Pumphouse – planning ahead for water treatment

Left - treated. Right - straight from the well.

I’m working on plans for the new pump house to be built this summer.  Part of that planning involves making room for water treatment.  I had Vil Hafoka, a water treatment specialist for Water Doctor of Washington stop by yesterday to help nail down some details.

While Vil was here he tested our water.  Iron is non-existent, the water’s relatively soft (hardness of 2), TDS is 28 (good).  pH, though, was off the scale acid.  In the photo you’ll see two tubes of water.  The left is out of our drinking/cooking water cistern (filtered water with oyster shell in the bottom to moderate the pH).  The pH is about 7.4 which is within the range of normal human body pH.

The tube on the right is right out of the well, unfiltered, untreated.  It’s testing at below 6.0 using my test chart which starts at six.  Vil’s more sophisticated test puts the pH below 5.5, registering between 5.2 and 5.3 but still running off his scale in acidity.  Anything below 5.5 is considered hazardous for continuous ingestion.  <wince>  I’ve known the pH of our water is an issue, I just didn’t know it was this much of an issue.  It’s a good thing we’ve been treating it for drinking/cooking.

We already treat everything that goes into any of the fish tanks with oyster shell to adjust the pH.  What I haven’t been treating is ALL the water we pump out of the well (animal water, laundry, showers, etc.), which is what I have to start doing.  I’m thinking it’s better not to wait until the new pumphouse is up sometime this summer before I make this happen.  I need a home-grown system that will fix the pH . . . now.

Because adding oyster shell to our little storage cistern is producing pH safe water, there’s no reason I can’t build an efficient yet inexpensive system using oyster shell to adjust our pH on the fly.  Here’s the plan.

I have a 8′ long piece of 4″ schedule 80 (thick walled) acrylic pipe which will make a great see-through filter body.  With fittings I’ll see if I can build a flow-through oyster shell filter.

With the pipe mounted vertically, I will have to plumb an inlet line at the bottom and an outlet line at the top.  The outlet where the treated water leaves the filter needs a cleanable screen to keep the oyster shell from being washed out of the column.  The inlet will have an inlet strainer to keep the oyster shell off the inlet to let the water disperse into the oyster shell.

The top of the tube will need a cleanout plug mounted to a Y.  One branch of the Y can be used for the outlet and the the other can be used to restocked the filter with shell.  Easy parts list with everything schedule 80 to handle house pressure (60psi).

  • 4″ Y, end cap and plug
  • 2 4″-2″ reducers, one for the inlet, the other for the outlet
  • 2 2″ connectors, one for the inlet, the other for the outlet
  • Inlet screen
  • Outlet screen
  • Can of the appropriate cement
  • Two adapters to connect inline to existing piping.
  • Oyster shell tofill within 10″ of the top
  • Mounting hardware to get and keep the pipe vertical

That’s the plan, subject to change as Lorr and I work this out.

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