The water tank: Part 1

We’ve bitten the bullet and bought a new (plastic) water tank.

The large number of water tanks that came with this place include a couple of old “zincalume” ones, both of which are on their last legs. The first actual leak appeared some months ago, but Felice managed to fix it by jamming some Blu-tac and a wooden stump against it.

Unfortunately, since then the rusty bottom has got even thinner, and the chooks keep knocking the stump away. It’s beginning to seem more likely that one morning we’ll wake up with the house slab washed away in a flood of escaped tankwater.  Hence the new tank.

The old tank on the planks we used to shuffle it along

Mingus claims credit for shifting the old tank

(Someone suggested getting some stuff called “Watercrete”, a kind of waterproof cement, to patch up leaks and extend the life of the old tank. Here is a good example of one of our “wrong tries”…

The marketing for Watercrete claims that it is perfect for sealing leaky water tanks because it can set over a hole, even while water is still leaking out. After following the directions as absolutely exactly as we could, and a gazillion attempts, we discovered that in fact, the stuff doesn’t set while water is leaking out the hole. What happens is, it dissolves into a gooey mess, that washes away before it can set. If anyone from Watercrete can come out here to show us what we’re doing wrong, I’ll eat my words and ply you with eggs and seasonal produce.)

So, the new tank’s arriving in a couple of days, as long as we can get it up the wet driveway. It’s been action-stations here, moving the old tank and getting a base ready for the new one. It turns out that, although I’d never given it any thought before, water tanks need flat bases to sit on (so, for example, it’s no good putting them on a sharp rock and then filling them with water). When we moved the old tank, we discovered it had been sitting (and sloping) rather precariously on some rotting planks laid over a few Besser blocks.

We thought it might be best to build a new base.  So here is what we did, including some things that might have made it easier if we’d thought of them in time.

The first thing was to move the old tank out of the way. We pumped the water remaining in it to another tank, then took off anything removable, like the tap attachment and the inlet cover, to lighten it as much as we could. F went to one side, I went to the other, and we tried to lift the thing. Oh my goodness was it heavy. We couldn’t budge it. So one thing that would make it easier would be to invite a bunch of really strong people around to help.

But after a bit of fiddling, we discovered that the inside bottom of the tank was covered with about 35L of rusty, muddy crud, that drained out if we turned on the tap and I lifted the opposite side of the tank. I hope the nearby banana plants can cope with the concentrated iron solution we showered them with.

So roughly 35kg lighter, we found we could shuffle the bloody thing, a few cm at a time, down a ramp made of a series of planks, and eventually onto the flattish spot we’d cleared for it out of the way.  I’m sure there’s a smarter way to do it, with levers or something, but shuffling worked, even if it was a tad laborious.  The chooks, as well as Mingus the king parrot, gathered around to check we’d done it right.  Apparently we passed muster.

Time for a cup of tea and some self-congratulations. And back massages. But not for long…

The next thing was to redirect the roof water, that used to go into the old tank, somewhere away from the house. It was raining on the day, so the redirection was becoming more urgent, because as it stood, the water just poured out of the disconnected downpipe right next to the house slab. We’re paranoid about the house slab washing down the hill. Please humour us.

We tossed around a few ideas about how to divert the roof water: make a funnel of some sort, to direct the water from the disconnected downpipe into some 50mm irrigation pipe, that we’d lay down the hill? Jam the irrigation pipe directly into the downpipe, and try and make a dodgy seal with plastic bags and duct tape? In the end, we remembered some old PVC pipe that was lying around up the hill. Turned out it was the same diameter as the downpipe, with appropriate elbows etc for us to connect it up in a “Mousetrap” game-like contortion, held up by strategically-placed ladders (see pic).

And then it began to rain in earnest, so we retired inside for another cup of tea.  We’ll do the rest tomorrow.

Redirecting the roof water

Looks a bit dodgy, but it worked.

Roof water dribbles into the old tank, and from there down the hill


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