The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mobile home roof completion

mobile home roof do it yourself trailer roof

Finished up the mobile home roof project.

The next step is to install some gutters and figure out where to divert the water to.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Are you going to collect the rain water for the garden?
Comment by Heath Fri Sep 14 16:20:06 2012
Heath --- We need to decide that, but also where the water would go in the winter when we can't use it fast enough. We're all ears if you've got ideas for the latter!
Comment by anna Fri Sep 14 16:40:23 2012
I wish I could remember where I read it, but it was about storing the rain water in the soil. That the soil with lots of organic matter would hold more water than you could ever store ecconomically in containers. It made alot of sense to me, cause we are on a cistern so water storage is at a premium at our place. I plan on divering from the gutters to hoses that will drain directly into the beds. Diagrams showed a garbage can with a 4 way spicket and different lengths of hose coming off them to the beds and holes in the hose over the beds.
Comment by Pam Fri Sep 14 18:39:25 2012

Roof looks great. I'm sure you guys are going to enjoy it and the peace of mind.

On the water issue. Setup the gutters and divert the rain spouts pitching away or where it pitches away around the building. If it doesn't do this anywhere close, you can run corrugated piping under the ground which is cheap and run it till it hits an area that disperses it away.

For the rain barrels set up however many you need and where your down spouts are, you can set it up with an overflow so when the barrels are filled the excess goes back into the gutter.

Comment by Marco Fri Sep 14 18:40:53 2012

Pam --- I've heard little bits and pieces about storing water in the soil too, but haven't read anything definitive. However, this weekend I'm enjoying Water Storage by the author of Create an Oasis with Greywater and I have high hopes the book will cover topics like that in great detail.

Marco --- What I'm afraid of is that dumping all of that water in one spot, even one that flows away from the trailer, is going to result in some seriously soggy soil. I just did the math and with all of this year's fancy porch additions, we'd be putting out 1,142 gallons of water from our trailer conglomerate if we got two inches of rain (which is relatively normal). That feels like a huge amount of water to me, but I'm not sure how much it really is in terms of soggifying the ground. :-)

I think you (and Mark) are right that we need to figuring out the diversion first, and then adding in the rainbarrels so they overflow to the diversion will be easy.

Comment by anna Fri Sep 14 19:31:55 2012
You may want to check out swales in your permaculture book. Then again you may want to build a gray water recyling pond area that can be found in Gias' Garden.
Comment by Mona Fri Sep 14 23:40:53 2012
The roof looks great. It's funny but I just read the article Pam is referring to yesterday. It's in the latest issue of Mother Earth and it looked very interesting. There may be an online version. Sorry I don't have the article on hand to give you the title.
Comment by Heather W. Sat Sep 15 00:25:47 2012
Why not divert the water into one or two of the IBCs you bought? Maybe put a filter on top to catch leaves and other stuff, and you'd have a source of relatively clean water close to the house.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Sep 15 07:01:01 2012

Mona --- I am thinking of linking it up with our greywater project, depending on which solution we decide on.

Heather --- Thank you! That made it easy to find the article: for anyone who's reading along. Storing water in the soil has been the most intriguing part of the book I'm reading so far too. I'm a bit concerned I might overload the ground, but perhaps that won't be a problem with our clay....

Roland --- That was my first impulse too, until Mark reminded me that during the winter, we'd capture a lot more water than we use. We'll probably still use a tank, but also need to figure out how to divert the water for cold weather.

Comment by anna Sat Sep 15 08:40:23 2012

From your previous posts showing some topo maps of your land and from pictures of land around the homestead it looks to me you guys have plenty of various grades for water to continue onward and spread.

Another idea is if you have a low spot nearby that would create a natural pond/watering hole from diverted/collected water you then could use that for watering also and not have to worry about it freezing lines/barrels, etc.

Do you guys have a stream nearby pushing with a slight current or does it drop in elevation over a certain distance cause if you do you could utilize a ram-pump setup that would give you running water using only the energy in the flowing water to pump. It's something I've been reading and seeing lately by some other homesteaders.

Comment by Marco Sat Sep 15 09:22:18 2012

Marco --- A pond is one option that I've pondered for a while, but I think it might be too much work/money for the amount of reward we'd get back from it. I'm still on the fence about that, though, and what might make more sense is a wet weather pond that provides habitat for frogs without trying to be a permanent body of water.

We get a lot of questions about ram pumps. Unfortunately, our creeks are pretty flat, so we don't have the drop needed to make them work.

Comment by anna Sat Sep 15 09:49:01 2012

Wether you put up a roof or not, you're still getting the same amount of rain. So if the soil around the trailer turns into mud during the winter (or not), that won't change.

If you get 1100-odd gallons, that should fill four big IBCs.

Instead of worrying about where you're going to divert all the water to, think about what you could do with it. Some random ideas.

The roof is a couple of feet up from ground level. So maybe lift up an IBC to roof level and create some head for your indoor plumbing. That would work even better on the barn, BTW.

Running a water circuit from the IBC around the stove(pipe) could keep the water from freezing in the winter. And if you insulate the tank you might even get warm(ish) water for a shower.

Integrating an IBC filled with water into the wall of your house would create a thermal mass to even out temperature swings.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Sep 15 15:36:06 2012
Roland --- The mud issue is a real one --- it was already pretty bad last winter, but adding the porches has approximately doubled our water catchment. Over the summer it's no big deal --- the plants suck everything up fast. But I'm afraid we may be living in a sea of mud once the killing frost hits.... Thus, we're focusing on what to do with the excess water first before hitting the more fun parts of using some of the caught water. We will definitely be doing that after we solve the more immediate problem, though!
Comment by anna Sat Sep 15 16:01:18 2012
Anna -- It does not alter the catchment, only the concentration. Water that first fell over the entire surface now only drips down around the edges. So it looks like it is more. One way to do get rid of all that water is to make a porous layer, e.g. a layer of gravel. If you lay a couple of inches of gravel around the edges of your trailer (maybe with some geotextile under it), topped with some tiles where you will be walking, that should keep your feet dry. This porous layer should have an outlet to a lower point. If your surrounds are still muddy, you probably need to run some perforated drainage pipe.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Sep 15 16:55:46 2012

Roland --- No, no, as Mark points out, there really will be more water falling on the ground. All those gallons of water that used to puddle on the roof and slowly evaporate away will now be hitting the earth. :-)

More seriously, thanks for the information on the traditional method of handling roof runoff. I'd been meaning to look into that, but hadn't gotten around to it.

Comment by anna Sat Sep 15 19:25:09 2012

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