Friday, September 5, 2008

The week of plumbing problems

The past week has been a week of plumbing challenges. We found the first problem in the middle of last week when I hiked up the hill to make sure our water tanks were filling. We have our water system set up so we have a 1000 gallon tank near the pipe by the road which is filled either from the pipe or from rainwater off the shop roof. We then either pump water from that tank up a 60 foot hill behind our house, or, if we have sufficient water pressure, let the three tanks on the hill fill directly from the pipe.

As I approached the top, I realized that the stand was sagging. I told Tom and Selwyn about it, and Tom made this temporary fix, but decided that we needed a new sturdier water stand so we didn’t have 1400 gallons of water washing down the hill when the stand broke and the tanks burst.

Here you can clearly see the break. Good thing the 1000 gallon tank was emptied and moved!

Tom and Selwyn emptied the tanks and took them off the stand. It may be a good thing the stand broke, because all three tanks up on the hill were due for a good cleaning.

Tom and Selwyn poured some new concrete footers and built a bigger, sturdier stand. Lucky for us we’ve had enough water pressure the past week that the tanks are refilled and water is flowing into the house just as it should!

The problem was that at this point the gray waste line clogged, and water was not flowing out of the house properly. Fortunately the toilet is on its own line with a real septic tank, so all Tom and Selwyn had to do was dig up the pipe from the house into the soakaway.

Every segment of pipe, from the drains in the house all the way into the soakaway, was clogged to some extent. Between a snake (the plumbing kind, not the living kind) and the hose, we cleaned out the pipes.

After living with septic systems my whole life, I’d like to say that we’re very good about not washing anything down the drain that shouldn’t be, but after seeing and smelling what came out of the pipes, I have to wonder if I need a better system. Yuk!

Tom is now in the process of inventing some sort of waste trapping system, probably by running the water through a barrel with a stone filter shortly after it leaves the house to prevent the pipes in the soakaway from getting so badly clogged again.

As we were in the middle of this project (I helped with the cleaning out part), a truck drove up the driveway. Three men from the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) got out and said they were in the area so they stopped by to see what we were doing. Two of the three had helped us when we registered in the BTB, so we did a little catch up on progress we’ve made since February as we gave them the tour. They said they really liked the rooms and the furniture, and the only suggestion they made was to decorate the guest rooms with Belize/jungle art – a good suggestion which we can now start to think about since the basics are done. They were intrigued by the cages, and snapped a lot of photos both inside and out, and were brainstorming about what we could do to turn the cages into an attraction since we’re lacking any natural attractions beyond the jungle on the property. Camping for security conscious back packers? A haven for parents with out of control children, or for spouses who literally want to lock one another in the dog house? We haven’t come up with anything brilliant yet, but we’ll keep thinking!


sandy A. said...

Thanks for all the updates! I was beginning to wonder what y'all were up to! I'll bet those kids had a real good time riding in the jungle--what fun!
One question: Is there a reason you decided to have your cisterns up there on that hill? Everyone I know has the cistern right next to the house so the water can was off the roof, into the gutters, and down into the cistern. Just wondering....

sandy A. said...

A cage suggestion:
Basically what you have there is a frame, and I dont' know what the dimensions are, but are they big enough for greenhouses? You could cover the sides with mesh, and the top, and cultivate either seedlings for vegetables for your garden (would keep critters from snacking on young plants) or maybe an orchid house? I saw a really cool orchid house at DuPlooy's. Or maybe a butterfly house? You can do that with that mesh too--you know, the kind that you can get in different shade percentages. They might have some over at Sp. Lookout.

MoonracerFarm said...

Hi Sandy - Good suggestion for the cages. My only problem is a total lack of a green thumb...but maybe I can get somebody else to grow something in them.

And good question about the water tank on the hill. One of the things we've learned the hard way here is that when you don't have electricity you can't use a pump, and when the pipe doesn't always have enough pressure to push water into the house, the only way to have reliable water pressure is to raise the tank. We started with a stand over the cabin, but that didn't give us enough pressure to make the on-demand water heaters kick on, so the tanks went 60 feet up the hill. Now we have great water pressure, all the time!

sandy A. said...

That's kinda what I thought was the reason--but had to ask. Good use of terrain!