Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
My parents' farm still has the old cistern. I have fond memories as a kid of the giant water truck coming once a month or so and pumping water into the scary metal door under the front steps. We had no problems with it, but then rural water came around and hooked everyone up, and it's no longer used. Biggest risk is making sure that door locks securely so animals and children aren't tempted to open it. I could think of nothing worse than falling into that dark, cold water so steered clear of it, but not all kids have the same thoughts. The pipes also froze periodically in the winter, which may or may not be a concern depending on how they have it set up, but definitely ask the previous homeowners about it. Frozen winter pipes meant we had to switch over to the well water, which tasted bad. It usually only happened if it was -20 F or colder for days on end, so it didn't happen very often.
I would look into having the property tested for a well and/or seeing if rural water is a possibility. Cisterns are not a deal-breaker for me, but I would be a lot more comfortable with it if there was another source of water. We used the cistern for house water. There was a well and hydrant for the barn, as the well water, while safe to drink, didn't taste all that great. With fewer cisterns in use, make sure that you have a dependable water supplier and that the cost isn't prohibitive as it is one more thing you need to keep track of and worry about. Every few weeks, dad would go out and stick a long pole into the cistern and when it got below a certain level, they'd call for a delivery. Winter weather sometimes made it difficult to get the truck in, so that's another concern that should be addressed if it hasn't been already.
If the property is otherwise what you're looking for location-wise, it would not be a deal breaker for me, especially if a viable well is feasible. FWIW, I still have yet to taste water as clear and good-tasting as the water out of that cistern.
Last edited by SilverMaple; 10-11-2018 at 12:56 PM.