Tanks - 22 February 2023

Rainwater Tank Maintenance

A Water tank saves water and helps reduce the amount of excess stormwater running off your roof in urban areas. Excess stormwater can be a real problem stormwater runoff picks up pollutants as it travels through built-up areas and contributes to flash flooding, erosion damage, and pollution in local creeks tanks can divert some of this excess water for a useful purpose to keep your tank system in good condition.

Some easy maintenance is needed from time to time this video will walk you through the simple steps needed to maintain your roof and gutters where your rainwater is collected for the tank use the first flash device, which diverts the first part of the rainwater from the roof, which is most likely to be dirty the inlet to the actual tank and outlet to the stormwater the pump which pressurises your water for use and controllers, which you may have to switch your water to mains use remember rainwater tanks are low maintenance, not no maintenance. Look after your water pump with a water pump protector to ensure it can last the Australian climate.

Today, we’re going to be discussing rainwater tank maintenance at two different locations. It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone’s rainwater tank setup will be identical; however, we’ll introduce you to the two most prevalent arrangements.

Roof and gutter maintenance

Firstly, we’ll address roof and gutter maintenance. Remember, the cleaner your roof and gutters are, the cleaner the water in your tank will be. There are various types of gutter guard systems available to simplify this maintenance task. For instance, we have the clip-in style gutter guard. It’s crucial to remember with this model that leaves and debris can accumulate on this lip, decompose over time, and eventually sift through. Gutter guards require regular cleaning. To do this, we remove the section, hose it out, clean the gutters, and then put it back in place.

Let’s now examine a different type of gutter guard. This style is a fixed screen gutter guard. Its advantage is that there’s no place for leaves to collect; they simply brush off. Fine particles and dust, however, may still penetrate and, from time to time, may require hosing out.

Remember, while cleaning your gutters, it’s imperative to follow safe work practices. If you’re not confident, employ a skilled contractor to undertake the task. By regularly clearing out your gutters, you’re less likely to encounter clogs and overflows during heavy rains. If you have a lot of trees around, you may need to clean your gutters every couple of months. You can save time and effort by ensuring any overhanging vegetation is trimmed back.

Working at heights can be hazardous; always adhere to Safe Work procedures, covered by NSW regulations, or use the services of a trained and licensed contractor.

Now, onto the first flush device. First flush devices are an integral part of your rainwater tank system. If you don’t have one installed, it might be worth considering. They come in various shapes and sizes but operate on the same principle. As the first part of the water runs off your roof, which is generally dirty, it flows into the chamber. The ball then floats, diverting the water into your tank. You might have a first flush fitted to every downpipe or just one on the inlet to your tank.

It’s important that your first flush system drains out after every rain event. This happens via a small hole in the bottom of the first flush chamber. Ensure not to block this hole. If the drainage from the first flush becomes a nuisance, you can divert it by attaching a small piece of garden irrigation hose to the bottom, directing it away from footings and foundations.

A well-designed first flush system is quick and easy to maintain but is often overlooked. Personally, I’d prefer to clean out a first flush device than have my entire tank cleaned. Let’s look at how to clean one.

Debris can build up rapidly in the chamber, so I recommend cleaning it every two months, depending on the cleanliness of your roof, gutters, and the frequency of rainfall. Safety gear on, and I’ll show you how to clean one. It’s a simple matter of removing the irrigation hose, unscrewing and removing the filter, and then, once the water has drained, the larger cap is removed to reveal the debris caught inside that would have otherwise ended up in your tank. Now, it’s just a matter of rinsing these parts in water and cleaning the filter.

Ensure the rubber seal, which has the drainage hole, is clear so that the first flush chamber functions efficiently. When reassembling, the word “top” on the rubber should be facing upwards. It’s now a matter of putting it back together and waiting for rain.

Leaf eaters are another beneficial device for your stormwater system. They help larger debris bypass your stormwater and first flush systems, meaning less maintenance is required for your first flush. Cleaning your leaf eater is as straightforward as scraping off the leaves or washing the screen as needed. Some models have a secondary screen which may also require occasional cleaning.

Ball valve maintenance is key to rainwater tank health. Inspect and clean these valves every six months to ensure they’re free from debris and operate smoothly. Use a safe lubricant if necessary and replace any worn parts promptly. Regular upkeep helps prevent leaks and maintains system efficiency.

Remember, not all environments are the same, so depending on your location, you may need to clean your first flush device more or less frequently. However, we suggest doing it at least every couple of months.

Screens on your tank are a commonsense approach to prevent vermin and mosquitoes from entering your rainwater tank. In New South Wales, the state government requires screens on all tanks to impede mosquito breeding. Cleaning these screens may involve removing screws, hosing or scrubbing them clean, and ensuring there are no rips or tears that could let pests in. Make sure the screens are securely refastened after cleaning.

When cleaning these screens, since you’re working at heights, be sure to follow the correct safety procedures. Some tanks have a filter bag installed beneath the inlet strainer; if yours does, it’ll require additional maintenance. If the bag becomes clogged with debris, water can’t enter the tank effectively. Remove the bag, wash it out, and return it to its proper place.

Regular maintenance of your rainwater tank is not just about preserving water quality but also about the longevity of the tank itself. By following these tips, you’ll ensure that your rainwater system continues to function effectively and safely.