Saturday, July 21, 2012

Owning a Home in the Virgin Islands - Repairs - Cistern

As you may remember, we recently painted our pool and filled it from our cistern which needed to be drained as we had several cracks in the cistern and who knows how long ago it was cleaned and re-sealed. We were originally told we would be without water for about 10 days. In anticipation of having no water, we stocked up with buckets of water to make it through that time and luckily at our marina, we were able to rent showers for the time.

So the day came, water shut off and cistern was almost drained!

Once they have the cistern drained (ours is underneath our entire living and kitchen area and is about 26,000 gallons) they need to power wash it and drain out the remains. This process took about 2 days. At that point they fill in the cracks with quick drying cement. 24 hours to let that dry. Then the painting of the new sealer, Thermaseal. That takes about 2 days as they do two coats. Problem was, we had rain one night and had to postpone the 2nd coat as water leaked through our downspout plugs. Once all the coating is done you are to wait 7 days for it to cure and let the sealer leach out the minerals. Most of the cistern companies down here go ahead right away in fill it. Shannon checked out the manufacturer's website and once again, island mentality with just get it done. The real issue with filling it right away is you will have a salt like, smelly substance in the cistern.

After letting the sealer cure for a week, it was time to get back down there and replace the foot valve as the old one was dirty and whomever put it in the last time left at at the bottom of the cistern which would then suck up and the crap from the bottom. A little cutting with a hacksaw, some PVC glue and viola, new foot valve. One of the final steps to the cistern is to come back after cure time and spray salt water rinse and get that out of the bottom. Many companies don't do this either.

Now the time has come, after two weeks of no water, I was given the OK to order the water truck! We ordered 5250 gallons for $370. Because our cistern is so big, this filled it up about a foot or halfway up the picture above on the foot valve pipe. Regardless, to have running water again!!!!

So, now is the time we had been waiting for, getting the pump going again and have running water! Not so fast, as with everything here, nothing is easy! The pump would run but never shut off, which is bad as the pump will get hot and burn out! On the phone with a plumber, oh he can't come out for another 3 days. To hell with the plumber, it is time for "Water Pumps, this is Ken!" On the phone with Larry the Water Guy, we diagnose the problem (after many attempts and getting sprayed in the face) it is a bad pressure switch. Good news is we can still use the water, just have to unplug the pump until I can install a new pressure switch.

The next day off to Home Depot for a 20/40 PSI switch. Nope they don't carry them, even though most of the homes here have cisterns. Off to East End Lumber and purchase a new one for $19. Installed in less than an hour and no problems since! More good news, we are moving into our rainy season now and just had about an inch of new rain which translated into about 3 more inches in the cistern!

Here was the old switch!

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