OT -filling in a cistern?
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  1. #1
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    I have a couple of cisterns next to our house and would like to fill them up. We're a bit worried since we have 3 little expolers. I have thought of filling them up with rocks, bricks, sand, etc. but am concerned with all the extra water that would be left down there that could someday give me a wet basement problem. Cement could cost a bunch -the one cistern is almost 10 sq feet. A friend of mine sugested that I contact my county extension office to see if there might be a way of having it done, but have not gotten to that yet. Anyone out there tackled one of these? Thanks

    Luke

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    drain them and bust a hole in bottom and fill with
    rocks,dirt,sand,etc.
    ...lew...

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    Drill some holes thru the bottom, then fill 'em up.
    I just finished filling in an old swimming pool that had several leaks in it.
    Drilled holes thru the concrete, then filled it in with rock, sand, busted concrete, and topsoil.

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    As mentioned, punch holes in the bottom of the cistern to allow the cistern to drain if any ground water or from the water table would happen to enter it.

    When you fill it, use rock or sand. Do not use dirt, clay or organic matter like wood. You do not want the fill to settle and create a void that will result in a sink hole later.

    Depending on the cistern, its placement and construction, you may want to reconsider filling them all in. When dry and properly prepared, they make excellent storm shelters and underground storage.

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    Hi Luke,

    Alot of cisterns were used to collect rain water for flowers or the garden as it makes for a healthly plant, no chorline.

    You can easy pour a cement top with lifting eyes with a vent tube so the cistern could be sealed from the little ones but give access to reseal when needed. Use cement and water with a dash of dish soap for a sealer.

    T_Bone

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    Had one behind my house when I bought it. It was already crumbling, so I knocked the top into it and had a buddy drop a dumptruck load of mill run stone into it. Covered it with dirt, planted grass over it, and forgot it. That was 25 years ago. Prolly hadn't thought about it for ten years.

    Just a thought for you guys talking about drilling holes in the bottom...Lots of men have died in those damn things. Noxious gasses build up...I think methane...and kill people that crawl in. About 20 years ago we lost two people out here in NW Ohio in a cistern...one was cleaning his cistern, and when it got too quiet, his buddy climbed in to see why. I belive the gasses come from the decomposition of organic material that washes in. That's why I knocked the top down and poured stone in and hardly even looked over the edge...

    OMcG

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    Do as your frend says, seeing that your from IA. and contack the county extension office. They have plans and there may even be some cost share too, plus the EPA may need to stick there nose in this as IA has some trickey ground water rules.

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    Fill in a cistern? What a waste. Holes are expensive and they can be re-cycled. Pull your cistern out and saw it onto fence post holes or collect them until you have enough to make a basement or an oil well.

    (I predict this thread goes downhill from this point)

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    Forrest is right;it does go down hill.What is a cistern?Is it what other folks call a septic tank?I live in the south and I've not heard the term "cistern" described like it's being described here.People around here use a "cistern" as an underground water holding tank.They use a septic tank to...well...hold shit.period.

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    Pull it out like Forrest says ... and deliver it to the front lawn of your county or EPA office. Sounds like IA has lost many of its freedoms and is turning into a major bureaucratic state.

    Don't get me wrong though. If the tank held waste from an old plating process, dumped on with old industrial drainage or something equally nasty, it need to be handled properly.

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    Cistern = water tank, typically used to store
    rainwater runoff in arid regions, or in areas
    where well water is full of disolved minerals
    and unsuitable for washing.

    Septic tank =~ Cesspool = Repository for
    used food.

    Jim

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  16. #12
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    Hope you meant 10 feet square, not 10 square feet as that would not hold a lot of water. If the former that is another room to use for a multitude of things, a hidyhole, a safe, root cellar, etc. I would make an entrance from your cellar. Once drained and any entrances for water are blocked it could be a handy place.

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    Where I live if you were to contact the county they'd want you to get a permit which you pay for, a before and after inspection which you pay for and if you can't produce the original permit for when it was installed a hundred years ago they'd fine you for that. If by reading this you get the idea that I'm a little sick of all the govermental interference in day to day life you may just be right.

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    If it were me, I would fill it in without punching any holes in the bottom. That would let dirty water drain directly into the subsurface water table and could contaminate your well or your neighbor's well. Who cares if the thing still holds water if it is filled up with rock and dirt? You will be knocking out the top two or three feet anyway to get a smooth surface, so the ground will dry out at least that far and won't be softer than any other part of the yard. The big thing is don't contaminate the ground water. That's why the government got involved in the first place.

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    some of you guys kill me. in kentucky,the land of beautiful horses and fast women, there are cisterns where you hold the water (h20) that you intend to cook your food, wash your dishes,and quench your thirst. if you wish to participate in a bowel movement you go to the out house with your old sears catalouge. which reminds me.
    a few years ago a man was arrested in kentucky for smuggling books into the state,but the charges were dropped. seems no one there could prove they were books...jim

  20. #16
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    The house I live in here in Suburbia-gone-amok belonged to my great-grandparents, built in 1888.
    They didnt get "city water" until 1913. Meanwhile there is a loose, brick-laid cistern out in the back yard, with a concrete cap and a small hunk of slate over the 1-foot opening.

    Seems that rainwater was collected off the roof, and channelled into the cistern. When it filled up near to the top, another pipe took it into the house basement, where it filled another hand-dug, loose brick well. From there, the old folks hand pumped it up into the kitchen. Apparently water was stored in the basement well so it wouldnt freeze like in the cistern.

    Yes, they drank this stuff, washed and cooked with it too, and did their nasty business out in the one-holer about 20 ft away. And lived to 96 and 100 years old ! Modern plumbing at its finest.

    I'd like to get the cistern working again, for the garden, etc., but not deliver it into the basement well -- that one I filled in when I poured the floor.

  21. #17
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    My in-laws just got city water a few years ago. Dad-in-law had a water-hauling business serving the other folks with no city water. The wells locally have solvent contamination (N Ohio near Sandusky).

    They used cistern water for everything. The cistern held hauled in water if necessary, plus all the downspouts went in so as to avoid that as long as possible.

    Cistern is still used for garden watering.

    They laugh about all the folks who move into an old house and are freaked about the "nasty old" cistern.....nothing wrong with them so long as they don't leak. Leaks are bad cuz they leak surface water in.

    I'd put a good top on, and lead the downspouts to it. Never know when you might need a few thousand gallons of decent unpolluted water.

    Make the top fairly easy to remove (not cemented up, etc), or better yet, put a 12" or so hole with removable cap so the fire department can drop a suction hose in if necessary. Ask, they can tell you the diameter of their strainers.
    You just never know.

  22. #18
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    Some excellent ideas. I like the idea of poking holes in them. The one cistern has a 2 foot round cement cover on it that I have never pushed off to look in. My 7 year old son had it pushed back a bit one day and I had to explain to him that dad would not be able to get him out if he fell in. He definatley understood after the conversation by looking at the color of his face and the extra rocks I found piled on it the next day. It dosn't have any spouts draining to it so I'm not sure why it's there. The other one is 10 x 10 x 10 and is basically a cement patio between the house and garage with a light weight man hole cover and a spigit to the basment. I've considered using it for the toilet to save money on city water or watering the lawn, garden etc. It has one down spot "plumbed" in. I think ultimatly I'd feal better if they were filled in and should have requested that 3 years ago when we bought the place. I will try and contact the county when I get a chance to see what they have to offer. I'm sure Iowa is full of these things and they have been asked before. Thanks for the input.
    Luke

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    Ferrous Antiquos.


    How did you fill in the cistern that was in the basement? When did you do this? How much did it cost?


    Thanks!!!

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    The noxious gases in the cistern is carbon dioxide, CO2. CO2 is heavier than air and will settle in low places like mines, wells, cisterns, etc. Its not that CO2 will kill, its that it displaces the oxygen so going into a place like that requires either ventilation or a breathing mask and pump like divers use. Often you will see telephone or linemen working in a pit the in ground with a blower and big flexible tube going into the access. That's for breathing.

    Tom


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