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Rainwater collection question

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by matt_w, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. matt_w

    matt_w Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    Im building a system to pull water from my gutters and use it for flushing toilets. My question is on using such a system in the winter. I'm concerned about the water freezing/damaging the setup. I'm using 55-gallon plastic barrels for storage, and flexible hoses (which I would think would stand up to freezing better than PVC). How likely is it for a barrel full of say 30 gallons of water to freeze and damage the barrel/system?

    Anyone have a similar setup with some experience that can help me out?
     
  2. SheepDog223

    SheepDog223 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Build a wood shed with shingles and insulation and it should be ok, and it will look nicer.
     
  3. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    I've been considering a similar system, if you run into any good plans or discussions on this topic I would appreciate a few links posted, Thanks!
     
  4. MA Duce

    MA Duce Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    It will depend on the amount of water in the barrel, and how long the cold lasts. Wrapping the barrel with insulation is a good idea, as is enclosing it. I'm assuming you are completely isolating your toilet supplies from the remainder of your potable water system in your house. This is important to maintain clean water for drinking. If you are not then you need to install some sort of backflow preventer to keep your drinking supply clean. If the lines coming from the collection system to the storage system are not full of water or only partially full, freezing damage should not be an issue.
     
  5. matt_w

    matt_w Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    I'm thinking of isolating it with a couple valves (so I can switch between rain and city water easily). The lines from the resovoir to the toilet will be full since the system will be gravity fed. I'm not too worried about the line freezing, but the fittings are a different matter.
     
  6. Sasquatchvnv

    Sasquatchvnv Port Orchard Active Member

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    I used to live in a camper, and haul 4 ea. 55 gal drums of water in. Over the winter, I put the barrels in an insulated lean to, and heated it with a 100w light bulb. Worked fine down to 17F for weeks at a time.

    I put pvc "straws" in through the bungs and connected them to a 4 valve manifold inside the camper. Empty one barrel, shut the valve and open the next.
     
  7. elsullo

    elsullo Portland Oregon New Member

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    I used to live in the woods, and put up with electric outages during cold spells too. When the power is out the pump don't run and the toilet won't flush for long. It made me long for a huge surge/storage tank that might last a while. But even that would freeze solid and break without constant trickling and refilling.

    Sorry, but the only way to prevent freeze damage is to either put the whole setup inside a heated enclosure, or to drain it during hard-freezing weather. I have seen plastic barrels freeze solid in two nights, bulging their bottoms if not splitting them. And I have seen brass valves split from just the small amount of water freezing inside of them. If you go with all flexible componen ts it might be worth an experiment to see if the damage is fatal.

    ALSO, if this setup is ONLY for toilet water and is never mixed with house water supply, why not dump some anti-freeze in the barrels for the winter? Plain old cheap discount store antifreeze would work fine and not corrode your toilet.

    Allow me to point out that you could also simply haul buckets of water dipped from your series of rainwater collection barrels, thus skipping the cost and complexity of plumbing parts? Myself, even though I now am forced to live in an urban apartment, I still collect "earthquake water" in a huge stack of my used two-liter soda bottles to keep for toilet flushing. Country habits do not need to be given up!

    Now, let me brag about another use of rain gutters: I built a super-insulated hot tub in a lean-to shed outside of my country kitchen---and directed the rain gutter to fill it. The luxurious SOFTNESS of bathing in that rainwater is an indescribable sensuality! How glorious it was to soak in soft hot rainwater while watching the snow fall! If you do it Japanese-style and bathe BEFORE you enter the hot tub the water quality lasts for weeks before it needs to be changed---during the next big rain!............................elsullo :p
     
  8. billcoe

    billcoe PDX Platinum Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    I would have done it, as it sounds like a fantastic idea. However, we reshingled with shingles that have some anti- moss zinc in there, and I don't want that stuff anywhere near my garden. I might still do it as a SHTF prep idea so we have water that can be filtered or used for the toilet in an emergency.

    Some food for thought:
    Safety of Rooftop / Rain Barrel Collected Water
     
  9. slingshot1943

    slingshot1943 salem or Well-Known Member

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    I was in Ketchikan in the eighties and a lot if not most used rain water as their main water supply. They had water piped from the gutters to tanks in the back yard and gravity fed to the house. I wondered about the sea gull contribution to the roof but I guess it was just ignored.
     
  10. torpedoman

    torpedoman land of corrupt politicians Member

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    even simpler idea buy or build a composting toilet and you don't have to flush
     
  11. elsullo

    elsullo Portland Oregon New Member

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    I have seen several earnest versions of the composting toilet, including a solar heated one: they all STANK, even with an electric fan sucking air up the vent stack. The only natural toilet that I have lived with that did NOT stink was a simple outdoor outhouse, liberally sprinkled with ashes from the fireplace. But frost on the toilet seat in Winter is not fun......................elsullo :(
     
  12. EZLivin

    EZLivin SW of PDX Well-Known Member

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    The old-fashioned outhouse has worked pretty well for hundreds (thousands?) of years (plus of course the "honey bucket" during those extra cold days). I plan to use a neighbors yard at night, but will use the outhouse during the day. :D
     
  13. Gunwheeler

    Gunwheeler Somewhere in De Nile Active Member

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    Get a Fuzzy wuzzy toliet seat cover and hang it above/behind the woodstove. Take it with you to the outhouse when you "Go". Warmth is a good thing.