Wednesday, April 13 2011
It was a cool rainy day and I spent much of it on a long-neglected project: the brownhouse plumbing system. Most of that system was already in place: an indoor cistern automatically filled by rainwater and sink with a working drain (utilizing a freeze-resistant dry well). The missing part was a faucet. I'd actually bought a suitable industrial kitchen faucet, the kind I can swing out of the wall when lifting the upper sink away from the lower one (remember, there are actually two sinks: one for hand washing, and a big 20 gallon lower one that collects water from the upper one and is useful for occasions when you have something nasty or unusually tender in desperate need of cleansing (most modern bathrooms provide no such facility, though it's a handy one to have). But the job of hooking up that faucet was a large enough one to erect a wall of procrastination around itself. Today, though, I decided to get cracking on it.
I soldered together a set of half-inch pipes with the fittings for the new sink such that I could attach the whole thing to the brownhouse wall near the sink. After that, all I needed to do was run a pipe up to the cistern. To keep failure modes to a minimum, I'd decided not to add any additional penetrations to the cistern beyond the inlet from the roof gutter system. This meant that the faucet would have to siphon from the cistern, which meant I'd have to prime the pipes before they would work. To help with this, I added a small tap to which I could temporarily attach a suction bulb. One suck from that bulb would get everything working. Since all the plumbing is copper, I'll have to be sure to drain it during the two months of the year when freezing temperatures are common in the brownhouse. In the winter, the suction bulb can also be used to insert air into the siphon line, allowing it to drain out and be safe for freezing.
Once I had the system in place, it worked well, with water on demand just from turning a tap. The only real downside was the low pressure and volume of the water, a consequence of the eye-level height of the cistern and the narrow (quarter-inch) siphon line. But then again, how much water do you really need to wash your hands after taking a poop?
My new faucet.
With the upper sink.
About as big as the stream from the faucet gets.
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