Home Maintenance: Typical Cold Water System
This should be considered as two separate sections; think of the cold water as (A) the service from the provider’s water main to the storage tank, which is usually installed at the top of the house, and (B) the means by which the water is piped from the tank to the various points of usage in the house. A typical system of supply from the main to a house storage tank is shown in the image (below right). The main water pipe runs underground from the provider’s main to a point under the consumer’s house. It is then brought up through the floor into the house, and is then taken straight up through the structure into the storage tank. If you find the spot where the pipe enters the house, usually in the kitchen, it is easily traced up through the upper floors to the storage tank. This is a rectangular galvanized container, usually positioned above the ceiling joists of the upper rooms in thespace under the roof.
The flow of water entering the tank via the pipe from the main is controlled by a ballcock. This is a large hollow, copper ball which floats on the water in the tank, and is fixed to the end of a long lever which in turn operates the control tap. When the water level is lowered (reduced by running one of the house taps) the ball sinks with the surface of the water, depressing the lever, which causes the control tap to open fully. As more water comes into the tank the ball rises again, and automatically the control tap is closed. The pipe bringing the water from the main into the house is known as the supply pipe.
Apart from the direct supply to the storage tank, only one pipe leads from the supply pipe; this goes to a tap in the kitchen, and is fitted to ensure that the purest water possible is available for drinking purposes. Any water required for drinking or cooking should always be drawn from this tap, as it is possible for the water from the storage tank to become stale. The storage tank supplies lavatory cisterns and the hot-water system.
The main supply of water into a house may be cut off by means of stopcocks inserted in the supply pipe. The position and number of these stopcocks varies according to the type of building and the locality. The house-wise handyman should make it his business to discover the location of all the stopcocks controlling the main supply of water. The company’s stopcock will be found in the pavement outside the house, but this may not always be provided, and in any case is of no real concern to the consumer.
The consumer’s stopcock is situated just inside the boundary of the property. A third stopcock should be found just inside the house. These three form the ideal arrangement, but in some houses it may be that one or other has been omitted, especially in cases where a large house has been rebuilt into two. It is most important to know the location of all stopcocks, and to ensure that they can be got at quickly in case of emergency. This is an easy matter in a house; people living in flats should make enquiries and arrangements for access to stopcocks which may be situated in other people’s property.
The outside stopcock will be in a small underground chamber which should have a metal cover. Open this cover at regular periods, keep the chamber clean and the hinges on the lid oiled. Always keep the cover clear so that it can be opened quickly at all times. This stopcock may be fitted with an ordinary tap head, or it may have a square head, in which case a special water key will be required to open and close it. Make sure this key is in an easily accessible place and that it is clearly labelled. Should you be away at any time, leaving the house empty, arrange that a neighbour or relative knows where to find the stopcock key. Whatever the shape of the top of the cock, it should be turned clockwise to shut off the.
The indoor stopcock is the most important one to the consumer. It will usually be found in the kitchen just under the sink, above where the pipe enters the house, and this is usually fitted with a tap head. It is as well to make sure that everyone knows where the internal stopcock is, and which way to turn it, also that heavy furniture is not placed in front of it.
There is another very important stopcock, and this is situated on the pipe running from the storage tank to the various points of the house. It is generally fitted just outside the storage tank, but in some houses it may be found below the ceiling in a linen cupboard or in the bathroom. Sometimes this important stopcock is omitted from a cold-water system; if this is found to be so, it is wise to have one fitted. In the event of a burst, closing the other stopcocks will prevent water entering the house through the main supply pipe, but this outlet stopcock is the only one which will prevent the contents of the storage tank leaking through a.
In an emergency, when this stopcock is not fitted, the water can be stopped by plugging the pipe from the inside of the tank. The image to the right of a typical cold-water outlet system shows how the water outlet supply runs through pipes from the storage tank to the various parts of the house. The actual plan of the pipes will of course vary from house to house; this illustration shows a typical system. After studying this image you should be able to trace the outlet pipes in your own house from the tank downwards. It is a wise precaution to make yourself familiar with these pipes and their runs; in the case of a burst pipe precious minutes can be saved if you know where the pipes are.
The storage tank and system may seem at first unnecessary, but a little consideration will soon show that there are several reasons why it would not be advisable to run all the taps off the main pipe. The chief danger would be to the hot-water system; if the water became cut off from the main, the hot-water boiler would soon fill with steam and burst. With a storage tank installed there is enough water in hand for the boiler to draw on until the supply is reconnected or the fire taken out. Again the water from the mains enters the house at a very great pressure, and if used for all the taps, would prove a great strain on the piping in the house. The water flow from the tank is at a much reduced pressure. Also the amount of water stored is sufficient to maintain a supply to lavatory cisterns should the main supply be cut off.
Normally the storage tank will be found in the roof-space, but in some flats and modern houses it is often placed in the bathroom or airing cupboard above the hot-. This has the great advantage of keeping the storage tank from freezing in cold weather.