I suppose an explanation is in order first.
Our water comes in a truck. There are no water lines lying neatly underground supplying an endless stream of water. Or above the ground for that matter. Because of the permafrost here laying pipe to supply water is impossible. There are utilidor systems of insulated, heated pipes above ground, but they have their own issues and costs and very few communities in Nunavut have them, I'm aware of Iqaluit and Resolute, although there are probably more.
So our water is picked up a few kilometres out of town at a pumphouse by a large water truck, and then it is delivered to a tank inside our house. In our case to a large tank that lies in our crawl space. Ours was dirty and needed a good cleaning.
Now the dirt in our tank was rather clean dirt, but none the less there was a lot of it. Water out of river fed lake has stuff in it. Suspended silt and sand that, while it isn't a huge amount, settles into the bottom of the tank and accumulates. So when the mechanical guy that we had in to clean the heating system pointed it out to us, we decided to clean it.
It most houses the water tank is made of plastic, and is an upright tank that holds around 1000 litres of water. It often sits in the mechanical room. The B&B had three of those tanks ganged together in a room pretty much dedicated to them. Because ours lie in the crawlspace (our sewer tank is down there also and is a very similar tank) it is a low fibreglass tank. It has a large capacity, perhaps 2000 litres or more) and like all of the water tanks it has an access port on the top. There isn't a lot of room to access it though, the "crawl" in crawlspace is there for a reason. The four feet of crawlspace also has to fit joists and ducting. A heating plenum was put in in the joist above the access port, which also lies right near the centre line of the house and the supporting framing that also lies there. Suffice it to say it is cramped. It also doesn't help that the (ahem) carpenters who built the house used nails about a quarter inch too long to fasten what passes as the underlay to the subfloor (there goes my plan on putting in in-floor heating in a year or two).
The first step was to drain the tank. In theory this is pretty easy. Tell the drivers not to deliver water until further notice and then just keep using water. That in itself took a long time, this is a bigger tank than we are used to. But the cut off switch, that saves the pump when you run out of water, leaves about 3 inches in the bottom of the tank. That is still a lot of water.
Reaching in a lifting the float on the cut off switch gets rid of some more, but only until the pump starts sucking air, and that still leaves an inch or so. There is a drain on the tank, but I really didn't want to drain the tank into the crawlspace, which was, realistically, the only option.
It was at this point that we got in the tank. Now when I say "we" I mean Leah and her sister. I tried, really I did. But I couldn't fit my shoulders through the tank, not on the angle I tried to get through head first on.
Apparently the water was cold.
Now in the tank they were able to was the silt off the sides, but that still left the sand. Out came the wet vac. Again, this involved more effort than you'd think. Suck up a wet vac tank full of water, take a bucket of water from the wetvac, crawl to the access door, hand the bucket up to someone, repeat as many times as necessary.
Around midnight, we were left mostly with wet sand and sludge in the bottom, and Leah and her sister again entered the tank. They would push the gunk close to me at the hatch, I'd vacuum it up, until it was all gone. Then one final washdown by them and the job was done. A little too late to get the tank filled, but done none the less. It probably took almost four hours to accomplish.
The things we do for entertainment.
You can ignore this code thingy. Its just for Empire Avenue to verify this as a real blog run by a real person