Australia is the driest, populated continent in the world, yet, for some reason, our consumption of water is amongst the highest on the planet. Bottom line – in Australia water is scarce and how we manage it should be of concern to everyone.
It’s not surprising that a lot of homeowners are looking for ways to catch and store water, with 26% of Australian homes having some type of above ground or inground water tank installed on their property.
Inground water tanks save you money on your water bills, and they help with water conservation – there is a lot to be said for the humble water tank.
When you install a water tank there are flow-on effects for the community – they relieve pressure on public infrastructure as there is less stormwater runoff.
Of course, owning a rainwater tank does come with its responsibilities, and, unfortunately, a lot of tank owners don’t realise the requirements that come with owning a rainwater storage tank. Those who own a water tank should know that a tank isn’t just a *set and forget* scenario. If you want to keep your tank and water healthy – especially over Christmas, there are maintenance procedures you must perform to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently.
If you have some time off over the Christmas holidays – now is the time to look after your water tank to ensure your source of reliable rainwater continues.
Check your filter – if you already have a filter on your tank, you are probably best off without it! Filters connected to rainwater tanks are generally also connected to a pump. If you are not drinking any of the rainwater, having a filter is unnecessary, it’s a level of protection you probably don’t need. Actually, it could be costing you more to run your pump. Rainwater filters block quickly if you are not already you should be checking them every month. Some filters can be rinsed and re-used several times, while others need to be replaced. Check your manufactures instructions. Filters don’t remove any *colour* from your water, and this colour can come from guttering and roof tiles, leaf litter or even from the bottom of your tank. Diverting this material away from your tank is the most effective way to stop or reduce *colour build up*.
Check your gutters – downpipes and gutters are a key component of any rainwater tank system. A blocked gutter will cause an overflow when it rains, and an overflowing gutter doesn’t fill your tank as quickly as a free-flowing one does.
Check your tank screen – if you have an above ground tank you’ll need a screen cover – this stops leaf litter passing through guttering and downpipes and into your tank, and it also acts as a barrier to stop any vermin from accessing your tank. Don’t forget to clean this screen cover occasionally. If your screen is bolted in, you can buy removable tank screens that fit on top of the screen and are easy to remove and clean.
Check your first flush device – when it rains your first flush device prevents the first water from your roof – the one with all the dirt in it – from entering your tank. The dirty water goes into the first flush device until it is full, then, a plastic ball floats to the top of the device and sends the cleanest water into your tank. The flow restrictor at the bottom of the first flush slowly releases the dirty water to *reset* the device for the next rainfall. Your flow restrictor is the only component that needs regular attention. If you don’t regularly clean your flow restrictor, it will remain full of dirty water which will soon become stagnant, and also, if it’s full, it can’t catch the next *first flush* of dirty water. To clean the first flush, unscrew the bottom of the first flush device, watch out for dirty water escaping, rinse out the bottom cap – you just unscrewed and all its components with fresh water, and then put everything back the way it was. Everything is now ready for the next rain – and you’ll know you have the cleanest water entering your tank.
Check your mains switching device – these devices are made to be fail-safe, which means you continue to receive water from the drinking supply when your pump has stopped, or the tank is empty. Occasionally these devices do fail – often due to a storm or blackout – so you will need to manually reset it. Check your owner’s manual – or with your supplier, so you know the difference between the failed and operating status of your switching device. Regularly check your switching device to make sure you’re making the most of your rainwater supply.