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Thread: Cisterns

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    26

    Default Cisterns

    Hi to All,

    We recently purchased a large 1896 home in Cincinnati. There are 5 cisterns on the property. We have located 4 of them. One is a HUGE hole, at least 9 feet wide, and it is located on the side patio of the house, not far from the exterior walls of the basement. This big one has a metal covering about 24 inches wide, and it looks to have standing water at least 6 feet deep.

    Other than the obvious hazard of a child falling into the cistern, are there any hazards to having so many cisterns on the property? Any benefits? What would be the reason that we have all these cisterns?

    We are on city water and sewer, and do not need the cisterns to provide drinking water. Is there an easy way to use this water in the cisterns to water the lawn and flowers?

    Thanks in advance for any input you can provide. This is my first experience with having cisterns on the property.

    Sincerely,

    Donna
    Fleetwood

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Cisterns

    Donna,
    Cisterns use to be common and were often piped into the basement. Cisterns collect rain water which was used to wash laundry, peoples hair , etc because it was soft water. If they are piped into the basement then it should be easy to connect to a sprinkler system for the lawn if not a pump system would have to be added. Considering the cost of water in the cities I would utilize them as much as possible. Sewer bills are also generally based on metered water usage.

    Check in the basement, a lot of times you will find sinks with three spigots, hot, cold, and cistern. That's the way it was in my great aunts house and she always washed her hair in that sink.
    Jack
    Last edited by JLMCDANIEL; 07-02-2009 at 10:17 PM.
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Cisterns

    Hi Jack,

    Great to see you on this thread! Thanks for the details about cisterns. I will pass your info on to Ryan. There is a very dirty and iicky sink in the basement - it's one of the things that I did not yet get around to cleaning. I'll ask him to look and see if it has 3 taps. I was also thinking it would be good water for the lawn and flowers. Would one be able to use a sump pump to get the water out of the cistern and into a hose for yard use? The house has gutters and downspouts, and I was wondering if the downspouts might go directly into the cisterns.

    Later!

    Donna
    Fleetwood

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Cisterns

    Yes, to both your questions. A cistern is just a big rain barrel used to collect rain water from the downspouts. Because it contained no minerals like the well water it was preferred for uses like laundry, dish washing, and even hair washing. most times they are installed with a line running to the scullery where most washing and and food preparation was done before it went to the kitchen. By the way you may not have city water in the basement, it may all be cistern water.

    If you have a line running into the house you can tie a pump and sprinkler system to it there or use a sump pump.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Cisterns

    Very interesting! Thanks, Jack! I did take a look at one of the downspout photos I have; it goes straight into the concrete patio on the side of the house, so the water must go to a cistern somewhere. I think that it must route to the fifth cistern that John did not yet find. Yet another mystery to be solved!

    Later!

    Donna
    Fleetwood

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