If you own a water tank you need to know these rainwater tank maintenance and treatment tips. It will ensure the longevity of your tank but also protect the storage of water for future household use.
Most of us remember an old rusty, ugly corrugated metal rainwater tank from our childhoods. Those tanks are largely gone, now, and have long been replaced by modern plastic rainwater tanks.
Sadly those new tanks can still be forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.
But if you’re someone who loves harvesting the rain for your home, maintenance is crucial. You can avoid unwanted health risks and nasty brown water. Instead, you may even be able to enjoy clear drinking water from your taps.
Now is the perfect time to set aside a day for rainwater tank maintenance. This is how you can keep your system clean and healthy.
General Rainwater Tank Maintenance
Before getting into the specifics, as a general rule of thumb you should clean or service your rainwater system at the start of each new season.
Regular maintenance includes checking for external damage like cracks, holes or leaks in your tank. Also check out connected pipework, tank foundations and plumbing fixtures.
If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, contact a local plumber for professional rainwater tank repairs.
First Flush Water Diverters
If you’re serious about rainwater systems and rain harvesting you need a first flush device. It diverts and separates the initial flow of contaminated water that includes things like bird droppings, moss and dirt. Think of the diverter as a crucial step in preventing brown water.
There are several first flush devices on offer, including mechanical and non-mechanical. You can also choose between above ground and inground options, although it will be harder to maintain and service anything buried.
Regardless of the type you choose, minimising sediment build up and contaminants within your rainwater supply will ensure your water is potable. So if you are hoping to drink or cook with your rainwater, a first flush device is a must-have for water filtration.
Mosquito Mesh Protection
Mozzies in your rainwater tank are a nightmare. They can quickly turn the moist, dark den into a breeding ground for diseases. Location doesn’t matter, either. Whether your rainwater tank is in Adelaide or tropical North Queensland, you will have mosquitos and insects.
Thankfully mosquito mesh and screens provide a quick and easy barrier against insects. With openings at just 1mm, mosquito mesh reduces any health risk instantly. Install them on any rainwater tank inlets and outlets, plus additional openings like downpipes.
High quality screens can be made from aluminium, stainless steel, copper and even brass. Additional flap valves also deliver additional security as you have a fully sealed opening when the water is not flowing.
Annually inspect the mosquito screen to make sure there are no holes. You want it to be flush to any surface, providing little opportunity for insects to sneak into your water tank. If there is any damage, replace the mesh.
Water Pump Maintenance
If you have a water pump attached to the tank it should be flushed every three months or so. It’s best to check your pump’s instruction manual for specific maintenance instructions.
Additionally, smaller parts such as o-rings, seals and bearings will wear down over time and may need to be replaced. You will find more information on this in the manual, plus any specific troubleshooting and fault finding tips. Any major concerns should be addressed by an experienced rainwater specialist.
Gutter Cleaning and Gutter Guards
Installing gutter meshing/gutter guards is a must when you have a rainwater tank. It’s a simple step to keep your rainwater clean in both rural settings and urban areas like Brisbane.
Gutter guards stop debris from blocking your gutters and downpipes. Fewer contaminants will also flow down with rainfall from your roof, helping you keep our leaves, twigs and even small animals.
To maintain a fresh water supply, install meshing along the complete length of the gutters. If you don’t have any guards, you should clean the gutters at least every 3 months. Not only will this benefit your water quality, but you can avoid harmful water damage and leakage when storms hit.
De-Sludging Rainwater Tanks
No matter what, sediment and other unwanted materials will build up inside rainwater tanks. Rainwater and mains water contain minerals, sediment and contaminants that congregate into a sludgy mess over time. In the right conditions you may experience algae growth.
However, with filters, pumps and diverters in place, you should minimise the build up of brown water. But if you have noticed dis-colouration and sediment in your water, contact a licensed plumber or rainwater tank specialist for de-sludging.
De-sludging is a messy task that involves pumping out your tank’s water and cleaning the actual tank. And when thousands of litres of water are involved, it’s no easy feat.
A licensed professional will safely suck up the old water from the tank. They will then assess the structural integrity while thoroughly cleaning internal surfaces. Best performed every two or three years, de-sludging is a necessary deep clean of your rainwater tank.
Disclosure: This post has been written in accordance with my disclosure policy.
Disclaimer: The information is intended to be of a general nature only. The Plumbette and Mr Emergency do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own decisions and enquiries to suit your household.