They say water is life, and it can certainly save your life. Of course, it has to be the right kind of water. In many of modern life’s situations, we find ourselves living the adage ‘water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.’
This comes out clearly in beachside towns, sailing expeditions, or water-based natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, or mudslides. These often involve heavy flooding. At such times, there is water wherever the eye can see, but people still experience dehydration because there’s no safe water to drink or cook with.
In some areas, a water tank is a back-up. You fill it with water then promptly forget about it until an emergency arises. Unfortunately, it’s only during that emergency that you might notice the water is contaminated, or that it has gradually dripped its way to emptiness.
In other scenarios, tanks are the only source of consistent water, so leakages and toxins will be spotted much faster. This doesn’t dilute the effects because compromising your main water source essentially compromises your livelihood.
Indoor tanks can be easy to monitor because any leaks, spills, or pests are easy to see. You’ll notice a puddle on the floor, a damp stretch of carpet, an odd smell, or a weird taste in your cup. But then, indoor tanks are naturally small, rarely more than 500 litres. Outdoor tanks, on the other hand, hold several thousand litres and are more obstructed.
Tanks that have been installed on the roof are rarely inspected by home residents because the roof isn’t easy to access. Outside, the tank may sit on a concrete slab or underground cavern, so you’re unlikely to see any patches of wet ground. You’re even less likely to see the rodent that somehow snuck into the tank and couldn’t find its way out again.
When you first install your water storage tanks, find out whether the tank company offers after sales service. Veer towards a company that is willing to visit your site regularly to check the tank. It helps if they’re also willing to undertake any repairs that may arise.
Every time you draw water from the tank, do a cursory inspection. Look at the water you’ve just fetched to see if it’s clear and if it has any smell. This will alert you to immediate issues that require attention.
You can check the water level by tapping the side of the tank to see where the hollow starts and ends. It will give you a rough approximation of how much water you have, but more importantly, it will tell you if the water is running out faster than it should be. That may indicate a leak, or a water thief.
Once a week, check the areas around the tank. It could be the ground beside the base or the walls beneath it if the tanks are in the roof. Usually, a massive leak will be evident, since the pressure of the water will damage the house and be hard to miss. But the kind of gradual dribble that characterises a typical leak has tell-tale signs.
Look for damp spots in the wall or roof itself, cracks, stains, or mouldy spots. You can also look for bits of greenery, tiny weeds and vegetation that might indicate consistent moisture. For underground tanks, patches of soft soil or unstable ground might be a sign too.
Every month or two, do a more deliberate check. Get a solid ladder and scale the tank, taking off the lid and looking inside. You’re looking at the water level, but you’re also looking for surface debris or sediment at the bottom of the tank. Shine a light inside the tank so you can see more clearly, but be careful not to fall in. Look at the inlets and outlets of the tank, clearing out any blockage or muck.
Sometimes, your tank needs a complete clean, usually after two or three years. You should never do this on your own. You could get stuck inside the tank, or damage your health through exposure to years’ worth of wet bacteria and micro-organisms. You might also damage the tank in the process, or you could drown.
When you feel your tank is ready for a full flush, start preparing a few weeks in advance by using up the water and letting the tank drain without refilling it. Get some secondary water sources to use in the meantime. Then, call in professional tank maintainers.
The clean-up-crew will likely use a vacuum system to clean the tank without getting into the tank itself since this can harm their health too. After all, even the pros are susceptible to germs. Vacuum cleaning your tank can take up to 5 hours, though it helps if you had pre-installed a filtration system when the tank was first set up.
Cleaning out your tank is pricey and time-consuming, so it’s tempting to do them all in one go. However, this can lead to water wastage, and you may end up hanging out to dry if the rains delay once you’ve drained all your water resources. Instead, work out a timetable where one or two tanks can be cleaned every year. That way, your water supply remains consistent, reliable, and safe to use.
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