Coastal Stuff

Our Money Pit

07.26.12 | Comment?

We really love everything about our house, except the plumbing. It’s a fiddly, complex system that has kept our very attentive plumber busy for the 8 years we’ve been here.

The complexity exists because when the home was built, the local water system was not accepting new connections and thus we are using a well. It’s a shallow well in the grand scheme of things and a low-flow well to boot. So, we have a pump at the bottom of the well that lifts water to the surface, slowly as the first bit of fiddly. That pump has a controller that is, shall we say, delicate and needs frequent recalibration.

Since the well is low-flow, it can’t sustain household requirements from its natural supply capability which leads to a 2,500 gallon water storage tank as an intermediary. If the well pump or controller goes awry, the storage tank drains and we use the water in the tank until there is no more. It takes about a day to refill the tank assuming I can get the source pump back in trim to do the job alone. Add plumber response time to that if I can’t.

The next bit of fiddly is the internal balanced flow pump which takes water from the storage tank and pressurizes it for use in our household. It also consists of a pump (submerged in the storage tank) and balky controller that requires frequent attention. Coupled with this is an ozone water purifier/filtration system which seems to be mostly reliable.

Then of course, we have all the “regular” plumbing of water heater, distribution pipes, valves, fixtures, toilets, etc. which pretty much function as you would expect. Which means that washers are being replaced in frequently used fixtures etc.

Now, Montara’s electrical supply is not what we would consider to be first-world quality. We have frequent brownout conditions and outright electrical outages as well. This situation only accelerates as the weather deteriorates. It’s bad enough when the weather is good. If the power is off, we have no water (see pumps above.) If the power is in brownout mode, the controllers for one or both pumps go pear-shaped. If a pump happens to be powered on and pumping during one of these conditions, then it has to be recalibrated at the well head.

Have I mentioned yet, that despite being a pretty handy guy, I hate plumbing!

This morning’s wonderful development is that while we have water – yay! – there is no hot water. Apparently the water heater is now going. I’ve known about a pinhole sized leak in the interior for about 3 months and decided to nurse it along until replacement was the only option. We may have reached that point today.

We love our home, really. But this plumbing stuff makes it feel like The Money Pit some days. If a person in the developing world happened to read this, I know, First World Problems. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

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