Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Plumbing update

It has been a long time posting because, well, Willow and I have just been enjoying living. Exiting yet another long and very cold winter, the house has stayed snug despite a cat door that has decided to stick in the open position during subzero evenings. This year I estimate that I used less than a cord of wood for heating, and found that temperatures rarely dropped below 60 degrees, even first thing in the morning. 

I have received a few requests for more information on the plumbing so here you go.  As of yet, the shower is still not hooked up, so it is sponge bathing using a pitcher and water heated in a kettle on the stove and then mixed into a two gallon bucket of cold water. Laundry is done in small batches in a 5 gallon bucket with a plunger. 

These two 'piglets' hold about 70 gallons combined. An insulated plywood box then covers the sand filled area. The tanks did not seem to freeze at all, although twice I had to thaw out the intake pipe due to my own negligence in draining it properly when refilling the the indoor tanks.
The overflow for the tanks with a makeshift guard against critters.

Rainwater collection filter at base of downspout. During the winter I did have to clear ice out of it a few times. 

Half round gutters to the downspout.

This is the left side of the shower area with an overflow valve. On the top of the picture you can see part of an old style laundry rack that can open up above the tub.

The overflow valve can swivel out over the tub when filling the tanks. I just used a sharkbite elbow, and it has been holding thus far.

On the right is the tub faucet, which is also able to swivel.

I turned the bison pump and added a quick release, which allows me to fill a bucket directly if needed, and helps with draining in super cold weather. There is a check valve near the tanks at the top.

To fit the space best there are two 15 gallon tanks linked together in the middle there. Had to remember to add a pinhole on the tank on the right to allow air to escape just a bit. The left one has the overflow hole. These 30 gallons can last me almost two weeks if I don't overload on the laundry.

Closeup of the center area reveals the drain for the tub faucet in the back, which is on one line shared with the Berkey filter line and the sink faucet. The sink runs in a small stream, which I decided not to fix since  it keeps me from overusing the water. I just fill large kitchen pots from the tub faucet when needed.

This spout has been added in the kitchen so that the Berkey water filter can be filled directly from the indoor storage tanks.

Two sidelite windows make for some stellar mini french doors. 

Hope that answers some of the winter living and plumbing questions that have flown this way. If not, let me know and I'll try and add some more detailed info.

Enjoy this glorious change in the weather!


  1. Where did you get your Bison Pump for your bathroom sink? I love it, and your entire house, and how uniquely, and beautifully different it is!

  2. I got it directly from the manufacturer in Maine. A quick google search should yield their number. Super nice people to work with. And thanks for the complements on the house!

  3. I appreciate how you spent time to share tips and ideas regarding the proper ways of plumbing. That will help a lot of your readers, not just in gaining new information, but in learning how to do our own plumbing work to save time and money. Thanks for sharing that, Rowan! Kudos and more power to you!

    Wilfred Andrews @ LB Plumbing and Heating

  4. How did you come to the decision to build on a deck over trailer? I would like to do the same (I don't need a loft) and was searching for examples when I found your beautiful house!

  5. Wow! I love your how your plumbing turned out. You managed to make proper use of your resources, and things seem to be working quite well. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m sure a lot of people could learn from this, and apply it in their own little homes. All the best!

    Mindy Powers @ The Plumbing Authority

  6. That looks like quite the plumbing adventure! How have you liked living in your home so far? I've always been interested in purchasing one, but I've been discouraged because I'm not a handyman.

    Alex Jennings | Plumbing

  7. Wow! that's a nice and unique kind of plumbing.

  8. You had some pretty great ideas there! What more is, everything seemed to be executed properly. I think the bison pump is a great touch, and is an easy and more convenient way to get water. All in all, I say you did a great job. Thanks for sharing this wonderful project with us. Have a great day!

    Lovella Cushman @ Perfection Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Ltd

  9. Hi, Rowan. My friend Heather sent me the article. Beautiful work. It's giving me new ideas: for after losing several houses I put a lot of B,S & Ts into I had all but given up on owning another house. Now, I'm thinkin' possibilities & I smell wood burning. Also, condolences to you & your family on your loss. All the best. james

  10. Could you tell me how wide and tall your house is?
    I see you use a 24ft trailer - does that include the length of the draw bar, or is that the bed of the trailer?
    Your plan is really close to what I want, so keen to know the actual dimensions.
    So inspiring to see what you have done, and wonderful that you have included so many of the practical details. (Sorry if the measurements are on your blog somewhere and I have just not found them yet!).

  11. I found a picture of your beautiful tub, elsewhere. What size did you settle on (diameter, height)? Also found an image with the beautiful wood details around the cupboards under your bed. Truly lovely work.

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  18. Yep, plumbing and drain cleaning in the winter can be a huge issue. Love those french doors, though.

  19. I love the set up with the plumbing! I hope to do something similar with my tiny house but would like to incorporate a hot water storage tank that will store my hot water heated from my wood stove. Which brings me to the question: How do you heat your water in your tiny home?

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