Friday, October 19, 2007

Weird Water

We knew we'd start noticing the differences after settling in. First it was the lack of outlets in the bathrooms. Then we had to figure out how the water works. What we thought was a hot water heater is actually two tanks, the hot water tank and a cistern. Yes, a cistern. Apparently modern homes in the UK and Ireland use an indirect plumbing system. Water from the city main comes directly to the kitchen tap and to a cistern (and an outside tap if present). All the other taps are fed from the cistern. This is why children are taught not to drink the water from any tap except the kitchen. Most homes have the cistern in the attic so gravity does the work, and anything can fall into the cistern, e.g. dead pigeons and squirrels. Yuck. Our cistern is in a closet, so we shouldn't have to worry about floating rodents, and we have a booster pump to get the water to the taps.

The indirect plumbing system does have some advantages, chiefly that the water pressure is consistent throughout the day. Also, if the water supply is cut off for any reason you still have some water. Still, it's very strange to this American city-boy who is used to mains-water at every faucet.


Ken R said...

They have squirrels over there? I think the french ate all of theirs a few centuries ago...

Hmmm.. sounds like you guys should just drink bottled water. If they have a cistern, the main must be unreliable and if the main is unreliable... well who knows how much chlorine they throw in to sanitize all the dead pigeons back at water HQ??

(unreliable water is probably another reason for the Euro-lack-of-ice-in-drinks sydrome I just realized in a connect to a previous post!)

BillG said...

Plenty of squirrels, though they're having trouble in the UK with American squirrels honing in on the natives. Typical pushy Americans.

I think the water is pretty safe and the indirect plumbing is mostly a "well, that's just the way it's done" kind of thing. We are pretty excited about the 39 cent 2-liters of sparkling water, though.