Monday, 22 July 2013

Water issues

When you're not on a town water supply, there are apparently some problems you occasionally have. My supply comes in through a pipe from the road and feeds up into my water tank. At the bottom right leg of the tank frame in the photo below, a limiter slows down the flow of water up into the tank. I'm only allowed 10000 litres a day, which is more than enough for household usage.

Problem 1: Red hot water.

With pipes clunking in the walls, and the water coming out red, I was a little concerned I had broken something by making use of my wetback. The house comes with a coal range with a wetback, and this heats the water extremely well. Unfortunately it also apparently stirs up the hot water tank, and any clay from the water supply gets pushed up from where it has been sitting at the base of the tank where the cold water feeds in.

The plumber explained all this to me and the solution, which was to repeatedly drain the hot water cylinder until it ran clear. Just make sure to turn off the tank feed to the hot water cylinder, the power to it and then open up the drain pipe with an adjustable wrench and a crescent.

It's pretty safe to do. When you undo the nut, the cold water at the tank drains out first, so your hands aren't going to get scalded. I can't remember how long it took to drain the tank, perhaps 30 to 45 minutes. The flow turned from thick clay to eventually reddish water, before stopping. At that point, I did a 30 second fill, did up the nut, and then drained it again. This was perhaps repeated 5 or 6 times. If the power is not turned off, the danger is that the element in the cylinder will burn out while it is empty.

The most difficult part is getting the nut back on. Unless there's something sealing the screw, then water leaks out. It probably took me about five attempts before I managed it. The trick was to follow the grain with flat overlapping layers of the white plastic plumber's emergency tape. It kind of looked like the following photo, except less blurry..

This worked well.  The water still had a minor red tinge, and I was told that was caused by clay that had baked onto the sides of the water cylinder.  Thankfully two months later, it has finally gone away.  However it has been a rather warm winter, with the exception for the recent snowstorm, so I haven't used the wetback to heat water recently.  If I do, then maybe that might stir the clay up again.

Problem solved and something learnt. :-)

Problem 2: Council leak

The next problem was the pooling water out by the gate where the incoming water line is. Talking to the previous owners, I know of three times where this has happened. Stopping in at the library, and filing a request got the council workers out to fix in within a week or two.  Apparently the pipe is brittle, and badly placed.

This is a small summary of rural New Zealand water problems and their solutions. My septic tank is another story, it's almost enough to make me want to look into humanure!