The Homestead Water Supply – Part 2

Welcome Back! In homestead water supply part 1, I explained how I had a deep well drilled and had an outside hand pump installed. I will now discuss how we upgraded our water system.

Pitcher Pumps

Even after I got married, we used the outside hand pump for all of our water needs. But there came a time when we decided to get really modern and have “running water”. I installed a hand pitcher pump at the kitchen sink. The pump had a chamber with suction leathers. But this setup had limitations.

Our Maine Homestead Kitchen w/ Pitcher Pump

Pitcher Pump at Kitchen Sink in Maine

Theoretically, you can only suck and lift water 33.9 feet high (vertical distance). Realistically, it seems 18-20 feet of lift is a more practical number. A pitcher pump relies on your water source being within that dimension. Your pump and situation might be able to improve somewhat on that lift number and sometimes the only way to tell is install the pump and see how it performs. There are many variables to calculate the lift and as far as I’m concerned, that’s better suited for scientists. Since our water table was only 5-7 feet below the surface, our new pitcher pump worked well for us.

Pitless Adapters

The trick was how to run the pipe from the sink and tap into the well. It was a bit of work but this is how I did it. I dug a trench from the well casing and then under the house to where the kitchen sink was situated overhead. I then dug down to a depth of three feet along the well casing to expose the casing. I needed enough access room to get a drill with a hole cutter in there to bore a hole in the side of the well casing.

There is a device called a Pitless adapter. This adapter makes it possible to tap into the side of an existing well casing in order to run another suction line down into the well. I bored my hole the required diameter for my adapter. Once the hole was cut, I had to gingerly drop the suction tube, which had half of the Pitless adapter attached to it, down into the well from the top of the well casing. This was an operation that needed to be done right, lest I drop the assembly and it fell to the bottom of the well. Here are great directions directly from a manufacturer. One very important point: the suction line had a foot valve attached to its end. That foot valve would remain submerged in the well water.

Foot Valves – What are They?

A foot valve is simply a device that will allow water to flow one way only. You want to be able to draw water up into your suction line but prevent it from draining back out. If you lose suction and/or water doesn’t seem to be staying in your water line, it’s likely due to a leaking foot valve that is not sealing properly, probably due to a little dirt on the seal. I’ve taken foot valves apart and cleaned them so it’s not always necessary to replace it. Having a spare foot valve is always handy though. That will be a recurring theme of mine as you will read in future posts. Spare parts! They have come in handy over the years.

Once I had the Pitless adapter aligned with my new hole from the inside of the well casing, I gingerly pulled it through and then I was able to put the nut on from the outside to lock the adapter in place. I now had a sealed adapter going through the side of my well casing with a suction line in the water and a nipple on the outside of the casing which I used to connect my water line to the house.

The water line from the well to the house needed to be well insulated and buried in the trench. I did that by using foam insulating collars made for the size pipe I was using. The insulating foam comes in various sizes and thicknesses. I opted for 1/2 thick. I figured it was better to over-insulate than skimp.I insulated the entire run from the well right up to where the pipe entered through the floor of the house. Then I put the entire insulated assembly in a 4 inch PVC solid sewer pipe. I laid that whole assembly in the trench and backfilled. So in essence, I had an insulated piece of tubing inside of and protected by a larger 4 inch sewer pipe.

Once the water line was connected at the well casing (Pitless adapter) and the run was made up into the house and connected to the pitcher pump, it was a matter of pumping vigorously until enough suction could be generated to lift the water from the well, fill the water line and pitcher pump chamber and voila… running water! Sort of. It sure beat having to go outside to fetch buckets of water for cooking, cleaning and laundry. Progress!

There was one thing I did which made that initial pumping process easier. I took my pump apart and soaked the leathers in water so they would swell and become supple. The wet leather conformed to the pump chamber and made a tighter seal; hence better suction.

We now had two locations to access water at our Maine homestead. One inside the house and the other outside. Both used hand pumps, albeit different types of pumps, to draw water.

Once we made the big move to the Canadian wilderness, I utilized an electric pump to draw water out of the lake as well as a hand dug well. In the next post, I’ll explain how we used a piston pump in our root cellar to draw water 200 feet from the lake to supply our home.

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna

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One Response to The Homestead Water Supply – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Spring 2018 Update On Our Off Grid Homestead - Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness

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