A while back Bob wrote an article commenting on the low water pressure in his home in Davao City. It’s a low pressure situation . Bob’s home is at least a thousand miles from me, but he might as well live next door … it’s a very common problem living here in the Philippines … low water pressure and even not enough water in some cases.
In my subdivision, for example, we “make our own” water. The Home Owners Association (monthly dues, 30 Pesos, average home water bill about P500 per month) owns a deep well, a multi-horsepower deep well pump and a large community water tank up on 20 or 30 meter tall legs, very much the same as you would see in US towns. (the tank, by the way is proudly US made, however the legs weren’t so good, it fell down in the big Baguio earthquake of 1990 and was re-erected on top quality Australian legs). However, for various reasons (like perhaps the fact our Association’s monthly electric bill for the pump averages P 120,000, about $2550 USD at today’s rate) the water is only turned on to the users three times a day, morning, noon and supper time, for an hour or an hour and a half each “give”.
So what do people do during the other 20 or so hours a day when there’s no “Association Water”?
Well some do without … over the years they have grown used to scheduled water flow and there are jugs or buckets in the kitchen, the bath, the outside “dirty kitchen”, etc. and you use from the storage bucket if you need water before the next water “turn on” is due. Not the way I want to live, for sure. I like turning the tap and having water flow, I’m kind of set in my ways by now.
Others, (actually the majority of our 360+ members) are in the ‘water business” too. Almost every house has a water tank, you’ll see them most anywhere you go in the Philippines. they not only solve the problem of non-continuous supply, but also provide a useful back up in case of power outages (Brown Outs) and other disruptions. These tanks are readily available in cities and larger towns anywhere you travel … “Best” is one of the major brand names … they come in sizes marked in liters from a few hundred up to thousands of liters. Ours is a 500-something Liter tank, always referred to as a “three drum” tank, meaning it is approximately equivalent to three US-style 55 gallon drums.
I bought our tank when we moved in, it was about P8,000 installed on top of the roof of a little storage shed in the corner of our lot, about 7 feet above the ground. people had lived in the house for more than 25 years without a tank, I think the landlord considered the tank a very unnecessary expanse, but you know how those “kano” love to spend money 😉
This is enough for several days for us, if we use water economically. In normal operation everything is automatic, when the Association water comes on it automatically runs into the tank and a simple float valve, like a toilet tank vales, shuts it off when full. When the Association water stops, the house draws from the tank automatically, everything is tied to the same pipe.
Our tank is not mounted as high as the one in the picture, though, so like Bob’s house, there sometimes is not a lot of pressure to drive water out of the shower head at a good rate. Also, in periods of really dry weather or for reasons known only to the Directors of the Association and the security guard who turns the Association water supply valve on and off, the flow is not enough to fill our home tank.
For that we have another common Philippine household appliance, a pressure pump. It is tied into the main line coming from the water meter and if you don’t hear water going in the storage tank, it’s a simple matter to plug in the auxiliary pump and fill the tank with our little 220 volt pump (it’s about the size of a car starter motor or a half-gallon milk jug).
I also bought this pump after we moved in. Went to the plumbing supply store and picked it out, had it tested (you always test anything electrical, there is no return of defective electrical goods) and carried it home for a total of P900 including VAT. My business-wise father-in-0law thought that was a good bargain, as did I. I actually feel sorry for the many foreigners who are scared to deal with Filipino stores and vendors because they anticipate being cheated. I knew from asking many neighbors that P1,000 was a fair average for a pump like this and by dealing myself I not only made a decent deal, but made a friend of the lady who owns the pump store and also found Ed, my loyal plumber who does all the store’s installation work. I might be cheated in the future, but I feel I have done well on my Philippine dealings, people have been fair and patient with me … my biggest problem has been a Filipino merchant always trying to sell me something cheaper to try to save me money, instead of what I went to the store for. Of course, like everything else, YMMV.
I do not have the pressure pump hooked to the output of the storage tank so it feeds the shower and faucets). I threaten to do so regularly, though. It would be simple … an hour or two’s work from my plumber, Ed … he’d charge P200 or P300 for less than a half-say’s work) and a pressure switch to turn the pump on and off based on the shower or tap in the house being opened or closed. these switches are available, cheap enough, at any electrical supply store. The only reason I haven’t made the connection is I am stubborn and I have already spent enough money fixing problems with the landlord’s pipes. Maybe next month.
Take away One: You can easily get enough water pressure in the Philippines, but there might be a lot more “do it yourself” invoiced than you anticipate.
Take Away Two: Unlike typical US rental properties where people even call their landlord at 3 am because the toilet is plugged, when you rent in the Philippines, you only get a license to improve the landlord’s properly … or even fix basic issues like water and electricity … at your own expense.
Welcome to the Philippines 😉