Backup water system


I’m the kind of G the little homies wanna be like
Brass Subscriber
I got my backup water system mostly done. Mostly done in this case means it is functional, but not pretty!

I have two 55 gallon drums full of treated water. I plumbed in water suction tubes with valves, feeding a 12VDC pump, which then pumps out a hose, which can be back-fed into my home's plumbing. The battery is a 35ah gel cell, float charged on a "battery minder."

The pump provides surprisingly copious both flow rate and pressure. Just as a test, I turned on my shower head, and the flow rate would have provided a pretty serviceable shower.

Here's what the system looks like. The red valves of course control the pickup tubes. I thought about leaving them open, but I feared the pump will drain the closer barrel first, then it would suck air, effectively changing my 110 gallons of water storage to 55 gallons. So I elected to manually have the system draw from one barrel, then the other. The pump is a used eBay find, from a houseboat. New ones run about $60, I think I paid $20 including shipping for this one. It has a built-in pressure sensor, so when the the plumbing in my house is pressurized, the pump shuts off. When I turn on a faucet, the pressure drops, the pump switch senses that and turns on the pump. When I shut off the faucet, the pump again pressurizes the plumbing, then trips off. Handy!!


The blue valve shuts off flow from the pump. The PVC connections on the suction side of the pump are just friction fit. The PVC fittings on the pressure side of the pump are solvent welded.

Here is where it connects to the house plumbing. It goes right into the main supply line of the house. That way I can get hot or cold water just like normal. That water heater does not need power to operate, just water pressure and LP gas.


Lastly, all the water in my house goes through a filter. It's just a sediment filter, in case there's rust or sand or something in it. I have some activated charcoal filter elements, which may help with some contaminants, but I am not banking on that. So far our well water has been pretty good.


The convenience of this system is definitely a mixed blessing. I emptied the two barrels by doing two loads of laundry and running the dishwasher for one load of dishes. I suspect if we relied on this system for any length of time, I would have to shut off the valves on the toilets and flush with "grey water" from doing dishes, and other water-saving measures. It's easy to be wasteful with water with regular plumbing.


Domari Nolo
Forum Merchant
Neat set up.

My water plan is a little more complicated. My well is 150'. i have a brand new Simple Pump in my barn ready to install if necessary. I plan on pulling the submersible 1st if it gets to that point. I run a generator now if power is out.

For flush water, there is a spring fed "stream" in front of my house. I just fill 5 gal buckets and leave them in the bathroom to refill the toilet tank. I have this idea to build a "cover" or "plug" to go onto the end of the stream's culvert pipe, crossing the road upstream from my place. The cover would reduce down to a garden hose. I could run the garden hose right to my front door and just let the water run. Then I wouldn't have to walk the 50' to dip a 5gal bucket into the stream. lol

A Berkey filter would make the stream safe, I think. Pond out back....just in case.


Well-known member
Brass Subscriber
The early part of my career was based on water management, and I agree, we are terribly wasteful of precious clean water as a society. Shower water, or rinse water in a sink, is more than safe and adequate to flush a toilet. The dissolved solids that plug a leech field are from grey water; not black water. Anyway, if I were you, Greyman, I would do dishes in a sink with a container that doesn't require continuous running water.

Try this: Fill a deep container with water, heat it in the micro, put in dishes and scrub with Dawn or whatever (but don't over dose). Use that spent water to flush a toilet. Then refill the deep pan with clean water and rinse the dishes. Save for the next flush. Saves about 50 percent on water bill, sewer bill and saves on the energy to heat the water (nat gas is expensive here). 2 cents.


Old dude with a ‘tude
Gold Subscriber
Nice little system there AGM.
Having been thru a few outages that were more than a couple of days I’ve done a few different things.
Once I used what was in the water heater.
Once I hauled water from the small vernal stream in front of our house.
(That sucked by the way)
Several times I’ve used those five gallon water cooler bottles.
(I keep 6 full all the time.)
For the Y2K scare I had 2 fifty five gallon drums and the bathtub filled.

Those were all times when the generator either failed or hadn’t been replaced.
We have a well that works fine as long as there’s power.

The stream runs until about July then picks back up in September. Unless there’s drought conditions. Then it’s after snowfall.

Rain collection system hasn’t been implemented as of yet.


I’m the kind of G the little homies wanna be like
Brass Subscriber
Nice! How are you filling those drums? Could you rig up a water catchment system from the roof, maybe?
Since I had the solar energy system installed, the backup system shown doesn't get much use. Our solar energy system runs the well pump quite normally, but I wanted this backup system to be in place if something failed.

Currently, when I rotate the water, I just connect it to the cold water hose on the washing machine (that way it gets used before going into the septic tank) and refilled with the well water. I could refill them with rain water, and my rain catchment system is shown here: