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convert existing house to rainwater system

Discussion in 'Resource Conservation - Water, Air, Earth, Etc.' started by saraltx, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Apr 1, 2014
    saraltx

    saraltx Enjoys Recycling

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    I recently bought a house. I have county water and get charged $60 a month regardless of how little water I use (the $60 is for "the first 3,000 gallons"). I have no idea how a single person could possibly use anywhere close to that amount, and I have been used to about $20 water bills.
    I have gutters and quite a bit of rain and love the idea of switching to a rainwater system. It would only be worth it if I would be able to disconnect the county water completely, and even then the cost is very high. I was quoted around $10,000 for a tank andinstallation for pocttable use. I'm just wondering if anyone has converted an existing house to a rainwater system? Did it pay off? Did you regret it? How might I lower the cost? I'm very unsure if I can justify that expense.
     
  2. Apr 2, 2014
    TanksHill

    TanksHill Super Self-Sufficient

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    I think you have to way the cost of the system vs the cost of the county water. How long do you plan to live there, is rain in your area reliable.

    I almost think a well would be easier.

    I'm not sure where you live but is there any negotiating the set cost? Our set fee is called a Standby charge. We pay bi monthly and it's an added 80 bucks.

    Crazy!

    Good luck,

    Gina
     
  3. Apr 3, 2014
    Marianne

    Marianne Almost Self-Reliant

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    OMG. Sounds like our part of the world, used to be $35 before you used a drop of water. I'm with TanksHill, I'd go for a well instead. The county would recognize the well as a source of water and allow you to disconnect from rural water (probably?). Then you could build a low tech type of rainwater collection system as time and money allowed.

    In some areas, they might not allow you to disconnect with just a rainwater system. But your area sure could have different codes.
     
  4. Apr 3, 2014
    saraltx

    saraltx Enjoys Recycling

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    I hope to live in this house forever, and I'm only in my early 30s. I'm in East Texas, so there is a lot of rain, but can have droughts as well. I'm still very tempted to go ahead and go for the rainwater after saving up some more money. Is love to hear any other experiences or input!
     
  5. Apr 4, 2014
    Marianne

    Marianne Almost Self-Reliant

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    Was that $10,000 system 'tank' like a cistern?
     
  6. Apr 4, 2014
    TanksHill

    TanksHill Super Self-Sufficient

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    I imagine with a bit of ingenuity you might be able to set up a system on your own cwith less cost.

    Sorry were you planning a gravity feed system or a pump?

    G
     
  7. Apr 4, 2014
    saraltx

    saraltx Enjoys Recycling

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    The quote consists of approximately $5000 for basic tank installation (I guess it would be llike a cistern) and another $5000 to connect it to the existing plumbing, filter it, add a pump andhave potable water. If I would do just the basic tank for irrigation, it would defeat the purpose as I'd still need to buy county water. I was considering just taking the unfiltered rainwater from the tank (possibly even without a pump) and run the little I need for drinking or such through a filter at that time (e.g. Berkey filter). Not sure if I can get my husband to agree with that, or how well that would really work long termas I basically would be carrying all that water from the tank inside the house rather than using existing plumbing.
     
  8. Apr 5, 2014
    Daffodils At The Sea

    Daffodils At The Sea Power Conserver

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    Sara, having clean, safe drinking water is really important.

    Water collected off composite shingles or tar paper (anything man made) on a roof is not clean, safe water. Chemicals are always leaching out of them, and should not be used to cook with or to drink.

    Keeping water clean in a tank takes maintenance. Frogs, baby mice, snails, ants, little bugs can sometimes squeeze their way past the lid or get into the water lines if one comes open, either by wind or movement or even raccoons with clever little hands pulling at it. I find their paw prints on my water line all the time! The tank has to have doses of chlorine, and then have a filter at the house to filter out the chlorine.

    Water coming from a municipal supply is pressurized. That's why it can go uphill and come out the faucet and the shower with strong enough power to wash you off. If you have your own water tank, you'll have to get and maintain and pay for the electricity to run a pump that is always "on" to make your own pressure, and that can be expensive.

    Tanks these days tend to be big plastic tanks, and they eventually break down in the sun, and must always have some water in the bottom to keep them from blowing away. They need to be on a gravel or cement pad with big wooden sides to keep the gravel in, and yet gophers can dig right through that gravel, so cement is best, and it's not cheap.

    Sediment and sometimes iron from pipes collects in the bottom of the tanks, and they need to be emptied and cleaned out. I keep mine covered in a double layer of shade cloth to keep the sun off of it.

    Where we are they require a minimum of 7500 gallons, that's three big tanks, in case of fire, because if you are on your own, that's the only water that will save your house. And if they are plastic tanks, plastic melts, and there is no water.

    Your house insurance rates might also change if you are not connected to municipal water.

    So even if you collect rainwater on a clean surface, there are lots of expenses involved. Probably the $10,000 involves labor to dig underground lines from the new tank and tap into your house water lines. It sounds expensive, because if you crunch the numbers, $720 a year for water, it's about 11 years worth of water.

    I know you said you want to stay there forever, but maybe establish an office in one of the bedrooms and take some of the utilities off on your taxes?
     
    frustratedearthmother likes this.
  9. Apr 5, 2014
    Daffodils At The Sea

    Daffodils At The Sea Power Conserver

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    Oh, and I forgot to mention, carrying water sucks :)

    A pint's a pound the world around! Even 5 gallons is very heavy, especially when it's windy, cold, dark, raining, snowing, the ground is slippery. It's only heroic for about the first week :)
     
    frustratedearthmother likes this.
  10. Apr 6, 2014
    Marianne

    Marianne Almost Self-Reliant

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    Wow, Daffodil - you hit on some realistic issues. Got me thinking, too.
     

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