Out With the Tank, In With the Tank

When last we left our intrepid home renovator, I'd been draining the tank of 550 gallons of water.

The main holdup I had was that the tank holds about 100 gallons below the level of the outlet, and 100 gallons of water weighs about 800 (whoops, typo) or so pounds. The tank is no lightweight, itself, and I just could not lift it with that water in there.

Wedging the tank up

So using the laws of physics (this is why you need to pay attention in high school science, kids), I levered the tank up with the shovel and stuffed a 2x6 scrap in there. This helped the tank drain even more.

Propped halfway

When more water had drained from the tank, I was able to get enough leverage to lift the tank and wedge it into place (there are no photos from that process because for obvious reasons my hands were a little full). Even more water came gushing out as the tank tipped up.

There was still a lot of water in the tank

I rocked the tank around and even more water came out, making the hole a mess, but also making the tank much lighter and more manageable.

Propped out of the way

I was able to roll the tank out and wedge it into place -- it was still connected to the irrigation system and I didn't want to mess with Noel's wires, so this was as far as I could make it go. I tried shoveling out the hole a little but shoveling wet sand is really not much fun, so I called it a day to let the water subside.

Partway through digging

The beauty of sand is that by the time I got to digging this afternoon, the soil was saturated but not soggy; only a few shovelfuls maxed out the wheelbarrow's weight capacity, but it was super-easy to dig.

Piles of dirt are nice and soft

The dogs were, as usual, right underfoot for the whole process. Rosie took on the important job of tamping down the various dirt piles I was making around the yard.

Hole all dug

When I got the bulk digging done, I called Noel out to help me measure for depth. He also did a lot of digging, which was awesome because by that point I was getting pretty tired. (And he disconnected those wires so the tank no longer loomed over us like Sisyphus's rock.)

Tank re-seated

In short order, the tank was seated back in the hole, ready to be reconnected to the system. Except it won't be just yet, because we're taking the weekend off to spend some time with family (and that is not a euphemism!), and also we're thinking about putting some material around the tank to keep the soil back, so we need to do some research. In the meantime, lots and lots of water is flowing into our back yard (and almost immediately disappearing, so it's not a problem at all).

posted by ayse on 01/06/11


Apologies for being pedantic, but 100 gallonns would actually be 800 pounds, so we're not surprised you couldn't lift it. :)

100 gallons of water weighs about 800 pounds, not 80. :-)

Isn't 100 gallons of water closer to 800 pounds? My rule of thumb has always been "8 lbs/gallon"

I bring this up because my first thought when I read "550 gallons" was "Damn! That's two TONS of water."

Wow that is one big hole you simply amaze me with your feats of moving and doing such large and heavy projects! You have a good large yard to sop up that water not to mention the soil composition ,the water would be still standing there with Tx. gumbo. The dogs are a great help I am sure I miss my accomplice and partner in all things outside Midnight who passsed last spring. They say all good things must end and in his case it did. Give Rosie and the others whose name escapes me at the moment a big hug for all they do lol.

Woof to the dogs!

Having a tank under the deck is exactly what I'd like to do some day. We've got 3 rain barrels (~160 gallons total), but a bigger tank under the deck could collect even more water.

Of course, I should probably finish the garden so there's some place to use the water first... :-)

Love those labs! Sure, they get under foot but they are so fun to have around.

Yeah, you're all right: 800 lbs, more or less. I am not such a total weakling that I can't lift 80 lbs without a lever, but apparently after digging a huge hole I have trouble typing accurately.

That is a big tank :-)

I've lost track- does this collect rainwater for irrigation? How do you use the last 100 gallons normally, is there a pump?

Couldn't you have siphoned it out?

The tank only indirectly collects rainwater: it takes water pumped from the sump under our house, and that water gets there through the under-slab and perimeter drains protecting the foundation. In the winter the ground water level rises and we're pumping around 3000 gallons of water a day, so we don't really use the last 100 gallons in the tank, but that's not really an issue. I spend a lot of time coming up with creative ways to use huge quantities of water, rather than water conservation.

This year we had enough water in the ground from a cold summer and wet winter that we only ran down the tank for a week on October, and that was because there was a broken sprinkler head in the orchard. We have a LOT of water.

I suppose I could have siphoned the water out, but there wasn't a good place to get the end of the siphon below the level of the bottom of the tank until I'd lifted it, at which point it was draining fine out of the bottom hole.

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