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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Improving my water system
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RussT
Member
# Posted: 14 May 2020 15:10
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I am a long-time reader but first time poster.

At my cabin I use lake water for the shower and toilet. I carry in 5-gallon bottles of city water for dish washing, and I carry in 1-gallon bottles of distilled water for drinking and cooking. We heat up pots of water on the stove for dishes. Lake water is available at the kitchen sink (hot and cold) but we don't use it because it is untreated except for a sediment filter.

Those 5-gallon jugs are getting harder for me to manage as I get older so I'm trying to design a low-cost alternative. I have ruled out a drilled well because the cost is expected to be $17,000 minimum.

I am considering the following minimalist solution:
1. Cap off the current lake water supply from the hot water tank to the kitchen.
2. At the lake water cold supply line to the kitchen, insert a point of use ceramic filter which would feed a 10-gallon water storage tank with float valve.
3. Install a pump to supply water from the storage tank to the cold faucet in the kitchen and to a small point of use hot water tank.
4. Plumb the hot water tank to the kitchen hot faucet.

We are used to using water very sparingly right now so a low volume system should meet our needs. When just my wife and I are at the cabin we use 6-7 gallons of water bottled water a day.

I have a spare pump. The cost for everything else is expected to be under $1,000 which I can afford. I haven't yet factored in a method of protecting the pump when the water storage tank is low (even though I don't expect it to happen). I'm not sure what I need to solve this problem. I presume I will also need a small pressure tank, but they are not expensive. I will do the labour part myself.

So now I need your helpful questions, comments and criticisms. Maybe there's a better solution that is simpler. All your thoughts would be most appreciated.

RussT

Ontario lakeside
Member
# Posted: 14 May 2020 20:27
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I would suggest leaving your system as is, just use a ceramic countertop filter to make your lake water potable. Just pour water in the top as needed. We have done 10 day camping trips and relied on them when all we had access to was not very clean water.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 08:00
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Or you could use the lake water system you alreaty have a use a UV water light inline. There about $400-500 and can kill all bacteria with no chlorine smell or taste. This is what some municipal systems use. There also very little maintenance.

We use one on our full time home with 50' deep well.

RussT
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 08:35
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Thanks for those suggestions. My thinking process started with a well but the cost was too high for my wallet at this time.

Then I considered a UV system. Our lake is silty and tea coloured so some added filtering would be required. When you add up the costs and consider the possibility of nasties getting past the light, a UV system became less attractive.

Then I thought about an undersink ceramic filter - possibly a multi-stage type. This is easy to install and maintain, and quite affordable. It's a step up from a countertop unit, and I pretty much settled on that.

These units have a low flow rate which I could live with. You have an additional small faucet on the counter with a flow that can fill a glass in 10 or 15 seconds. But then I started to think about some bells and whistles. What if I could run the output to a storage tank and pump it to the existing cold water tap? I would have a much better flow rate. And while I'm at it, why not pump from the storage tank to a water heater on the way to the hot water tap? No more heating water on the stove. Luxury!

I might just put in the undersink unit for starters. $300-$400 and I don't have to carry jugs of water anymore.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 08:44
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Though it's not clear, it reads like you have an on-demand pump serving lake water to the cabin right now... a pressurised system with an inline sediment filter. If you want to insure all of your water is free of harmful bacteria.... Could you not install a 3 stage filter system with the last filter being 1 micron so as to eliminate harmful bacteria. For extra protection your ceramic filter .... or a UV light as Brett suggested... on the cold side to supply safer drinking water.

A lot of us use Shurflo RV pumps to pressurize our in cabin water systems, no pressure tank is needed.

We backpack a lot and often drink lake water once ran through a ceramic filter (Sawyer). A countertop system using a Big Berkey as Ontario suggested would allow you to have clean drinking water and not have to change anything.

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 09:19
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I agree a big berkey will solve your drinking water issue. A few drops of bleach would solve your dishwater issue and carrying in a gallon of bleach once a year is a lot easier

I run lake water through a filter cloth to a tote. That is then treated with bleach. That water serves as shower and dish water.

Drinking water I bring some jugs and filter some. We had the filter water tested just to be on the safe side.
If I have room I bring water but the jugs are getting heavy. If not I just filter.

RussT
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 09:59
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Lots of great suggestions. Thanks to all.

Nobadays, you are correct. I have a 1/2 hp pump with pressure tank at the lake that pumps up to a pressure tank at the cabin. On/off pressure is 30/50 at the lake but that drops to 10/30 up at the cabin. Not ideal but adequate.

It would be simple to add a couple of additional filters as you have suggested. We would still have to heat water on the stove for dishes.

The lake water goes through the water heater and we use that water for showering. It is also available in the kitchen but we don't currently use it there. Chlorine may be a satisfactory way to make the lake water suitable for dishwashing. I'll research that alternative as well.

Ontario lakeside
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 10:35
Reply 


Its not really necessary to chlorinate the water you use for dishwashing. Warm lake water, dish soap and drying are more than adequate.

qbodsyt
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 10:56
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Quoting: Ontario lakeside
Its not really necessary to chlorinate the water you use for dishwashing. Warm lake water, dish soap and drying are more than adequate.


I concur, our family cottage for the past 50+ years has had a pump from the lake through a sediment filter up to a holding tank, we have always used it for dishwashing and hand washing with soap and never had a problem.

SE Ohio
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 13:51
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Could also pump lake water to a holding tank, treat this water (1/4 cup bleach/55 gallons water is one way) then pump this water to sink/ shower, lake water could supply toilet

SE Ohio

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 16:06
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My cheap $8 and $11 for 2 packs home depot filters I run on my system with UV dont let anything through. I can actually tell when to change them when the flow drops. We have been drinking this water for 9 years. UV works.

I'm sure there are other ways to get a majority of the silt out prior to the cheap $4 yarn filter. Either way your hardly useing water if it's not a full time home. If your going to do it filter it all.

You guys are rinsing dishes with non potable water? Where did you see that wasn't going to get you sick?

RussT
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 17:33 - Edited by: RussT
Reply 


One thing is crystal clear: my idea in the original post isn't attracting any support. It appears I am overthinking the problem (not unusual for me).

I've had lots of great suggestions which I'll chew on for a few days. I'm leaning towards an under-sink ceramic system or UV. I'll try to remember to update this thread when I make my decision, but in case I forget, thanks to all of you for your help with this.

justinbowser
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 19:09
Reply 


If you do UV it goes after the filters. That way there are no particulates for the bugs to hide behind. We catch rainwater, filter, run through the UV sterilizer and it tastes just like bottled water.

qbodsyt
Member
# Posted: 15 May 2020 23:09
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
You guys are rinsing dishes with non potable water? Where did you see that wasn't going to get you sick?


54 years and three generations doing it. Maybe our Canadian lake water is just not as toxic

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 16 May 2020 05:35
Reply 


Quoting: qbodsyt
54 years and three generations doing it. Maybe our Canadian lake water is just not as toxic


You may not have anything pooping in it. UV dosnt take away toxans just bacteria.


You should really do some research prior to drinking any natural water like this.

Also your going to need to filter it prior to a ceramic filter just like UV.

qbodsyt
Member
# Posted: 16 May 2020 09:15
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
You should really do some research prior to drinking any natural water like this.


We aren't drinking it, both Ontario lakeside and myself were discussing it for dishwashing. Its filtered for sediment, heated in a hot water tank and used for dishwashing. That's it, we have never used it as drinking water and we didn't say anyone should.

RussT
Member
# Posted: 16 May 2020 09:18
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
Also your going to need to filter it prior to a ceramic filter just like UV.


That's a good point. I now have just a 5 micron sediment filter. The water at the tap is noticeably tanin-stained if it's in a large clear container. You probably wouldn't notice the colour in a drinking glass.

There is still some tiny particles that get past the filter on occasion that you probably wouldn't see but that eventually clog the faucet aerators. I believe the tanins can impede a UV light and may not be caught by a ceramic filter.

I think I will need at least two more filters: a finer sediment filter and a charcoal filter. Is that right?

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 16 May 2020 13:24
Reply 


Quoting: qbodsyt
We aren't drinking it, both Ontario lakeside and myself were discussing it for dishwashing. Its filtered for sediment, heated in a hot water tank and used for dishwashing. That's it, we have never used it as drinking water and we didn't say anyone should.

I was talking to russT. Either way if you rinse with unfiltered water and eat from a wet utensil your at risk.


RussT.
I'm not sure what micron in needed to remove what you need to. You will have to look that up. But I can tell you a charcoal filter makes the water taste very good and that is one of my two filters prior to my Uv light. I buy them in a 2pack for $11 at home depot. If you alreaty have a filter why not get another housing that takes the same filter and mess around with it?

I like the filter housings that are clear, so you can see what's going on.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-Whole-House-Water-Filtration-System-GXWH20S/202073874

clintondiya
Member
# Posted: 19 May 2020 04:03
Reply 


This may seem odd, but our house when we bought it had lower pressure, we had assumed because we were near the top of a hill, that was just how it goes and pondered a pressure booster.

Several months later, when doing something else with our water, I found that the knob going into the house wasn't all the way open. I'm annoyed that it took us a few months but happy we didn't go and get a booster.

Type6ix
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2020 07:40
Reply 


I bit the bullet and drilled a well. I figured the sooner I did it the longer return on my investment. That being said I used river water for years for the shower, toilet, and washing machine.
I used two inline filters. Just be ready to constantly clean the filters and suction point underwater.

skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 20 May 2020 16:54
Reply 


We fill a holding tank in our crawl space from a spring fed spot under an old building. We dont filter it and have been using that water for showers and dishes for years and years and never an issue....we dont drink it. We carry in 5 gallon jugs of drinking water for the time being but I have been researching the berkey filters for some time to make drinking water.

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