Water has always tested man’s mastery of his environment in two different ways. First, the more elaborate his shelter, the more vigilant the occupant must be to prevent damage from storms, floods and condensation. Secondly, to sustain life and today’s standards of hygiene water must be made available within the shelter when needed, even when man visits outer space.
Today’s HouseMastery, therefore, includes a working knowledge of water supply maintenance, not just the damage prevention routines detailed in earlier columns.
Like city dwellers, most suburbanites and even many rural homeowners depend on water sources and maintenance procedures seemingly beyond their control. You reach for the faucet and there is little you can do in advance to assure the color, purity, volume or pressure of what enters your home’s piping system. An individual well can seem to offer greater command over one’s water source. Yet all wells draw from vast, migrating water tables which are subject to pollution or development that some water tables can support.
The HouseMaster recognizes, therefore, that the first measure of control is to remain alert and responsive to all threats to the water supply, whether the supply is provided to the entire community or an individual well. Unlike a municipal customer, however, the homeowner with a private well must assume command of the supply itself, not just the in-house distribution system. This means water samples should be periodically sent to a qualified water-testing lab for purity testing. Most labs provide suggested remedial measures, if needed. And although most samples are tested for human coliform bacteria, additional samples may be needed to test for additional contaminants.
HouseMastery, for a well owner, also includes inspection and maintenance of the system that controls the volume and pressure of the water supply. Submersible pumps, suspended at the end of the water pipe, are common today. They “push” a column of water up from the depths often needed to reach a relatively clean supply, rather than “pull” it less efficiently from above.
Most submersible installations include a combined storage/pressure tank inside the home, near the electrical control box. In such installations, there’s a pressure regulator in the pipe between the well and the tank, with both upper and lower limit switches. The switches turn on the pump automatically when the pressure drops tot eh low limit and shut it off when the upper limit is reached. An air pocket within the tank, compressed by the incoming water, provides the pressure.
The tanks purpose is to avoid having the pump operate against a full column of water every time someone wants a glass filled. The HouseMaster, therefore, must maintain the protective air pocket inside the tank, or face a major service cost for pulling up and replacing the pump earlier than necessary. Re-pressuring can be done quickly and easily. But procedure and pressures vary, depending on the size and make of the tank. HouseMastery need entail nothing more than opening a faucet, checking the time it takes before the pump starts operating, and then calling a professional well service if the pump operates too frequently.
The tank, incidentally, should be wrapped in an insulating jacket if it is located in an area where humid air can contact the relatively cold tank and cause damaging condensation. This situation illustrates a typical example of man’s need to deal with both the benefits and dangers of daily water use.