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Author Topic: Which header tank should I use?  (Read 3164 times)
acresswell
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« on: November 18, 2011, 05:34:42 AM »

Background: I'm building a new house on the site of an old one (on the side of a fairly steep hill). The old house had a well (still in existence) with a huge pump by the back door that sucked water up about 20metres and then sent it a further 8 metres up the hill to a brick & concrete header tank underneath a shed. At some stage the well water quality or quantity wasn't deemed sufficient and a mains water connection was established.

I'm planning on fitting a rainwater tank rather than using the well, since I will then avoid 20metres of water pumping. I'd expected to fit quite a large collection tank (probably 4800 or 6500 litres) and pump up to a header tank in the loft (approx 7 metres head) but I've recently demolished the old shed (which had collapsed on top of the old brick & concrete header tank).  I've been able to inspect the old brick & concrete header tank properly for the first time... and it's much bigger than I thought (about 3500 litres - bigger than the shed!).   It's now very tempting to fit a smaller collection tank at the bottom, and use the old brick & concrete header tank to contribute to the storage.

The most obvious downside is that I'd need to pump the water a bit higher (it's about 2 metres further up the hill to the brick & concrete tank than it would be to a header tank in the loft) so it will lead to slightly higher running costs and possibly a more expensive pump.

The upsides would be:
1) smaller collection tank at the bottom= cheaper and less digging to do     
2) would be able to use this water over more of the garden (most of the garden is higher than the house)
3) don't need header tank in loft (less cost, frees up space in loft)
4) Water pressure would be slightly higher in the house, so WCs would fill more quickly.
5) Water would be stored at a colder temperature, reducing the prospect of bacterial growth and smelly water
6) Having a larger header tank might mean that I could use a solar pump to move water "up the hill" since a few days without sun wouldn't be a problem.
On a purely emotional level, the brick & concrete tank is very nicely built and elegantly concealed. It would seem a shame not to re-use this piece of engineering especially since just building it will have been a major undertaking, with all the tools and materials being carried up the hill!

Your thoughts / opinions / suggestions appreciated...
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Baz
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 02:24:01 PM »

Have you looked at the cost of a storage tank? Even IBCs aren't that cheap so make use of what you've got.
I'd still be inclined to fit an inside tank in case of freezing and to enable a mains top up if required and also to have the well pump too. You might want to look at water quality of your well as it might be clean enough to use with minimal extra effort for showering and clothes washing.
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clockmanFR
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 07:15:48 PM »

acresswell, here in France things that you have are still in use. The consensus seems to be that the cistern took rainwater and normally has an overflow that went to the well. The well was not allowed to have rainwater run off as this muddied the water, so to speak, but the well normally collected water from the water table/springs.

Cistern's were allways under a building to keep cool and not have any day light getting in, ie to stop algae growing, and were mostly used for washing and clothes washing.

The huge cistern in 'The Opera' in Paris has blind Trout in it.

We have several wells but none produce sufficiently good quantity and quality of water. It seems, told to me by several old boy's, that you need to pump it out about 6 times, (to get the ground/water table moving), then you can start to see how quickly it fills back up.
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acresswell
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2011, 08:27:49 AM »

Clockman, the brick/concrete tank is certainly buried mostly underground (hence my surprise at its size once I was able to see properly inside it)

Baz,  we won't have a well pump at first, because it's quite possible that we won't ever need it... so I'd rather the money stayed in the bank. The harvested rainwater will be doing all the WCs and washing machine.  I've been reading with interest the thread on showering with rainwater, but don't think I'll be going that route quite yet!

Dropping down a size on the collection tank will only save about 300 on the tank itself, but it'll also reduce the amount of excavation. We will have to do a little more trenching if we're using the upper brick/concrete tank.

There's an old steel/cast iron pipe running from the upper tank down towards the collection tank.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to just push an MDPE pipe down the centre of this to reduce the trenching, then put a tee in near to the house. The section of the pipe  below the tee will have uni-directional flow (uphill from collection tank towards house/upper tank) while the upper section of the pipe will have bidirectional flow, depending on whether water is being used or pumped uphill.

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