When one lives off-grid, you are generally your own fix it person, not always, but often. That is certainly true for us, we designed, built and maintain our off-grid system, all the utilities that would normally be in the purview of the utility companies or a commercial repair service company, we take care of ourselves.
One of the big things we take care of has to do with our water system. When we first moved out here, before our water system was really set up, I would walk to my neighbor’s house to collect 3 gallons of water per day, why 3 gallons you ask? Simple, it’s how many empty one gallon water containers I had. We learned during that time how to really REALLY conserve water. Before you think we moved out here to leech off of our neighbor, we were set up to get water from the community well, several miles from us, but since our neighbor very kindly offered the use of his tap, we gratefully accepted.
Since then, we have greatly expanded the water setup, we have several large water storage tanks, some are set up to collect water from the roof, that is something that will be improved upon in the very near future, to the point where we will get 100% of our water from the sky.
On the inside of the SkyCastle, we have a 12 volt water pump, the original one we had came out of an RV, we liked it well enough to continue with that line when it came time to buy a new one. The nice thing about the 12 volt system is even if the batteries that store our electricity are too low for the inverter to work, there is still enough power to run the pump.
In the beginning, we just used the pump, it was (and still is) inside the SkyCastle, just under the sink, every time we turned on the faucet, the pump came on making our home sound like a gas station air pump. We eventually installed a second hand pressure tank. The water pump would pressurize the pressure tank, which meant the water pump didn’t come on as often but ran for longer periods of time.
Eventually that pressure tank failed and we purchased a new one, a spiffy shiny blue tank that sits under the sink in the kitchen. The reason we have so much of our system inside the house is to keep things from freezing in winter.
Now that we had our water, sink and shower plumbed for use, we needed to be able to heat the water. Enter the Eccotemp L5 portable propane powered water heater, honestly it’s designed to be used OUTSIDE, not inside, but since our home isn’t what you would call tight, I don’t mind running the one in the kitchen, installed right over the sink. The other one for the shower though, it doesn’t run as often, but it’s used form much longer periods of time, so we felt it should be more outside, the shower area is semi-outside, it is enclosed, but is very much considered an outside room. Makes showering in the winter more of a challenge, but it’s doable.
Since the shower unit is in an unheated room (for the most part), during winter, when the risk of freezing overnight is a possibility, we do drain that unit. It is really simple, there is a drain plug in the bottom, simply unscrew the drain plug and allow the water to drain out. The plug has a rubber o-ring to keep the water from leaking out and eventually that disintegrated, amazingly enough the one in the kitchen seems to be OK, perhaps it’s because we don’t mess with it, the kitchen never freezes.
I looked around to find out what size o-ring was needed, their website had a post about that, a custumer asking the very same question, the answer from their technical help dept was less than stellar. The question was posted several years ago, I popped into the thread and asked the same question. Meanwhile, PB grabbed the rubber-less plug and pulled out his o-ring collection from when he was a repairman.
Within a few minutes, he brought me the plug sporting a brand new o-ring, the size is “010”, easily found on Amazon unless you are lucky enough to know a repairman with a box of o-rings handy. :)
I took a shower today, I’ll not admit how long it had been since I’d had a proper, real, long shower (long as in 15 minutes or less, it has a timer that shuts off after 15 minutes). I had been able to use the kitchen sink to shampoo my hair and do a washcloth bath, I’m OK with not having regular full on showers as long as I can wash up everyday, but eventually even this off-grid primitive gal needs a full on shower.
I was happy enough to post on Eccotemp’s forum the answer to the elusive o-ring size, hopefully they will approve my post (as of the writing of this article, they have not).
This was a good week to get to shower, this is the hot part of our summer, just before the rainy season, this is 2-3 weeks of uncomfortable HOT and often humid times, multiply that with no AC in my truck, I never got that fixed from the elk incident. It has been a hot and sweaty few weeks, getting a shower today was such a luxury!
If you want to see how one of my farther south neighbors collects water, John just posted a video all about it, fascinating and worth the click on the subscribe button