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Monday, February 26, 2007


We have the Romans to thank for our use of running water, though it wasn't until the 1880s and 1890s that plumbing began to look like it does today. What changed? The venting system, before this time indoor toilets were vented incorrectly leaving a stench in ones home. Diseases like Typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery were the biggest threats to survival in the early years of the 19th century, when the plumbers and sanitary engineers had done their work in the construction of our cities , in places like New York City, these diseases began to vanish.

The Homestead put in a hand pump on an out well near the house sometime last year. Because of the problems we have with electricity going out at odd times, we felt it was a necessity. Score one for forward thinking. Our thoughts were when push came to shove we would still have available water on our land, which because of the hand pump, we do. But can we live without running water? We just found out that we can, and now understand why the pioneers only bathed a few times a month. Pumping and carrying buckets of water into the house to be heated and then poured into a tub takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention the frustrations of not being able to have your own clean unused bath water when it comes to being your turn.

We have gone a few days without access to said indoor running water due to a mis-diagnosed problem. We assumed that the control box for the well pump had simply gone out. Indeed it had, but it wasn't a simple matter. We replaced the control box and once again had running water for about a week. Then the control box went out once again. This time my husband spent more time under the house trying to find the root cause, while I stayed inside just hoping we didn't need to hire an electrician. It turns out that our bladder had a small crack and was sucking in air, causing multiple problems. The bladder had to have a small trench dug so that it could be removed from out from under the house and a new bladder to be installed. It's not easy dragging a 200 lb plus, water filled bladder out from under a mobile home.

We are now, once again, with running water. And it is my hope that I do not have to go into town with greasy hair and smelling like I rolled around in the barn, for a few more years. But here on the homestead, you never know.

Could you live comfortably without indoor plumbing?


Anonymous said...

When the recent ice storm left us without power for eight days I found that while I *could* live without running water....I really rather not. (That's one of the reasons I was willing to move out of the house and rely on the kindness of strangers.)

Cheryl said...

I could live without it for almost everything, but I would really miss being able to have a warm bath.

Caroline said...

We did this when I was in high school. We had no running water... We had an outhouse, and lived off water that my parents brought home in multiple five-gallon containers. We also had water from a stream outside, that we would haul into the house and heat for bathing. We were also able to visit my grandparents once or twice a week, which helped.

Stephanie Appleton said...

The first winter we were here we had a temporary water set up with a large tank. Our water had to be hauled in and it was expensive. We were very conservative with our water then. And there were a couple times we were without water because the lines froze. (We are now connected to county water, wells are not good options here)

So, we've always had water, (except when the lines froze) but the first three weeks we were here (Sept) we had no electric (waiting for the power company to put in out line.) So water yes, but no hot water. I had to heat all the water on the camp stove for dishes, baths, & everything. I had three kids running around and was pregnant with #4. It was miserable. I'm thankful for running water and electricity!

Teri said...

What you do is heat up a big blue canner about three quarters of the way full with water. Heat it up much hotter than you would bathe in. You then move it to the bathroom (where it also heats up the room) and let it sit there for maybe 20 minutes or so. Then you add cold water to bring it down to bathing temperature. That's enough to bathe and wash long hair. And you can do this every other day (which is how I do it.) We have buckets outside to catch rain water, but I live in WA state where we get plenty of that. We used a Zodi in the summer which is handy but really isn't designed for indoor use. We'll likely fix up the hot water heater in the trailer for next winter.

The Fool said...

Many, many people in the Fairbanks area live without running water...either because they are in the hills, the ground sources at the sites do not allow (cost considerations), or the homesteads are located too far from town or in the hills. Many friends haul water and utilize an outhouse.

I could do without running it is part of the ways in this region...but I would prefer not to. I like some amenities.

Having a back up source is very practical.

Billy said...

I could definitely not live without running water. Once we had to turn the water off for something when I was in my 20's. I hightailed it to a hotel. lol... I would never last.

BurdockBoy said...

I have in the past, but going though this diaper phase with a newborn would be a real downer. Still, if I had a nice chunk of property that I was building on I could definitely do it a couple years.

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