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wguttrid 04-29-2010 12:39 PM

Rebuilding old cinder block pump house
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Hi everyone, very new to this forum and wanted to get everyone’s thought on a project I plan on working on this summer.

On our family farm, sits an old pump house or pump tower, not sure on the age but I would guess it to have been built somewhere between 1900-1920’s. About ¾ of the ways up is a poured cement pad on two to three I-beams which at one time would have housed the large water holding tank which in turn gravity provided pressure to the house.

Need to measure it but I would estimate the size around 14’ x 14’ and around 25’ high.

It was last repaired in in the 1950’s (way before my time), but what they did was patch up the outside corners with regular concrete and also inside they poured a cove of concrete in two corners up to the concrete slab. They also patched up some minor mortar cracks. All appear to be done with concrete. Will attach pictures I have on hand right now and will attach more later of the areas that need repair. Luckily there is no lean, buckling, or horizontal shears.

My plan this summer:
- tear and put a new roof on, re-frame the door, and reframe the small openings on sides
-repair both minor and major cracks
- somehow shore up or brace the wall from the inside.
-finally once completed apply a sealer and cross my fingers that my repairs will last for another 60 years.

For the masonary side here are my thoughts:
-hairline cracks – moisten with water and apply grout of of Portland cement and water
-minor cracks – will undercut with cold chisel, will prime the area with a direct mixture of Portland cement and water or if need be with only water, fill in with concrete (1 part Portland cement and 2 ½ parts sand)
-major cracks along mortar (can see them in pictures)- will clean out and chisel where need be, will prime the area with a direct mixture of Portland cement and water or if need be with only water, fill in with concrete (one part Portland cement, two parts sand, and three parts gravel)
-for any holes and corner areas will go same route as major cracks. Might have to get creative and come up with some sort of plywood form to keep everything smooth and looking good.
- for the inside bracing I have several thoughts, one is to pour concrete coves in the corners by making a form that sits diagnonally across the corners and fillip up with concrete and reinforced with rebar/chicken wire (see attached sketch). The other idea is to create colums against all four sides.

Have all the necessary tools and material readily available (cement mixer, tractor w/ bucket, scaffolding, etc.)

Curious on everyones thoughts about tackling this.

Speedbump 04-30-2010 08:53 AM

That's a neat looking building. I have never seen one like it before. Did it maybe once have a windmill sticking out the top? Or is there a pump inside sitting over or next to a well?

Generally wells were put outside of the building so a machine of some sort could install or pull pipes from the well when repair was needed.

If the tank that was once in the top of this structure was 25 feet above the original house, the pressure in the home would have been less than 10 pounds.

TxBuilder 04-30-2010 01:17 PM

What are you going to do with it?

wguttrid 05-03-2010 08:13 AM

Hi Speedpump, need to talk to an older Uncle who would have more details. About all I know is the large holding tank would have been in the upper area and you can see where the hole threw flooring allowed for piping to go up.

This well was last used in the late 50's or early 60's.

I do know the well also produced either sweet or sour gas with the water, which was stored in the outside 50 gallon drum you see in the pictures. This gas was used at one time for heating the old farmhouse. I am only 32 but can remeber being a small kid in early 80's and when you unscrewed the valve on the tank you could still get a hiss of gas.

Now how the water was pumped from the ground, that I need to find out about as not sure what kind of pump was used or if the gas pressure was enough to get the water up to the holding tank and then if a pump was used to get the water to house or as you mentioned might not have been gravity.

Really picking my brain but remember hearing about a blowout where the water did not stop for several days if not longer...wish I could remember the story and details.

Still not sure what I should do with it or how to restore it and to what extent.

Speedbump 05-03-2010 10:04 AM

Pretty neat conversation piece either way.

You do have your work cut out for you. I hope you can find out more on it and post back.

wguttrid 05-03-2010 11:00 AM


Yep defintly some work there for sure.

Did speak to a local preservation group and they put me in touch with an engineer who was kind enough to offer me some friendly advice to understand the scope thru review of pictures.

Needless to say to follow proper preservation techniques, approximate budget of 40k-50k.

Thinking I am going to have an engineer come out and complete a site visit and engineering report and go from there.

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