook.

I did not permanently install this pump set up because it's not weather proof. I set it up each time we go to the country. I push it under the cabin and set the switch up on a floor beam to keep it from getting wet and shorting out.

Finally, I have a water hose from the tank to the inflow side of the pump, and a water hose from the outflow side of the pump bladder. That hose has a hand controlled sprayer. That means extreme control of the water. We don't need much because that little pump and bladder make incredible pressure. Short blasts work great, and we greatly conserve water; which will be pretty scarce after June. 

All of this lo-fi plumbing and electric are powered by a lawn mower battery. It's such a small amount of power that I don't need a big juicy deep cycle battery. We only flip the switch to "On" when we use the water. Otherwise, it's off to avoid a short or fire or unwanted shock. 

Finally, I connected a propane on-demand hot water heater that can be purchased at any store that sells camping equipment. I purchased an EcoTemp L5 Portable Tankless Propane Water Heater from Walmart. 

I've had a few rainwater showers.
My skin and hair.

This was a lengthy post, but well worth it.
If you are thinking about rainwater catchment, now is the time to set it up.
If you're in Texas, get it in place by Memorial Day. We historically have big rain storms around that weekend.
And finally, don't drink the water. It's not safe due to debris that invariably gets in the tank. If I find an effective way to filter it, I'll share my recommendations.

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