Rainwater is collected – or harvested – from roofs, and then channelled down and along gutters and downpipes. These surfaces catch dust, insects and dirt that can end up captured inside your water tank through the water collection process. Gutter guards, water diverters and leaf strainers do provide you with protection against these contaminants entering your tank.
Over time ,however, your water tank will build up muck and sludge that sits on the walls and bottom of your rain water tank – especially a corrugated wall tank. There are many things that can lead to this build up – including:
- Pollution from traffic that can settle on your roof – especially if you live along a busy or major road
- Smoke from fires can settle on your roof
- If you live in areas with lots of trees, or you just have a lot of trees in and around your home – sticks and leaves can fall onto your roof
- Animals – dead birds, mice, possums etc
- Mosquitos – which can lay eggs and breed
- The eucalyptus sap from gum trees
- And roofs of some new houses have a clear film over them which eventually wears off
It is recommended that you clean your water tank regularly – at least every 2 – 3 years to stop sludge building up.
Straight – smooth sided water tanks are the easiest tanks to clean.
- Once your tank is empty, spray down the insides of the tank with a hose
- Using a medium bristled broom brush down the inside walls of the tank – don’t use any cleaners/chemicals
- Give the walls a final wash down and wash any sludge and muck out through the outlet
- Your tank is now clean and ready to be filled up again.
When it comes to collecting rainwater, we spend a lot of time, money and effort filtering and sterilising water. There is very little effort that goes into maintaining your tank and ensuring the contents are at the best condition for use. Maintaining your rain water tank is fairly cheap, keeps your water fresher for longer and lengthens the change over time for filters.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have their water tanks installed, let the rainwater fill the tank, and then use the contents. As a tank is something that just sits there, it doesn’t need power and it doesn’t move as the years go by it gets forgotten. It’s only when that horrible black sludge on the bottom of the tank gets stirred up by rainwater that filters block up and suddenly water tank maintenance becomes an issue.
By doing a few small tasks a year and making sure that your downpipes have been set up correctly you can at least minimise the chances of black sludge building up. You need to regularly check your tank, if you look inside, you could be in for quite a shock!
Make sure you pay attention to –
- Your water levels – you don’t want to run out of water at short notice
- Make sure that the roof, liner, leaf basket and hatches are in good working order if anything needs to be cleaned or repaired get it fixed straight away
- Check that there are no insects swimming around or flying around the water
- While animals and insects that are alive inside your tank are *okay* – but remove them! Dead ones are NOT okay – they are dangerous, dead decomposing animals are dangerous to your health
- Check for water clarity – can you see to the bottom of the tank? In a well-maintained tank, you should be able to see to the bottom easily and the bottom should be free of debris and sludge
Once you have looked inside it’s time to do some maintenance. Do this at least every 2 months.
- Start at the roof, check it is clear of debris and clean – if there are any overhanging branches cut them away
- Clean your gutters regularly, not just for your water tank, but in summer it’s important for fire prevention. Eucalypts drop leaves through summer so you may want to or need to install gutter guard or mesh.
- Check your downpipes and drainage to the tank. Make sure it is clear and clean. If needs be flush your downpipes every 12 months. You can also install drain points and a first flush diverter to maximise the quality of the run off when it does rain
- Check and clean out the entry box. Downpipes will dump leaves into the basket so that needs to be checked and cleaned regularly. This can become a contamination point as your rainwater that goes into the tank will need to pass through that.