Old Cistern Ideas

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  #1  
Old 07-26-12, 07:40 AM
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Old Cistern Ideas

I think we have been blessed with an old cistern in the basement of our old farmhouse. I've been thinking a lot recently (especially with the drought we've experienced this summer!) of figuring out a way to utilize this for watering the garden, yard, etc.

First of all, I need confirmation that it is actually a cistern. There is no access opening that I know of. Here is a picture:
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What appears to be where the pipes were connected (looks like possibly an elbow still sticking up):
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This is in the yard. I think maybe the pipes lead to this?? It's in the right direction. Was this a filter system of some sort?
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This is at the corner of the house, which is around the corner of the porch from the "filter". I assume this was for the downspouts to empty into. Would this have been connected to the "filter" area?
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I know nothing about this, so I'm hoping someone can give me ideas on how all this works and/or what I need to do to get this to work.
  1. What's the best way to gain access to see what's inside and clean it out?
  2. How do I set up a filtration system that I can run my downspouts through?
  3. What do I use to pump it out again (to run a sprinkler, etc.)?
  4. How do I set up an overflow?

I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Thanks!
 
  #2  
Old 07-26-12, 08:28 AM
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Looks like a cistern to me. Yes that opening with two pipes is a type of filter system. One pipe should be lower then the other.

There should be an access lid for the cistern itself.
 
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Old 07-26-12, 09:28 AM
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To confirm stick a garden hose in the spot where you think the down spout used to connect. Turn on the water and see if shows up in the filter area, then listen for water entering the cistern.

As Lawrosa mentioned, there should be an access hatch/cover to the cistern itself. Almost all of them had it because they usually got cleaned out and scrubbed once a year. If you can find it and have access to the cistern then you can look at putting in a submersible pump to get the water up and out to your garden.
 
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Old 07-26-12, 01:41 PM
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Thanks, guys. I ran the garden hose into the downspout tile, but nothing ended up coming into the filteration pit. Tried the hose in both tiles coming into the filteration pit, don't know where that ended up. There appears to be some sort of metal pipe(s) coming in beside the higher of the 2 tiles, but the end is all mangled and dirt packed around it. I have a feeling these went to the cistern.

There is absolutely no access hole that I can find. Top appears to be solid concrete with the outer wall on the back side. The only possibility is the stairway; It's concrete and looks as if someone tried to waterproof it at some point with mortar along the edges, etc. I have noticed during extremely wet times with heavy rain, water will seep "through" the steps and run down the stairway.

Is it possible that the stairway is part of the cistern? It is on the back side of the cistern, with what appears to be about an 18" wall between, although part of that wall looks to be stone built on top of the cistern itself.

Would there possibly be an access at the top of the stairway where there is a small area of wood before the concrete slab?
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  #5  
Old 07-26-12, 05:11 PM
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I'm starting to think the cistern or it's feed pipe system has "issues". Possibly why it was abandoned long ago. It was too much work or money to fix so they abandoned it and over time the access hatch may have been removed or covered in a renovation 30 years ago. I think it's a fun project but at some point you may have to decide how bad you want to get the system working again.
 
 

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