The manner in which the water supply for the country house shall be procured is always a matter of importance, and usually depends largely upon the natural facilities that exist. The methods commonly in use, are pumping by hand from wells or by power - such as windmill or pumping engine - supply by gravity, by siphonage, or by the use of a ram. In the use of a gravity supply, the source of supply must be at a higher elevation than the point of delivery. The siphon is used in procuring water from a higher point than the point of delivery, when a hill or other obstruction intervenes between the two points, and over which the supply line must be carried. The ram can be used only when the source of supply is lower than the point of delivery, and when the supply is so located that the ram may be placed at a point below it. Thus it will be seen that in procuring a water supply, local conditions must usually govern the matter. In order to provide a head which shall deliver the water at the several points where it is to be used, an attic storage tank is generally used. A tank of 300 to 500 gallons will be found to be large enough for the ordinary country home. The tank when filled, represents an immense weight, and care must be taken in giving it a proper support. This is easily done in installing a tank in a house in course of construction, but is often a difficult matter in an old house. The tank should be located where it will not freeze, near a chimney often being a good location. The top of the tank should be covered, in order that dust and dirt and odors may not reach the water, and a ventilating pipe should also be provided.
The tank may be filled in many ways - by hand or power pump, windmill, pumping engine, or ram. Plate 47 shows the discharge pipe from the pump delivering to the tank over the top, the supply pipe to fixtures being taken out of the bottom. Another very good method is to connect the pump pipe into the bottom of the tank and use this same pipe as the down supply to the fixtures.
This will save the necessity of running a separate supply pipe to the fixtures, and answers the purpose as well.
If a hand force pump is used, as shown in Plate 47, a faucet on the pump may be used to advantage. Drinking water may be pumped direct from the well through the faucet, and when this is closed it may be pumped into the tank.
A tell-tale should always be provided, which should end, if possible, at the point where the pump is located, in order that the person operating the pump may know by the escape of water, when the tank has been sufficiently filled. The tell-tale may enter the side of the tank, as shown, or pass through the bottom into a standing overflow.
The attic tank should have an overflow either of 1 1/2 - or 1 1/2 -in. pipe, which, if possible, should empty onto a roof. It may be carried into a fixture on a floor below. It is often convenient to discharge the overflow into the water-closet flush tank.
When the attic tank is used, the hot-water supply for the house is under tank pressure, and in order to provide for expansion, an expansion pipe should be taken from the highest point of the hot-water system and carried over the top of the tank, into which any expansion may vent itself.
Under the tank a safe or drip pan should be placed, to take care of any leakage from the tank. From the safe a drip should be run into some open fixture in common use, in order that, by the escape of leakage through the pipe, warning of trouble may be given as quickly as possible. Sheet lead is generally used for drip pans or safes, while sheet copper is now mostly used for tank linings. When the attic tank is filled from a pump or ram, the ball cock and valve are not used, but when a supply by gravity is used, the ball cock and valve are necessary in order to regulate the flow of water as it is needed.
A great objection to many well waters is their excessive hardness, which make them objectionable for kitchen and laundry purposes-. When the natural supply is of this nature, the rain water falling on the roof of the house is collected and used for these purposes entirely, or as far as possible.
Rain water may be discharged directly from the roof into the attic tank, as shown in Plate 47, the objection to this course being that a large part of the water must be lost through the overflow, and in the event of the stoppage of the overflow during a heavy storm, the house would be in danger of being flooded. Instead of discharging the overflow upon the roof, it may be carried into a cistern, and all the water needed, thus saved. If desirable, the rain water may not be connected directly into the attic tank, but may be discharged into the cistern.
In either case of using the cistern, a pump must be used to force the water into the attic tank. When the rain water is thus utilized, wholly or in part, the pump connection with the well may be allowed to remain as shown in Plate 47, to be used whenever the cistern water gives out, and for providing through the pump faucet, a supply of drinking water.
In the use of the faucet, there will often be sufficient storage of water in the pipe between the pump and the tank, without having to pump.
It is best to use a cistern capable of holding a month's supply of rain water, in order that when a rainy period comes, enough water may be stored to last until it will probably be renewed. When entire dependence is made upon rain water, storage should be provided for a period of six weeks, if possible, at the rate of about twenty-five gallons per day for each inmate of the house. To some this rate of water use may seem excessive, but it is low rather than high, as extended experience shows.
If possible, rain water should be screened before entering the attic tank, as leaves, twigs, slate, etc., enter the cistern in considerable quantity. Filters are sometimes used for clearing the water, and screens of various kinds are employed. Devices known as rainwater separators may also be procured, which prevent the first washings of a rain storm from entering the tank or cistern.
Well water is no doubt used to a far greater extent in the country than any other source of supply. Whether it is a well or spring or other source of supply, the greatest care should be taken in providing against its contamination in any way. It is popularly considered that the country is free from all manner of impure conditions, but it is true, nevertheless, that in the past, the death rate in country districts, where, apparently, living conditions are perfect, has been as great or greater from such diseases as typhoid fever than in cities.
Generally a case of this dreaded disease in the country, may be traced to a contaminated well or other supply. For this reason every precaution should be taken.
The well should never be located near a leeching cesspool, it being well to have at least 300 ft. separate them. A tight cesspool should not be located within 30 ft. of any well or other source of supply.
In running a line of earthenware drain pipe, it should be kept as far away from any source of water supply as possible.
Whenever possible, a cesspool or drain-pipe line should be located at a lower elevation than the well, in order that the natural drainage may carry any leakage away from, rather than toward, the well.
The location and common use of wells within a few feet of privies, is a practice which may be seen in almost any country district, and is a practice which has been the direct cause of a large part of the typhoid-fever cases in the country.
It is claimed that contaminated water in running through a comparatively few feet of soil, will purify itself, and on the strength of this claim, many are willing to take chances in the use of drinking water coming from exposed sources.
While this fact may be true under certain circumstances, it has little in it to cause a lessening of precautionary measures, as the contaminating source is usually a permanent one, and the action of purification by filtration is not to be depended upon at a depth of more than three or four feet, as the admission of air, upon which the action depends, is not sufficient at greater depths.
Wells are of three kinds, those which are dug, driven wells, and bored wells.
The first named is the most common, and the driven well next.
Even the driven or bored well is by no means proof against contamination, as impurities may enter the water at considerable distances from the well.
Many waters of sparkling appearance, and apparently absolutely pure, are very far from being what they appear, and too much attention cannot be given to the matter of precaution in securing a supply for country use which is absolutely pure, and then seeing to it that it is not contaminated later.