How to Build an Underground Cistern

What You'll Need
Trench Digger
Hoe or Trowel
Terra Cotta Tiles
Concrete Mixer
2 X 4 Wood

An underground cistern is a structure that allows water to flow away from a building's foundation and your home. Cisterns have been around since ancient times and underground cisterns have been a part of many different cultures and societies. Building an underground cistern for your home is an easy project that can be accomplished by any level of do-it-yourselfer. The process for building an underground cistern involves digging a trench, filling it with concrete and tile, and allowing it to set up.

In order to build an underground cistern for your home you need to acquire some materials, tools and follow these steps that are explained in this how-to article.

Step 1: Dig a Trench

In order to build an underground cistern for your yard you will need to dig a trench. The trench will need to be graded so that water flows downward away from the home's foundation. It is best to rent a trench digger but you can also dig the trench needed for your underground cistern by hand with shovels. The trench digger will allow you to save time and be more efficient in the construction of your underground cistern.

To grade the trench use a level to determine the rise and run relative to your trenches slope. As you remove dirt from the yard check the grading periodically to make sure that you do not remove too much dirt.

Step 2: Pour Concrete in the Trench

Once you have removed the dirt to form the trench and have leveled the ground out, you need to pour concrete into the trench. Use a cement mixer to mix the concrete in order to pour it into the trench. Follow the instructions on the bag for the concrete to make sure that you properly mix the concrete.

Lay 2 X 4 wood inside the trench at equal distances in order to form breaks for the concrete. As the concrete cures and hardens it will need a place to be able to expand and contract. If you do not create the breaks in the concrete as it is being poured, the base of the cistern will crack and you will need to rip the concrete out and start over.

Step 3: Create the Terra Cotta Walls

After the concrete has been poured in the trench, allow some time for it to dry before proceeding with your build. You should lay concrete into the sides of the trench after the base has completely cured in order to set the terra cotta tile for your underground cistern. Complete 1 side of the cistern and wait for it to set up to make sure that the tiles are placed properly before working on the opposing side of the cistern.

Step 4: Complete the Cistern

With the tile walls set in place, allow the concrete on the opposing wall to cure. Once dried, your underground cistern should be complete and ready to move water away from the house.