Thursday, May 18, 2017

Relocating my rain barrel water pump (update #2).

I had some doubts about moving my rain barrel pump to my crawlspace. I had some leaks initially, but I managed to resolved those. Now that that they are gone I'm pretty happy with the setup. The pump is barely audible inside the house.

I decided to improve things further by adding a pressure gauge. I fussed around with setting the pressure on the pump before. The gauge I used for that was attached to one of the hose bibs. I think adding a gauge closer to the pump will be better. It'll certainly be easier to make future adjustments.

I found all of the parts that I needed at Lowes.
I screwed the brass bushing into the threaded side of the PVC elbow and then screwed the pressure gauge into the bushing. Then I cut and glued all of the PVC pipe and fittings to get what I have in the picture below. 
I plugged the pump back in and everything worked just as I hoped it would.
I was able to see the pump kick on when the gauge fell to 30 psi. Unfortunately it shut off just under 50 psi. I know I had it shutting off just over 50 psi previously. That was with a different gauge at a different location. I'll have to try to adjust it a little higher sometime when get a chance. For now everything seems to be working fine.
I've already used almost 300 gallons of rain water this year.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Garden Update May 2017

The garden is really taking off. It seems like I just put the plants in the ground the other day.
I thought these were bush beans. With the way they are growing they might be pole beans. That could be a problem.
These tomato plants had plenty of space when I put them in.

More tomatoes.
I stagger my seed starting, so these peppers and tomatoes are still small.
This row of peppers is really doing well. There are cucumbers in the back of this bed. I hope they get enough sun.
More tomato and pepper plants. We're gonna make salsa this summer!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Relocating my rain barrel water pump (update #1).

I had the bright idea to relocate my rain barrel pump to my crawlspace. So far it hasn't gone as planned. The washer hoses I used to make connections wouldn't seal. I had to replace one. Then I discovered that one of the fittings on my pressure tank had cracked.
I decided to redo all of the piping. The picture below is what I came up with.
I took the pipe vertical instead of horizontal. The key thing that made this possible was a 3/4" elbow with a 1/2" pipe thread outlet. This kept my drain at the bottom. I installed the pressure relief valve further up and the PEX adapter at the top.
The picture below shows it in place in my crawlspace. Initially it worked great, but after a couple of days I noticed it dripping where the PVC pipe attached to the tank. I had to pull it out and screw it down a couple more turns. I'm hoping that will solve the issue.

Below is a picture of the old piping for reference.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I got plants in the ground -- Garden 2017

It's been nice out for the last week and a half so I started putting plants in the ground.
I hung bars of Irish Spring soap from posts to keep the deer away. The brown mat in the picture below is dried out hairy vetch. I put down seed last fall but not much of it grew. I suspect that my seed is too old.
The picture below is a bed full of bush beans. I directly planted these and so far they seem to be doing well.
I still have a lot of peppers and tomatoes that need to be transplanted. They'll probably get put in this weekend.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Relocating my rain barrel water pump.

I mounted the pump for my rain barrels to the under side of my deck last year.
Then I used the pressurized water from the pump to flush a toilet. I was fairly happy with the results. The biggest downside that I had was the noise.  The pump isn't that loud really, but what sound it does make is amplified through the deck. I figured that the solution is to move it to the crawlspace.

The first step was getting the water into the crawlspace. I didn't want to buy a massive hammer drill so I ran a pipe through one of the little ventilation windows.
PVC pipe running from the barrels to the house.
PVC pipe going through the ventilation screen. Most of the pipe is buried under an inch or two of dirt.
I put hose fittings on both ends of the PVC pipe. Inside the crawlspace I included a shutoff valve. I wasn't sure that this setup was going to work. It requires the pump to pull the water from several feet away, and it has to lift it up the pipe and through the window. The pump had to lift the water in its previous position, but it was much closer to the source.
I have the pump sitting on the floor for now.  Eventually I'd like to mount it to something more permanent. I connected a garden hose to it just to verify that it would work.
The pump was able to move the water from the barrels through the hose.
The next step was to connect the pump to the PEX tubing and pressure tank. I used the old washer machine hose that I had used previously. Sadly, it had slow leaks at both ends. I put the pump on a bucket to help deal with that.
I was able to pressurize the system to 46 psi or so. The pump is supposed to shut off at 55 psi. I got on the old Internet and looked up how to adjust the shutoff switch. It took a little playing around, but eventually I got the pump to shut off  around 53 psi. That was good enough for me.
Then I unplugged the pump, shut off the supply line, and drained the pressurized side. I need to get new washers for my supply hoses before hooking it up again. I can't have water leaking in my crawlspace.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Starting seeds for the 2017 garden

I haven't written anything in a while. There hasn't been a lot going on around the old homestead.

Anyway, I've had good luck with the Jiffy greenhouse kit in the past. So I used one again this year.
I started 3 rows of tomatoes back in January. 
They didn't take long to come up. I also started peppers on multiple occasions. Some of them didn't germinate at all. Others did, but they took forever. 
I transplanted the tomatoes to pots. When the weather is nice I put them outside in the sun.
Most of the time the plants are under lights in the garage.
The picture below is more tomatoes that I started later. I like to stagger my seed starting so I don't get all of my tomatoes at once.
The picture below is mostly peppers. It took multiple attempts, but they finally seem to be taking off.  I transplanted most of them to bigger pots today.
Peppers in the bigger pots.
Here are the peppers under lights. They're so small. I can't imagine that they will be ready to go into the ground in the middle of April. That's only a few weeks away.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rainwater usage update & analysis

At the beginning of October I reset my flow meter to zero.  I wanted to measure exactly how much rainwater I used in one month.

The result?  I used 607.7 gallons. That was for flushing a toilet, washing cars, and watering the lawn.  I wanted to use up what I had in the barrels.  Good thing I did too, because it went below freezing in the first week of November.
My sophisticated gauge showed that my barrels were empty on November 2.  I used a shop vac to remove the inch or two of water that was left in the bottom of each barrel.  Then I disconnected the hoses from the pump and briefly ran it to get any remaining water out.

So what are the results? 

I've been saving my water bills for the last few months.  I think the results are inconclusive.  The bills range from 28 to 34 days so I can't compare total gallons used.  Thankfully the water company is kind enough to list the average daily usage.  They even include a handy-dandy graph.
My average daily water use for my August bill (July 08 to August 05) was 125 gallons.  I ran rain water to my toilet on August 13.  I expected to see a drop in water usage on the next bill.  But it hardly made a difference.  My average daily usage for my September bill (August 05 to September 08) was 123 gallons.  My usage dropped only 2 gallons per day!

The October bill is where things got interesting.  It ran from September 08 to October 07.  My daily average usage for it was 100 gallons.  That was a big drop.  I have no explanation as to why.  My most recent bill (October 07 to November 07) average usage was 119 gallons.  That was with the toilet back on the house water for the last 5 days of that billing cycle. 

I don't know what to make of these results.  I was expecting to see fairly significant (5-10 or more gallons per day) drops in my water usage, and I only saw that during one month.  It hardly made a difference in the other months.  I can say that my bills would have been higher without the rainwater.  I'll certainly keeping an eye on this next year.  It'll be interesting to compare those graphs year-to-year.