What, me exaggerate? You don’t believe building a pump house aka shed of any sort is going to make the lady of the house faint in sheer ecstasy?
Okay. Maybe I did overstate that just a little bit. Housing the water supply’s booster pump and pressure tank isn’t quite on a par with a day at the mall and no limit on the credit card, is it?
Heckuva title, though.
We’d homesteaded here for three years and five months by the time I got the water line pressurized. Did that by setting the booster pump and pressure tank on a bare platform, then cutting into the house supply water line and plumbing both pump and tank ino the loop. It was easiest by far to do it that way, without any close-fitting walls to make the process more of a challenge than necessary.
However, it’s not practical to leave the pump and tank out there in the open like that. During the winter months, even in southern Arizona, there are nights that dip well below freezing. In February of 2011, we even had one fairly lengthy cold snap that saw temperatures hovering around 7 degrees Fahrenheit a lot.
So you need a structure to cover the equipment…but it’s a good idea to make it as small as possible. You’ll need access doors that allow you to check the pressure gauge, adjust the pressure in the tank, hit the pump reset button, or even drain the pump if the need arises. But you don’t want extra cubic feet of air space roaming round in there for no good reason.
Partly because it’s cheaper to build smaller…but mostly because the smaller the enclosure, the easier it is to keep the chill off with nothing but a single incandescent bulb left on during those nippy nights.
Yes, incandescent. Never mind the eco-folks who’ve been pushing the curly fry bulbs. Ain’t a-gonna happen at this house. Ever.
I settled on a footprint (the platform size) that measured 24″ x 46″…and started building the pump house aka shed from the ground up. Or from the platform up, if you prefer.
There was no insulation included in the design, just a mostly airtight little box clad in 3/8″ sheathing board and a standard roof.
First, a bit of 2″ x 4″ framing. The height was chosen to be no taller than necessary but to allow ample working room above the pressure tank “just in case”.
With the first blow of the hammer hitting a nailhead as the framing was attached to the platform, I got a minor but rather nasty little shock. The pump started leaking. It had just cycled back up to its maximum pressure, the cutoff point of 60 psi…and water started showing up where it shouldn’t be showing up.
Turned out to be no big deal. Whoever assembled this at the factory had a screw loose. Literally. One of the long, skinny pump mounting bolts needed more than a bit of tightening with a Phillips head screwdriver–nearly a full turn. In fact, every one of the 6 long-stemmed through-bolts cinched down a minimum of 1/8 turn, and all tightened by hand at that.
That stopped the leak, which was good. But it was the second thing about this unit that was “off”: The inadequately tightened bolts, and the pressure switch calibration. The manual said the pump would turn on at 23 psi and turn off at 50 psi. Instead, it turns on at 17 psi and cuts out at 60 psi.
What else did they screw up?
Rhetorical question. It’s working, and if it works, don’t fix it.
The entire front of the little pump house is nothing but a double door frame. Though the rest of the framing is constructed from 2″ x 4″ lumber, the front center post is a piece of 2″ x 3″…simply due to space considerations. The smaller post size left just a bit more space for the pump on one side and the emergency drain pipe on the other.
To get just a bit of pitch on the roof so that rain will run off the backside, one extra piece of 2″ x 4″ was added for height beneath the front ends of the rafters.
Next comes the siding…and here is where I departed from the method used in every previous bit of building on the acreage. We still have a stock of OSB strand board on hand, but instead of using that (as was done for the water tower, two propane tank “hiding” sheds next to the house, and Pam’s AC unit “carport”), I actually sprang for real siding.
You know. The kind with a coat of paint or at least primer pre-applied, cool decorative linear grooves, etc.
As the building begins to become enclosed, its snug fit around the pump and pressure tank is obvious.
Building around here is sort of a when-you-can situation. We’re comfortable enough, what with the Border Fort secure against the terrors of the night, running water, flush toilets, and all that–so other things frequently take priority.
Still, I’ve learned to peck away at whatever project is in front of me, getting a little something done every possible day. One of those days was pretty short, and even cutting a single piece of siding, then nailing it in place, took me until well past sunset and on into flashlight territory.
It felt like the “right” thing to do was finish siding the other three sides before making and installing the doors on the front. For one thing, those other pieces of siding are what really stabilizes the structure. If they’re done first, the shape of the doorway(s) won’t suddenly decide to change…I hope.
The doors were put together from pieces of siding and just a few “backing” pieces of 1″ x 3″ lumber for reinforcement where hinges and bolts had to go. In the case of the hinges (or more specifically, the hidden 1″ x 3″ pieces into which the hinge mounting screws penetrate after going through the door itself), that presented a challenge: The 1″ x 3″ pieces bumped into the door framing 2″ x 4″ uprights.
Wood chisel time, whack out enough wood to make recesses into which the 1″ x 3″‘s can fit comfortably. Fortunately, this part doesn’t have to be pretty.
When the second door was hung, it became obvious that the only way latch bolts could be applied without rethinking the entire structure was to “hang ’em to the right” a bit. So I did, using just two screws where four are the norm. But with the “pull” being the way it was, there wouldn’t be any undue stress on those bolts, so…good enough.
Next, one final carefully cut strip of siding/trim above the doors. Then strips of aluminum flashing to hide/seal the raw vertical corner edges.
Home Depot didn’t have exactly what I wanted, so a couple of roof flashing pieces were purchased and the little “flared” edges were simply hammered flat. With soft aluminum, that’s not a big deal and doesn’t require much time to accomplish.
Today was the big day: Nothing left but the roof. YAY!
Ten days in the building, but hey. We’re getting there.
First, a piece of wood cut from an old foil-topped hunk of OSB strand board that had been lying around all summer, left over from another project that didn’t go quite as planned. The foil is getting a bit ragged, but we’ll plop it on there shiny side up, anyway. Some heat reflection during an Arizona summer is better than no heat reflection.
Roof flashing to go with that cool vertical edge flashing? Why, certainly!
Continuing with the leftovers from building the Border Fort in 2010, we go next to the tarpaper aka roofing felt, applied with staples that hardly ever go in right and therefore require mashing with a hammer after the fact.
When the steel roofing panels were custom ordered for the Border Fort, one extra 20-foot panel came with the order. No idea if that was standard practice or not. They didn’t say, and I didn’t ask.
For more than two years, that panel just lay flat on the ground, acquiring a nifty layer of dirt and not much else. Then, in June of this year, part of said panel was used to roof the little “carport” that houses the AC unit for Pam’s bedroom.
Which left plenty for the pump house shed. Cutting the pieces to size is simple: Just turn the Skillsaw blade around backward on the saw and start cutting steel. Sounds like a grinder, works like a charm.
What’s left to do? A coat of paint. That’s it, except for adding a warming light when the weather gets colder, come December or so.
Okay. You were right. Pam did not swoon with delight when she saw the completed pump house aka cool little shed. But she did sleep most of the day, giving me enough free time to finish the project.
That should count for something.