Water and House Water Systems in Panama

The great thing about moving to a new country is that it keeps your mind active. You constantly have to learn about new things, how they work and what they do. Everyday here is a wonderful opportunity to expand your mind and experience something different than what you are used to.

Today we are all about plumbing. We all know from living in the states or Canada how plumbing there works. You just turn on your faucet and you have water. Occasionally you may need a toilet fixed or a faucet leaks but most of the time you do not put much thought into how water gets into your house. All you do is pay your very expensive water bill monthly.

Water Storage on Left, Pressure Tank in White with pump on Floor

Water Storage on Left, Pressure Tank in White with pump on Floor

Here in Panama, of course depending on where you live anyway, the subject of water takes on a new meaning. I have come to monitor my use of water here more and now know the several steps water takes to get into a glass I fill from the tap. The workings of  and individual’s home water system and the city water that feeds it, is an ongoing system that needs regular maintenance and attention.

Early on in living in David our attention was fixed on the water system in our house. In the first month here our tank ran out of water one day. We increasingly became aware that the city water in David during the dry season does not fill our tank in the day, only in the evening. Now in the rainy season we find that we have city water during the day and night, Monday thru Friday, but not on Saturday and Sunday during the day. So we have managed our use of water accordingly.

Everything has been working fine up until about a month ago, when the pump seemed to be going on even when no one was using water. Then I noticed that my electric bill was higher. Then in the past few weeks, our pressure from the tank has been about half of what it was before. So today our wonderful plumber came over to let us know that our pressure tank was full of water instead of air and needed to be replaced. The guys are out shopping as I write, for a new pressure tank which will, when installed solve the problem. Problem now solved after a $207.00 new pressure tank from Bombasa on Avenida Obaldia in David. And our wonderful  plummer who was here three hours and charged us $30.00 to take off the old one, put on the new one and went with hubby to Bombasa. Nice to find good plummer.

For those of you who don’t know about water here let me do some explaining. Many people here use city water only with no tank reserves and no pressure tanks. I wondered why, when we first moved in, our neighbors did their dishes and laundry at night. That is when we found out that many households do not have city water until nighttime.

To avoid this situation, many people here install water storage tanks with pressure tanks attached to pumps to provide water to the house 24/7 with adequate pressure.

The tank is fed by city water any time city water is available and it fills until it is full. When you need to for instance run the washing machine the pressure tank builds up pressure with the pump and sends it into your house. However there is more to tell.

Our Old Pressure Tank

Our Old Pressure Tank

City water is full of dirt more so during the dry season and less during the rainy season. So you need to also filter the water. We have a filter on the water going into the tank and a filter coming out of the tank. These we check every two weeks and either clean or replace as needed to keep our water in the house clean. Then about every 6 months you have to clean out the water storage tank itself. Even though you have a filter on the water entering the tank the tank still gets sediment in the bottom that needs to be cleaned out. So we  turn off the water to the tank and use up the water as much as we can. Then we get our trusty shop vac, hook up the suction wand and suck out the remainder of water and sediment that has settled on the bottom. We wipe down the inside walls of the tank, put in new filters and then turn the city water back on to refill.

It sounds like a lot of work, but well worth it for clean water. In the kitchen, we also have an additional filter on the water to the sink. Even with all these extra filters, I still take the shop vac in the house every 6 months and clean out the toilet tanks because they too will get dirt sediment in the bottom.

Word of note. I just learned today that contrary to popular thought, you should not unplug your pump for long periods of time. Like when you are away. So another learning experience today.

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