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Old 06-30-2009, 11:04 AM   #1
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


I have an indoor cistern in my 1835 house that is located under my dining room with a 3 x 3 wood cover. This is the only access to the inside of this cistern. I am concerned about mold as there is always water in it, sometimes just a few inches, sometimes a foot or two deep. I did not know about this when I purchased the home as it was under a carpet.

I would like to remove it and/or fill it. I have access to it in my basement, but do not know if I should just "go to town" and knock out the cistern walls.

I am not sure how the water is getting in there...if it is groundwater or if there is another source (I can't see any).

Any suggestions on removing/filling it so I can try and clean up any mold?

I appreciate any help or advice anyone can offer!!!

Best Regards

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Old 06-30-2009, 01:53 PM   #2
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


Can you provide pictures? I'm having trouble visualizing what you can access from the basement if this is under the dining room floor. What is the total depth from the floor?

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Old 06-30-2009, 03:21 PM   #3
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


I will try and get some pictures later. Basically, the opening in the dining room floor looks down into the cistern, it is about 15 feet deep and about 8 feet in a circular diameter. In the basement, they put a cinderblock wall which hides the wall of the cistern. If I take down that cinderblock wall, there would be the outside of the cistern wall (stone and mortar). The cistern obviously goes below the level of the basement floor.

I have never seen anything like this before...it is really interesting, but I can't have that water underneath the living area of the house.

I appreciate your time and any advice or solutions you may have!!!

Tim
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Old 06-30-2009, 04:20 PM   #4
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


Any cisterns that I have seen are usually fed from the eaves troughs of the house.
If it were fed from ground water, it would be called a 'well'.
Do your downspouts feed water to this cistern? If so, these will have to be rerouted somewhere else.
The cistern could be filled with gravel then capped off with concrete. In this case, I would make sure that there is drainage in the bottom, so that water cannot collect there.
Hopefully, the bottom is above the ground water table.
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:15 PM   #5
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


Ayuh,... Sounds like a hand dug Well,....

It's been Fine for almost 200 Years..... What's the Problem..??
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:44 PM   #6
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I was wondering if it was a well too, but somebody told me it was a cistern. There is never more than 2 or 3 feet of water in it. I never knew that either would be a part of the house.

Again, the problem I am worried about is mold and also re-selling at some point if I decide to. All of that water sitting there can't be good. Almost 200 yrs of moisture in the beams and such worries me too.
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:11 AM   #7
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


Quote:
the problem I am worried about is mold
Well,... If it was a Problem, there should be a few Feet of mold by now....

A cistren is usually built Up from the cellar Floor....
Your's sounds like a Well, at 15' deep....

If the original builder was fortunate enough to find water under the house,...
It saves walking outside to the Well to fetch water....
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:46 AM   #8
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


Sounds like maybe the original builder put the house over the well. An 1835 house with indoor plumbing. Probably was a small handpump installed years ago. Bet that's a rarity. In any case, after 175 years, I would think that anything bad that was going to happen would have by now. If there are no humidity problems in the house, it may not be an issue. Could be an interesting historical feature. I'd do some research into that.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:11 AM   #9
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


I appreciate all of the advice. I guess that would be more convenient putting the house on a well. They would be able to bring water right up from the dining room or whatever room it was in the 1800's. At some point though, the water has become restricted because it isn't very deep and CETAINLY doesn't look potable.

Maybe I will re-think what to do here. The house just has a "musty" smell quite a bit.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:41 AM   #10
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


seen something similar in an older (?) house, water was ground water. I would figure if you block it off that water will appear somewhere else in your basement. You could change the existing set-up, pretty it up some, add a sump pump if nessecary, maybe add tablets similar to ones used in condensate pumps. As for air quality, maybe you want a dehumidifier (?)
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:45 AM   #11
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I looked at my water bill last month, I pay for every gallon I pump in and then again every gallon they assume I pump out. About $150 in a slow month.
Tap into that baby, test the water. At the rate we're going it will be more valuable than oil, even if you're just watering the lawn, but I would be pumping it through the whole house ASAP Be greatful. I would like to build one
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:58 PM   #12
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If the supply was fairly constant and I was on municipal water, I'd be tapping into that at least to flush the toilets.
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Old 07-01-2009, 06:39 PM   #13
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One thing that hasn't been touched in this discussion is the possibility of methane entering the house.
If it happened and the gas became concentrated enough an explosion could occur.
Here in Ontario its illegal to have a well inside a dwelling!
For this reason, I would fill it in and seal it.
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:04 PM   #14
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Removing an Indoor Cistern


What you got there is what we like to call indoor plumbing. The modern addition (1880) to my 200 year old farm house has a well underneath the basement stairs. We have the original hand pump.

I have a massive plywood and timber lid for it - the only draw back is that sometimes we get mosquitos in december.
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Old 02-20-2011, 09:26 PM   #15
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Dear Aprman1: I have the same exact problem. We want to correct this situation and don't know how
to go about it. Could you please tell me what you did to take care of your cistern? Thanks

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