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Not my attic, not my water tank

You’re an accepting bunch – only Tim Carlson wondered how my toilet inlet pipe might have become full of bees. This calls for more Adventures in English Plumbing.

The thing above is a water storage tank and, until recently, most British homes had one in the attic. It stores water used to fill the bath or flush the toilet (cooking water uses the mains).

I’ve heard several reasons why this is. For places where the water pressure is low. To give a supply if the mains water is ever cut off. To prevent problems if everyone in London flushes at once. There is some discussion here.

Well, ours is very like unto this one. You’ll notice there is no lid.

Think on that. Five hundred years of dust, vermin, cobwebs and the skeletons of mad first wives wafting around. When we found out there was no lid, we took to calling it rat water.

We’re not sure if the bathroom sinks fill from the tank. Uncle B – being a far more fastidious sort of person – wisely takes fresh water up from the kitchen to brush his teeth. I’m lazy. I brush my teeth in potential rat water and try not to think about it.

You may or may not recall that we also have a colony of bees in the attic. Been there for years. We consulted with bee people and a neighbor who also had attic bees and the only option for getting rid of them is to fog the attic with poison.

Not keen on the idea of poison finding its way through the cracks in the house and into me. The best advice was to cohabit with them. Worst case, honey drips down the inglenook some years and they swarm around the chimney all summer.

Also, drown and get sucked into the toilet inlet. Have a good weekend!


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: July 21, 2023, 7:44 pm

I thought perhaps you were using the Hungarian/English translation dictionary.
You know “My hovercraft is full of eels!”

Pressure – yes, that’s why Metro Texas sprouts water towers like a fairy toadstool ring as the population grows. You pump the water into the towers during low demand so that everyone can have pressure when they get up and shower in the morning before they dash off to work.

I used to imagine they were some sort of secret government plan to ring the cities with AA batteries like the Flakturme the Krauts put up in major cities (and are still mostly there, though, I’m told, as apartment buildings).
You know, the top folds open and pew pew pew! (which people don’t seem to understand falls on everything below whether it hits what it’s aimed at or not…)

But no, just water towers so we can have sufficient pressure for all the latest flush of Yankees fleeing their dirtied nests so they can dirty ours.

I rather enjoyed the bees comment because you always come up with entertaining, and true, stories.

eh? NOBODY had Tony Bennett? wow.

Comment from blake
Time: July 21, 2023, 7:49 pm

Can you…can you not PUT a lid on it? You’re not catching rainwater in the attic, I would hope.

I mean, I live in the desert, so I’m always thinking “What if I had to =drink= that?” Maybe that’s not a problem for you moisties.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 21, 2023, 7:55 pm

The thing above is a water storage tank and, until recently, most British homes had one in the attic.

What changed?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2023, 8:01 pm

I’m not sure, Uncle Al. You can still have tanks fitted, but I think most new builds are mains. I got that from the little Googling around I did for this.

I’d love to put a lid on it. Put it on the list, I guess. I’ve never gone up there, but I have aimed my camera in the hatch and taken some flash pictures. The bee hive is not as big as I feared.

I very nearly titled this one “my hovercraft is full of eels.”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 21, 2023, 8:04 pm

We’ve heard some water tank horror stories from the plumber. The one that sticks in my head was the tank that stopped working and when they checked on it IT WAS ENTIRELY FILLED WITH SLUGS.


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 21, 2023, 9:10 pm

Well, okay then. Gin for ME please.

Comment from M
Time: July 21, 2023, 9:58 pm

I would have the Mr or the Son go up with a new tarp and some duct tape and cover it if it was my tank. But I’m fancy like that.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: July 21, 2023, 10:01 pm

I was reading this to my daughter, and we were both laughing, when she came up with an idea. Granting that dealing with bees, with the proper precautions, does not bother us. Our family kept bees for a few years. Granting that since your house is old and if done openly may require some sort of historical architecture permit, but the simplest way to bee-proof the tank would be to go to a hardware store and get some nylon or metal window screen cloth, and put it over the top of the tub with just a few clamps to hold it there.

I know that neither you nor Uncle B are of an age where attic crawling is a preferred sport [and believe me, I am not of any age/condition to do it either] but if you quietly put out the word, y’all might find an amateur beekeeper who would both have the suit and do it for you. Or just some younger friend/neighbor who is not afraid of bees.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from Tim Carlson
Time: July 21, 2023, 11:18 pm

Hey! That’s me! hehehehehe

Low water pressure or inconsistent water service – ayup, that’s what we have here in the Philippines. So I insisted on putting a 1000 litre water tank on the second floor when we built our current home – no attic to stash it, nor a flat roof area.

However, ours is a stainless steel barrel that is fully enclosed, with a small hatch for access that is about 18″ wide. It works well – not firehose water pressure, but good enough, and when the service goes out completely we still have water.

I couldn’t imagine having a tank with no lid. Ugh. We just did our 2-year clean of the water system and I did a wash and disinfect of the tank. Gross. Brown slimey stuff all around the perimeter of the tank. Ooze dripping out of the nozzle of the float valve. Lots of chlorine bleach was used during the cleaning.

BTW: is your tank plastic? Really? You would think it would age poorly, what with the water and then the hot and cold extremes in the attic. What happens if it decides to leak, or – worse yet – burst?

If you ever do decide to clean your tank, please take pictures.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 22, 2023, 7:59 am

I’ve never heard of one bursting. We did have corrosion in one of the pipes one year. It caused a leak so slow that we wondered if the wet spot on the ceiling was a figment of our collective imagination.

Comment from Carl
Time: July 22, 2023, 6:31 pm

I made a lid for the water tank in my attic – just a plywood board with a sheet of polythene stapled to the underside. It’s been there for more than 20 years. I peer into the tank about once a year but there has never been anything untoward.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 22, 2023, 11:57 pm

Oh, and when I say Gin for me please, I feel the need to specify that I don’t mean a slug of Gin, okay?

Comment from Tim Carlson
Time: July 23, 2023, 12:02 am

@Some Vegetable: think of it like Boba tea, you know, with the chewy bits.

Comment from Pupster
Time: July 23, 2023, 12:04 am

only Tim Carlson wondered how my toilet inlet pipe might have become full of bees.

I wondered too, but I figured it was just too sophisticated for the likes. Bees? But of course, old chap. How else would the water get to the toilet?

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: July 23, 2023, 12:44 pm

House selling feature – “privy bowl fills with natural flowing golden honey water (and bee bits) before each use.”

It’s very very you know! Only the best. Bet they don’t have that in Frogmore cottage!

Okay, we’ll edit the bee bits out in the advert.

Oh! If you put in a skylight…you could fill the tank with tea leaves and make sun tea, right from the tap!

See, Sunday, full of good ideas!

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: July 23, 2023, 7:52 pm

Throw in a little yeast, some hops, and you could make bee. r.

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