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Using Your Home’s Structure to Recycle Rainwater

One of the best ways to improve the exterior of your home is by giving it another purpose in addition to being the thing that first draws a visitor’s attention. The exterior of a home can be turned into a source of water that can be used in various tasks like washing and drinking, and the best way to accomplish this feat is through the installation of a number of components to create a rainwater harvesting system that works.

The following are the components of a functional rainwater harvesting system:

– A catchment and drain system

– One, or even more rain water tanks in NSW

– A treatment system

– A distribution system

– A number of fixtures connected to the rainwater harvesting system

More details on these components as well as the process of selecting and installing them are highlighted below.

Catchment Area

The catchment and drain system of the rainwater harvesting system is, in most cases, the roof of one’s own home, and it should already be suitable for use as part of a rainwater harvesting system. Many roofing materials are considered fit for use in catching rain.

The most suitable roofing material is an unpainted metal roof, followed by a concrete roof. Metals used for roofs are generally considered food-grade, and will stay that way as long as they stay unpainted and properly maintained. The same is true for concrete.

Drain System

For rainwater to become useful, it must be properly directed to at least one downpipe connected to the roof gutter. Downpipes may be one of three types.

Gravity system – This type of system comprises at least one tank that is directly fed by a downpipe. The tank is usually set under or near a downpipe to make the feeding easier. In the case of multiple tanks, these you can connect with below-ground pipes in order to keep stored water in every tank at appropriate levels.

Charged system – This is usually set up in order to maximise catchment draining to one central water tank. Pipes usually remain filled with water between storms unless it is drained manually using a dewatering pit. It’s essential for charged pipes to be drained from time to time to prevent organic material and stagnant water buildup.

Flow capacity and arrangement of a charged system needs to be checked by a plumber to prevent gutter overflow in case of a storm.

Below ground system – This kind of system should be properly sealed in order to prevent ground water from flowing in. Also, it needs to be sited so water freely drains into the tank. For this to be accomplished, you need to make sure that tank overflow is 50mm below inlet from tank roof.

Rain Water Tank

As there are many kinds of rainwater tanks available in the market nowadays, choosing the right one is important. Some things to think about prior to your purchase include available space in your residence and how much water you are expected to save in a certain period.

Treatment System

Rainwater is clean, but due to the presence of pollution everywhere, each drop will need to go through several rounds of cleaning before it can be used. The cleaning of rainwater is done through several rounds of physical filtration, as well as some form of chemical cleansing or other non-physical cleansing method. The different rainwater purification system components are highlighted below.

Downpipe and gutter screening – Screens positioned between tank and roof surface help assist in separating debris from rainwater. A combination of fine and coarse screens may be set up so debris of all sizes can be removed and so mosquitoes and other pests cannot make their way in.

Inlet and tank screens – Both fine and coarse mesh screens usually are provided in the tank roof to filter rain at inlets. Finer screens are set over outlets from your tank so mosquito access is prevented. Screens and sun-shades need to be set up to cover every tank inlet so light penetration is minimised. Keep in mind that light penetration is the reason for algae growth.

First flush diverters – Has to be set up after a screen on a downpipe and before a tank inlet. These help in the removal of dissolved contaminants and suspended particles.

The in-ground diverter is ideal for a sloping site, and is capable of supporting the draining of all charged pipes.

It’s important to properly size the first flush device. For 100 square metres of connected roof, a 20 litre device is more than enough.

Outlet height – A 100mm outlet height helps reduce sediment re-suspension and reduces the chances of sediments getting sucked into your water supply.

Distribution System

The right distribution system is a pump that is capable of bringing to different parts of your home the appropriate amount of stored rainwater.

Proper Maintenance of Rainwater Harvesting System Components

Maintenance is important to ensure full function of the system. Here are the different steps to keep your system intact and in order.

– Ensure the cleanliness of the catchment area or roof

– Regularly clean and inspect gutters and roofs

– Regularly cleaning and checking screens and filters

– Desludging the tank every three years or so

– Assessment of tank structure

– Assessment of pump and mains control switch to make sure it works 100%.

– All leaks need to be checked.