Water tanks are an essential part of modern Australian living, especially as we approach our winter monsoon season. Your tank can collect enough rainwater to reduce your water bills for the next few weeks. If you live on a farm or ranch where you rely on rain as a primary water source, then these three months will replenish your supply and keep you going for a while. Water tanks also prevent property damage by guiding the water into drains and preventing soil erosion, flooding, and general water wastage.
Your installation process will depend on the type of tank you’re setting up, and the source of your tank. Some suppliers will install the tank for you, while others expect you to do it yourself. You could call in a local plumber to help, especially if you need gutters installed or pumps connected from the tank to the house plumbing system. You can also have an underground water tank installation beneath your swimming pool.
Tanks are commonly made of metal, fibre glass, plastic, or concrete. Concrete tanks are mostly poured on-site, while other kinds of tanks are transported to your home for installation. You could also order collapsible water tanks which inflate and deflate. These are good for temporary winter storage of storm water. They can function as detention tanks, holding torrential rainwater and gradually releasing it into the municipal system.
Setting up the base of the tank
Whether or not your tank is above-ground, your tank supplier will expect you to do your own base preparation. Tanks require a flat, even base to sit on. Without this, the tank is likely to lean on one side, and the imbalance in pressure can make it crack or collapse. Tanks don’t have to be elevated, but it can be helpful if you want to fill buckets or watering cans, so a platform of a foot or two does no harm. Other times, the tank is elevated past roof level.
This mostly applies to tanks that supply multi-storey homes or apartment buildings. The raised level means the water can be driven by gravity, minimising electricity bills and plumbing costs. Either way, the tank needs to sit on a flat surface made from wood, concrete, or a metal framework. Use a spirit level to ensure that the base is 180 degrees.
If the tank will sit on the bare ground without a base, clear it of any stones or sharp edges. You may think a piece of sand or gravel is harmless, but once the tank is full and several tonnes of water are pressing down on that stone, its pressure can be as harmful as a hot knife. To be on the safe side, pour a concrete base before placing any tank on the ground.
Install the basic plumbing
Once you’ve lowered your tank into position, you’ll need assistance from a plumber. There are several things that need doing. You need an inlet pipe, in case the tank will be filled using municipal sources. You also need an outlet pipe that leads to the tap – if you have one. You may need a second one to connect the tank to the rest of the house. Many tanks come whole, so these inlets and outlets have to be cut out and glued to relevant pipes and pumps.
You will also need to lead your roofing gutters towards the tank so that you can collect water. If the gutters are dirty or crooked, get a specialist roof plumber to clean and re-align them for you. If you like, you could install a first flush system. It ensures that the onset droplets of rain don’t directly go into the tank. This is important because that initial water collects all the dirt and debris that has accumulated on the roof. Latter water is cleaner.
Clean the tank
Your tank will probably have sat at the tank supplier’s warehouse for a while. If it’s a concrete tank, it may have bits of dust and debris left over from the installation process. You don’t have to clean the tank with soap, or even climb into it, but you can flush some water into it and drain it through the outlet. This is easy if you have a tap, but if you’re planning to link the tank to the house using a pump, flush it first. This prevents contaminants from entering the house water supply. Now your tank is ready to use. Enjoy!