This article about the various components of a rainwater harvesting system and information about tanks & installation is useful for all contemplating collecting this free resource, rainwater.
What plumbing needs to be done?
A plumber will be able to give you some great advice about water tanks, such as the best location and size. You will also be able to get an idea of how much the entire project will cost. A licensed plumber is required by law wherever a tank is connected to the mains water supply, such as a tank to toilet system. A plumber is also required to connect your gutters to your water tank and install an overflow to stormwater. Some water tank installations (particularly large water tanks) may require a building permit. Check with your local council.
In most situations, you can arrange delivery with the water tank manufacturer or water tank retailer. It is important to ensure that there is clear access from the street to where you want to put your water tanks.
The ground where a water tank is going to be located needs to be levelled. Larger water tanks will also require either sand or concrete foundations. The water tank manufacturer’s instructions will guide you, but a plumber should also be consulted when deciding where to put your water tank to maximise the catchment area.
The guttering on your roof is a major part of catching water and will need to be cleared of any leaves or debris. Damaged guttering should be repaired. On some existing houses, the guttering may need to be adjusted to direct the water to the corner of your house where the rainwater tank will be installed.
When should I install my water tank?
The best time to install a rainwater tank is when you don’t need it. Fitting your water tank at the beginning of winter will ensure that you have as much water as possible to sustain you during summer.
What accessories will I need?
Most rainwater tank systems will require a pump to generate adequate pressure. Washing machines and some irrigation systems require a level of pressure similar to mains water. When connecting your rainwater supply to your toilet or laundry, leading plumbers recommend a pump which will automatically switch to mains supply when your tank water runs dry. In times of water restrictions you must ensure you are not using mains supply on your garden. You also need to provide electricity to the pump close to the water tank. Be mindful of neighbours as pumps can be quite loud, nylon blade pumps are quieter than ones with metal blades.
First flush diverters
These devices are useful to divert the first 20 litres of rainfall from entering your water tank. This will prevent pollutants on your roof from getting into the water tank. For example, many roofs have lead flashing which can be dangerous unless it is painted to prevent contamination.
Backflow prevention valve
Regulations stipulate that backflow devices must be installed to prevent tank water from entering the Mains system. A backflow prevention valve stops water from your water tank from entering back into the mains supply. Most households have backflow prevention devices installed at the water meter. Some pumps also act as a backflow prevention so extra valves are not required. Ask your plumber for further advice.
Connections, pipes & fittings
Make sure you ask your plumber about the additional extras you need as they can increase the total cost. Your quote should also include all measures to meet government standards.
Rainwater tanks can be an attractive refuge for insects and other creatures, especially as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are a range of products that you can install on your downpipes and overflows to prevent insects from getting into your water tank.
Leaf shedding gutter protectors
Leaves and debris often build up in gutters which effects water flow during heavy downpours and can potentially contaminate your water supply. Gutter protectors, filters and regular maintenance can help to solve this problem.
A tank stand can provide additional pressure if you choose not to install a pump and makes it easier to fill watering cans and buckets at the water tank. The type of water tank stand or foundation you need will depend on the material, size and weight of your water tank. Ensure that you ask your tank manufacturer before you purchase the water tank, as the stand may be included. Some tank stands require building permits so you should consult your local council.
Trickle top up systems
This type of system is generally not recommended in Victoria, if the water tank contains mains water it can not be used on the garden during water restrictions. Trickle top up systems use a float valve to measure how much water you have in your water tank. When the water level gets too low, mains water will trickle into the water tank to top it up.
How should I maintain my water tank?
Remember that ‘prevention is better than the cure’, so keep your gutters free from debris with a range of devices or just by cleaning them out regularly. The water tank itself needs regular external inspections for leaks and an internal inspection for sludge every few years. This can be dangerous so contact a professional if you need help doing this.
Source: Save Water!
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