Old House....Metal Tub/Basin in the Attic...

So, I have been inspecting houses full-time out here in WA state for over 10 years. Today, I encountered something that I have never seen before and am hoping for some assistance. Basically, it was a steel tub…approximately 5’ in diameter and maybe 3-4’ in height. The house was built in 1915…I am thinking maybe it was a way to increase water flow and/or pressure in the home? Anyway, I appreciate the assistance…btw, it was empty 'cept for a mouse carcass…once you get it…there’s no getting out, Mickey!!


I’ve seen these boxes in several attics. I’ve never seen one in action but they were utilized as an open tank (Cistern) which is installed above the highest plumbing fixture in a building (e.g., in the attic).

Way back then, there were localities where the only available water supply was obtained by storing the water which fell from the roof of the house during rainy weather. In other places the water is so hard that rain water is desirable in the laundry and bathroom. So, this tub like fixture took the stored water and supplied water to the fixtures below by gravity; the filling of the attic tank is controlled by a float valve so it does not overflow.


David…you hit the nail on the head! Thanks so much!

There are also open topped expansion tanks for hot water heating in the attics of many old homes. They are easily identified by an overflow pipe that normally extends into one of the rain gutters. They are often made of copper or wood lined with copper.