Saturday, 18 April 2009
The well in the cellar
Our house has three cellars, two are on the ground floor at the back built into the hillside on which the house sits. The other cellar is underneath the house and it is probably older than the house itself. When first we bought the house, we couldn't get into it. The former owners had treated it as a rubbish tip and the steps were covered with piles of empty beer bottles and other detritus. We paid a couple of guys to remove the rubbish to see what was down there. What a job! What we found was a low rectangular room with a concrete floor, granite walls and barrel ceiling.
The next job was to remove the concrete floor - underneath it was a floor made of granite cobbles and a spring, which soon started flowing into the cellar. The concrete had blocked the spring, but the water had had to go somewhere and so had risen up our walls to create rising damp problems in the ground floor walls. A pool formed in the cellar, it was an improvement but not an answer, particularly as it soon became a breeding pond for mosquitoes. On the upside this attracted bats – I opened the door one day and nearly got a bat in the face. So we had our builders dig a well and fix up a pump to keep the well from overflowing. The granite cobbles were relaid and everything was looking good.
Or it did until we had this year's cold winter, which froze the water in the pipe as it fed into the septic tank. The spring flaw and several kettles of hot water and the water can flow again but the pump still isn't pumping . Oh well! Why does that not surprise me?
We have had the water tested and it is pure spring water. So now we are rethinking what we do with our personalised spring water. Our water currently comes from a spring at the farm above the house. We have no control over it and a few months ago the farmer decided to turn off the supply (to us and the rest of the village) for four days. When it came back on, it blasted the pipe supplying our central heating boiler off the wall and flooded the ground floor cellars. So now we are looking at creating tanks in the basement, which may not replace the farm water but would provide a useful backup. I will keep you informed of progress.
We have had the house for over three years. When I started on its restoration, I thought I would be finished by now. Now I just don't believe that day will ever come. I read Salamander's posts on the Krumlov ExPats blogsite about her latest purchase (she has two properties on the go at the same time) and I am in awe.