SHELTERING YOUR WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM


There are many benefits to sheltering your water treatment system. An attractive, well built structure is aesthetically pleasing and will contribute to the longevity and reliability of your treatment system. Shelter prevents ultraviolet (UV) radiation to the clearcoat finish on the fiberglass tanks which exposes the fiberglass, degrading the appearance and eventually weakening the structural integrity of the tank. UV weakens PVC pipe to the point of becoming brittle and subject to breakage from relatively low impact. Heat from the sun exerts a thermal load on electric motors, electrical control devices and circuit boards, increasing the risk of failure. Falling branches, wind driven debris and other hazards can cause expensive damage to a treatment system. Freezing temperatures are more likely to damage a system exposed to the elements. A shed can be constructed around the system, or the system may be relocated to an existing structure. Either way, the project can be successful with careful planning.

Four year old system constructed in shed.
Four year old system constructed in shed.
Note the CPVC pipe.


treatment system is over ten years old
This treatment system is over ten years old and is in
excellent condition due to being indoors.

The well and the treatment system must be considered separately. The well is a permanent fixture and cannot be moved. The pressure tank and pressure switch and control box are connected to and regulate the well. They can be relocated, provided they are located together. Relocating this equipment will require the services of a qualified electrician due the unique requirements of the 240 volt circuit. Consider leaving this equipment in place and providing a small removable shelter for protection so that it may be serviced with minimal delay. The well has unique requirements for service. Eventually the well pump will wear out and require replacement. Be sure to make allowance for access for the pump replacement. If you have submersible pump, a specialized truck-mounted crane is used to remove and replace the pump. This truck is the size of a U-Haul truck and must be able to park at the well. The crane will extend up as high as 30 feet over the well. Be sure to trim back or remove any trees that may obstruct the operation of the crane. Maintain a clear path from the street to your well for large truck access. A little planning and preparation now may save you thousands of dollars and considerable inconvenience in the future. Keep in mind that well pump failure may happen at any time, and will likely occur when it is least convenient.

Water systems require regular maintenance and occasional major service. Tanks may require removal. Allow access for service people. If there is access for the service vehicle to be parked next to the shed, service can be performed more efficiently than if the equipment must be carried to and from the vehicle.

There is more flexibility in location of the treatment system. It must be in a place where the water pipes can be installed without causing undue pressure loss. Long pipe runs and many turns cause significant pressure loss due to friction. Ideally, the system is located between the source and the point of entry into the building. Access for a service vehicle is needed. The area should not be subject to flooding. For the safety of the service people, keep the vegetation surrounding the system cut back as much as is practical. Snakes and biting insects hide in and around treatment system areas and present a hazard to people working there. The shed should be built to the current building code standards. Most municipalities require a permit.

The shed must be strong enough to protect the system from the most severe weather in order to help maintain a supply of water after a disaster. Construct the shed and surrounding area to drain this water away so that is does not erode the ground near the system. Water treatment systems will eventually leak or experience a release of water, salt, chlorine and chemicals or supplies associated with the system. For that reason the area around the system must be able to withstand such spills and leaks. Water tanks often drain and flush as part of their normal operation, releasing 100 or more gallons of water at a time. Erosion can lead to tanks leaning and falling. Eroded ground can create a trip hazard and injury risk to service people. Be sure that the drain pipes are routed to a safe area for disposal. Many years of experience has led us to recommend that the best foundation for a water system is securely placed concrete slabs 1 or 2 feet square, grouped together, and the surrounding area filled with a 4 inch layer of gravel, crushed rock, or coquina. Spills can be conveniently washed away. If a slab floor is constructed, be sure to slope it to a floor drain. The roof should be high enough to allow at least 6 inches of clearance above the tallest tank. Doors must be wide enough to allow removal and replacement of the largest tank. 3 feet wide is adequate in most cases. There must be adequate room for servicing each unit safely. Lights and extra receptacles are always a good idea. Even inside a shed, the area is considered a wet location, so be sure to consult a properly qualified electrician to provide a 120 volt 15 amp receptacle properly protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter. PVC water pipe is prohibited within any structure, even a shed, by most building codes. It is recommended that CPVC be used instead. Since CPVC can get expensive quick, careful design of tank placement and pipe routing can minimize costs.

The area around the water system should be kept clean and clear of clutter in order to make servicing the system more effective and make leaks or other problems easier to detect. If your service company has to move items like bicycles, lawnmowers or garbage cans in order to perform service, they have a right to charge more for their labor because these things take up valuable time. Anything that is potentially hazardous to the water supply should be stored elsewhere. Storage of gasoline and gas powered equipment, insecticides, fertilizers, weed killer and so forth is potentially harmful to the water system. Trash cans attract insects and rodents, and should be kept away from the water system. A little common sense goes a long way.