We'll pump up this section before long.
Our build site is over an aquifer that's down, give or take, 100 feet.
Normal water needs in the house are likely to be less than 5 GPM (gallons per minute) but in the event of a fire, the fire suppression sprinkler systems require a 32 GPM flow.
We worked with DAB Pumps to determine that a 2 HP well pump is capable of providing more than the maximum flow we'll ever require. That could be good news or bad news.
It might be bad news if the pump ran in simply on or off modes; fortunately, they identified a model with variable-frequency control. In a simple on/off mode, the pump would run frequently and in short spurts, a combination that works against longevity.
With a variable frequency drive, this pump can run in a loaf-along mode that is significantly less taxing.
It gets even better. DAB introduced us to Zilmet, a company that makes pressure tanks. If you ever lived in or visited a house on well water, you may have seen one.
How it works: There's an air bladder in the center of the tank that begins with an initial inflation level (pressure). When you fill the tank with pressure-driven (meaning pump-delivered) water, the water squeezes in on the air bladder, raising the pressure inside. Once the well fills the tank, the well turns off. At that point, any time something in the house needs water, the pressure in the bladder is all it takes to push good water pressure through the pipes.
Zilmet suggested using a tank with a 40-gallon capacity, enough to supply the needs of the house for several days.
That means the pump only has to run every few days, further reducing the wear and tear on it - and, of course, using less energy. We'll bury it in foam so the cold water stays cold.
We plan to have rigorous testing done on the untreated well water to determine exactly what we need the whole-house water treatment system to accomplish. Absolute removal of scale is a high priority, but not the only result we seek.
There will be a main, emergencies-only water cutoff valve on the feed to the house; we will probably make that manual-operation-only and perhaps put a lock on it. It will be the only valve before the feed to the fire suppression sprinkler lines. Past that feed, we will have an electrically operated cutoff valve (a Waxman LeakSmart is shown on the right, EcoNet on the left) that automation can activate if it detects a leak, especially when no one is home. There is a split after this valve.
One split goes directly to the water control manifold block cold water infeed.
The other takes a detour before the water heater.
The first stop in that detour is a 250-gallon Poly-Mart holding tank in the attic. We expect the well water to feed at 50-some degrees Fahrenheit. The attic space is thermally insulated from the roof in multiple ways, so it is a conditioned space, more closely thermally coupled to the house, usually very near room temperature.
That means that water in that tank eventually comes to a temperature in the mid-seventies, for a 20-degree heat boost at essentially zero cost. (Since the house will experience more cooling days than heating days, it's better than free since it performs some small, marginal cooling in the attic.
250 gallons of water weighs 2,000 pounds - a full ton - a factor we have to take into account when determining where exactly in the attic it goes and what, if anything, we need to do to
The next stop is EcoDrain, a “heat vampire” (or heat recycler) that lives under the shower drain. No, the water does not intermix. Hot water going down that drain warms a metal heat exchanger and that, in turn, heats the water pipe that feeds through its second, isolated water path toward the hot water heater. It has no impact on the temperature of the water feeding the hot water heater unless and until someone is taking a shower, but that's precisely when the water heater needs to deliver hot water. It is not providing a major immediate reduction in the energy it takes to heat the water, just a minor one, but over time that justifies the cost of it while also reducing the wear and tear (ergo increasing the problem-free lifetime) of the hot water system. Again, the drain's gray water never touches the fresh water.
We don't yet have much to say about water usage outdoors for keeping the lawns and plantings healthy, and we are not yet committed to having a swimming pool.
We mentioned whole-house water conditioning for washing and bathing needs. The house will also have an advanced reverse osmosis water purifier in the kitchen for drinking and cooking water.
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