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Thread: Cistern

  1. #1
    Vince Santos's Avatar
    Vince Santos Guest

    Default Cistern

    This is the first time I have come across this type of item. My thoughts are it's a cistern?

    The water was relatively clean but certainly not potable. The buyer was worried about the possibility of her kid falling in.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
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    4,517

    Default Re: Cistern

    Vince,

    We had a little girl many years ago here in Texas that fell in one about that size.

    Anyone remember the Baby Jessica story? It was on national TV at the time.


  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Cistern

    That looks like a septic tank access hole.

    Did the house have a well or public water supply?


  4. #4
    Vince Santos's Avatar
    Vince Santos Guest

    Default Re: Cistern

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    That looks like a septic tank access hole.

    Did the house have a well or public water supply?
    Septic and Well.

    Considering the home was vacant for a while perhaps it could be septic and the solid/sludge has settled to the bottom thus explaining how the water was relatively "clean" looking.

    Rick,
    I remember that story.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    1,217

    Default Re: Cistern

    Vince,

    Did you see any evidence of a pump or piping associated with this tank? Cisterns around here typically have a pump and pressure tank somewhat like houses with a well.

    Was this tank located above (higher in elevation than) the house? If so, it is more likely it is a cistern than a septic tank. ($#!+ flows downhill.)

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Cistern

    This was the last cistern that I found. This cistern was a mound that was made from cut stone and was a good 40' feet in depth. It was about ten feet higher than the home. The first picture is the cistern the second it the historical society name plate with the homes date.

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    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
    Vince Santos's Avatar
    Vince Santos Guest

    Default Re: Cistern

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    Vince,

    Did you see any evidence of a pump or piping associated with this tank? Cisterns around here typically have a pump and pressure tank somewhat like houses with a well.

    Was this tank located above (higher in elevation than) the house? If so, it is more likely it is a cistern than a septic tank. ($#!+ flows downhill.)

    Actually this was at a lower level than the home. While the water was not very dirty I could not see any type of pump. I did however see what appeared to be a metal or clay drain pipe.

    The well house was on the other side of the home.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Cistern

    With it being on the lower side, 99% chance that it is an old septic tank.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default Re: Cistern

    Yep. I agree.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  10. #10
    Bruce Thomas's Avatar
    Bruce Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Cistern

    With the well house up hill and on the other side of the house it is most likely a septic tank.

    Keep this in mind though. A cistern has to be filled by either a spring or the down spouts of the house or both which means it could be on the down hill side of the house. Most cistern pumps are inside the house or in a pit outside. They are low suction (not the right term) because they don't have to draw water from depth. In addition they usually have a filter system of some type. I have seen septic like tanks without the baffle used as cisterns.

    The only way to be sure is to do a dye test to see if the drains are flowing into it. If they aren't and its not suppling water and you are very sure it has no propose, I would suggest filling it in with pea gravel and sand. At least bury the lid.

    I remember the well story too and I don't want the call from Jessica's mom.

    Bruce


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Corpus Christi, TX
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    Default Re: Cistern

    In Maryland, we had Baby Jessica parties after she was found. The incident also resulted in intensified inspections of all wells, septic systems, and dry wells across the State, looking for open pits.

    As you have said it is down hill of the house, I have doubts that it is a cistern. It looks an awful lot like the dry wells we had. We'd sometimes have two or three on the property to collect the ground water that would super saturate the ground after big snows followed by spring thaws and rains. The intent was to help keep the houses from sliding down the hills. They were dug very deep and would release water into the ground as it dried out enough to accept it. Sometimes, plumbing from an over flow on the septic tank would also be run into them because it could take weeks before the fields could handle it.

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    - Paul Fix

  12. #12
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    Fuquay Varina, NC
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    Default Re: Cistern

    I have come across something that looks just like that once. It was a grease trap tank before the septic tank.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

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