08 July 2012

Rainy Days

With rain (possibly) in the forecast for the next week, it seems like time for another rainwater harvesting update. Spoiler alert: no matter how much of that rain materializes, none of it will end up in the cistern.

Over the last several weeks, I've been busy trenching to run underground water lines from our gutters to the tank. (This is the time-consuming part. If we could have placed the cistern right under a gutter and avoided all of the trenching, we'd be finished and merrily awaiting summer rains right now.) I started digging by hand, knowing that a trencher wouldn't be able to go right up to the house or under the edging that outlines the patio-to-be:

Then I mapped out the rest of the trenches:

We rented a trencher a few weeks ago...

...and officially entered "it has to get worse before it gets better" territory:

Now the yard is a hodgepodge of trenches and the beginnings of a maze of pipes:

With only a couple of hours a day cool enough to work on all of this (on the shady side of the house, fortunately), we still have A LOT of work ahead of us. This weekend we inched closer, finally drilling the holes in the cistern for the underground pipes to tie into. Part of the delay in getting that done was because, gosh, making holes in the cistern sounded so permanent, but it went fine. The only tricky thing was that the cistern was built with ribbing that doesn't allow the bulkhead (the piece that makes the connection between the tank and the pipes) and its gasket to sit flat against the tank at the very top. Here's the bulkhead (about the size of my hand, with a 3" opening through the center; the arrows point to the gasket):

As you can see from this picture of the drilling in action (or maybe you can't...but trust me), the bulkhead doesn't quite fit in the top segment of the tank, so we had to drill just below it.

So that we don't lose the top few inches of rainwater capacity, we will add 90-degree connectors (at both the inlet and the overflow bulkheads) to effectively extend them up those last few inches.

Drilling through the metal took a while (it was a "slow and steady" process if ever I've seen one), but once I finished, I popped the bulkheads in -- and as I tightened them, I could see them cinch up against the tank -- especially on the all-important (and therefore gasketed) inside:

I haven't calculated the total length of pipe infrastructure that needs to be installed to get the rainwater system going -- maybe on the order of 200-250 feet? -- but with the bulkheads in, we're several inches closer....

Also this weekend, we finally glued the first downspout (which we built a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't cemented together). Now this...

...is in the process of becoming this:

Progress, progress....