When looking to purchase a rainwater tank, it is important to not just compare tank brands, models and sizes, but also understand what tank accessories and fittings are included.
This article has been written to help you understand what water tank accessories and fittings are necessary. Hopefully this will save you from buying a tank which initially seems cheaper, but costs more once excluded fittings and accessories are factored in. You may receive a great deal on a water tank, only to be gouged on fittings and accessories.
Main Tank Fittings and Accessories
Tank fittings are the inlets and outlets affixed to the holes in your water tank. Sometimes the inlet and outlet holes are cut at the factory, and the tank fittings are fitted either prior to or upon delivery. While not hard to do, you do need the right tools so manufacturers who provide this service can save you time and/or money.
There are three areas on your water tank where fittings and accessories are necessary:
- Tank Inlet – on the top of your tank a hole is normally cut out which allows rainwater to flow into your tank. This is where a round inlet strainer is fitted. Many inlet strainers included with tanks are an off-the-shelf brand and not custom-fitted. To prevent mosquitoes breeding it is important to ensure a tight seal around the edges of your strainer. If a gap exists, use appropriate sealant to fully seal the strainer to your tank.
- Tank Outlet/s – outlets on your tank are located at the bottom of your tank. Fittings compatible with your tank material are carefully affixed which allow you to attach a tap or valve. Some tanks sold include two outlet fittings, one for attaching a tap (e.g., for hose use) a second a ball valve to feed water to a pump. Tanks sold with standard fittings and accessories often include one outlet in the price.
- Tank Overflow – located on the side wall of your tank at the top is a hole where rainwater will overflow from once your tank is full. An overflow fitting is attached here which normally includes a strainer.
Water Pump and Rain-to-Mains Switch
- Pressure Pump – if plumbing in your rainwater tank, you will require a water pump to pressurise water to where you need it on your property.
- External pump – if you buy an external pump, then a flexible hose will need to be connected from your tank outlet value to your pump. This flexible hose helps to absorb ground movement and shock. An appropriate pump cover is also ideal which helps reduce the noise of your pump, while protecting it from the weather.
- Internal pump – submersible pumps can be purchased that are placed inside your water tank. These run much more quietly, since they are surrounded by water and are installed through the top of your tank. You won’t require a pump cover or flexible hose, or bottom outlet fitting and valve for such.
- Rainwater to Mains Water Switch – this device is affixed to your pump and will allow your rainwater to switch over the mains when dry and then back again. This is particularly important if plumbing your rainwater into your toilets or washing, and can reportedly reduce your mains water usage by 40% or more. An auto-switching device is sometimes included as part of a pump package, or can be found as a separate piece you attach to your pump like our AcquaSaver rain-to-mains water switch.
Additional Tank Accessories and Extras
Besides direct fittings and accessories on your tank, there are various others that may/may not be included with your tank including:
- “Rainwater in Use” Sign – councils normally require beside any outlet that your rainwater is accessed from.
- First Flush Diverters – these help to improve the quality of water entering your tank and are often required by councils. When it rains, the initial litres of rainwater can contain debris and other contaminants. First flush diverters work by preventing this first flush of rainwater from entering your tank.
- Rain Heads (aka left eaters) – this accessory is a head piece that deflects leaves away from the downpipe that feeds rainwater into your tank. It is normally installed at the top of a downpipe just below your gutter.
- Gutter Guards – if your roof capture area is surrounded by trees, then you may want to install gutter guards. These prevent leaves from washing into your gutters, flowing you’re your downpipe and bits possibly making their way into your tank.
Site Preparation, Pipework and Plumbing Install
When purchasing a rainwater tank, you will need to prepare its foundations, install the PVC piping necessary from your gutter to rainwater tank, and organise plumbing if you will be using your rainwater throughout your property or home.
You can often save money on install costs by preparing tank foundations yourself. Some tank materials have different base requirements that need to be met to not void your tank warranty. Common tank foundations include sand, crusher dust, pavers and concrete, but it is important to refer to manufacturer instructions for base preparation. Unless planning to receive your tank later, you will generally have a lead time of 2-4 weeks after ordering.
PVC pipework normally isn’t included with your water tank since it varies drastically depending upon the location of your tank to downpipes. It also depends upon whether pipework will be installed as a “dry system” (above ground from gutters to your tank) or “wet system” (from gutters leading down and underground to your tank). If you have a bit of DIY talent, this is something you can plan out and do yourself buying the necessary pipework, glue, piping fixtures and the like.
Finally, if you will be plumbing your rainwater, then you will need to hire a licensed plumber. Councils normally also require a licensed plumber to install a proper backflow protection device, which ensures rainwater doesn’t flow back into the mains water network.
I hope this article has helped you to better understand what accessories are often needed you’re your rainwater tank. If it has, please share this article or our website with others. Should you have any comments or unanswered questions, please contribute by leaving a comment below.