Do you need a water tank? How do you build a water tank? What benefits can you get from installing a water tank within your property? As a homeowner, there are a number of interesting things you might want to know about water tanks.
What are water tanks?
For people who live far away from a continuous source of water, storing it up when it is available is a brilliant practice. Water, after all, is a vital necessity. It is essential to keep some of it stored just in case you need it. That’s where water tanks come in.
Water tanks are, as the name suggests, large containers used to store water. Through a set of pipes, the water is delivered to wherever it is needed. This stored water can be used in a lot of ways, more than just for personal use. Knowing these things will let you have an idea on how much you need water tanks.
Sources of water for the tanks
Tanks are great vessels for collecting and storing water but they are a wasted if you have no source of water in the first place. In that case, it is good to know where it’s best to get your water.
Rainwater is one of the more common sources of water for your tanks. As rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year in Australia, it gives you a relatively steady source of water. Rainwater is also the easiest to collect, as you can just gather it from your roof to your tank. Rainwater, however, may contain harmful chemicals and substances, as well as those washed down from your roof.
- Natural bodies of water
Natural freshwater areas such as streams and lakes are also a good source of water, especially if you happen to live nearby. These streams and lakes give you an immediate and abundant supply of water as much as you need. However, just like rainwater, this water may contain harmful chemicals and microbes and is often not safe for direct consumption. You will also need to check for any restrictions on taking water from these sources.
If there are no bodies of water around, groundwater is another good source of water for your tank. This works if you have a dug up well nearby. Just like the previously discussed sources of water, it fills your tank with your readily available water. This, however, may contain dirt and other substances from the ground.
Uses of water tanks
If you live near places where the things mentioned above are readily available, well then, you’re in luck. You are assured to have a good source for your tank. Now, you can take advantage of the following uses:
- Drinking water
As mentioned earlier, water is vital for us. We consume it not only for refreshment but to keep ourselves healthy. Not everyone can get access to bottled water. If you’re not connected to a town water supply, water collected inside the tanks can be consumed for drinking, and it is usually cheaper, more efficient, and can save the planet by producing less waste than using the bottled water.
However, if you are planning to use water from the tanks you collected from the rain, streams, lakes, or wells, you have to make sure it is safe for consumption. Raw water from these sources, as previously mentioned, typically contains harmful chemicals and germs. You need to make sure the water undergoes treatment. Your local public health unit may be able to advise and test your water to ensure its safety.
- Irrigation and agricultural use
If you live in a consistently rainy area, you do not have to worry about watering your garden. But most of the time, there will be dry months and you need a readily available source of water for your garden. Wouldn’t it be greener and more natural to water your plants with the rainwater it is naturally provided?
Watering your gardens and crops using collected water is more efficient, environment-friendly, and cheaper than using your regular mains water. It does not have to be treated as thoroughly as you would the water for drinking purposes. And it provides natural nutrients for the soil, which are quite beneficial for the plants.
- Fire and emergency use
Many parts of Australia are categorised as fire-prone areas, and water should be readily available for such disasters. In most accidents, mains water may not be available because of fire damage, so where can we get water to put out the fire?
The government and fire authorities have mandated the use of fire-fighting tanks specific for these disasters. The water to be used does not have to undergo quality testing as it is being used for putting out the fire. What’s important is that it should be quite accessible to be used. If you plan to have water tanks, you can help fire authorities access it by displaying a sign outside your property that you have some water stored and ready.
- Household and industrial use
Aside from consumption and safety, we use water to help us with our daily activities. We can use water collected in the tanks for washing our clothes, flushing the toilet, washing cars, and a lot more. Using collected water really helps you save a lot on your water bill.
Materials used in water tanks
Given the different uses above, it’s important to find out which material is best for your water tank. Several materials can be used, and they each have their own characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. Let us tackle them one by one.
- Plastic rainwater tanks
Plastic tanks are light and durable, and have a long life. They are made from polyethylene, a UV stabilised plastic. They are also the cheapest types and the easiest to construct.
The main problem with plastic tanks is that they can release toxins as the plastic wears down over its lifespan. This is especially harmful if you use an old plastic tank for your drinking or irrigation water. Even new plastic tanks can make the water unhealthy for drinking when the water is stored for a long time. What’s more, plastics degrade quite slowly once they are no longer useful.
The problem, however, can be solved by recycling the plastic after about 15 years. This way, you can make sure that harmful toxins from degrading plastics can be kept out of the environment, while at the same time, saving the planet through recycling.
- Steel tanks
Steel is naturally sturdy and cheaper than the other materials on this list. It is an excellent material for storing just about anything, but is it really viable to use for tanks, especially for water tanks? Yes, it is! Steel tanks can also be used to store water.
Of course, there are risks that a steel tank could rust, vastly reducing its lifespan. But there have been ways to keep steel tanks from rusting and make them last for around 10 to 15 years. Steel can be galvanised or coated with a plastic that prevents corrosion. This way, they are less likely to be worn out so quickly.
- Concrete water tanks
Concrete is another material that can be used for your tanks. Concrete tanks are sturdy and heavy, and they can be installed either above or below ground. However, because concrete is porous, they are often lined with a plastic to prevent water from leaking out. When lined and maintained properly, they can prove long lasting.
Fibreglass is perhaps the best type of material to use for your tank – but it comes at a price. Fibreglass tanks last longer than any other type on this list. Moreover, they are not corroded or worn down by chemicals that wear down the other materials. They can also be installed either above or below ground. They are, however, more expensive than other types, and they tend to be prone to cracks, so can be hard to maintain if you choose to keep them underground.
Where to put your water tanks
Now that we know what materials are used to make the tanks, another thing to keep in mind is where to put them. Some materials, as previously mentioned, work best for a specific type of location. Let’s take a look at these types of tanks.
- Underground tanks
Keeping your water tank under the ground will definitely save you some space. This is a good option to choose if you live in a cramped-up area or have a small garden. That is if you can easily dig up your soil. Your decision will also be determined by your budget for the tank, as underground tanks tend to be more expensive.
Underground tanks are best made from plastic and/or concrete, as these materials do not require frequent inspection and maintenance. Plastic tanks are easier to construct than concrete, but as you already know, concrete is sturdier and will definitely last longer.
In addition, underground tanks are best for watering plants and crops. Because the water source is already under the ground, you do not move it far. You can even use a sprinkler connected to your tank.
- Ground-level tanks
Now, these tanks can be easily constructed, managed, and maintained if they are within your reach. Yes, they take up some space, but they are a lot cheaper and easier to build. You can also use any type of material if you choose to have the tanks on the ground.
Ground-level tanks, as they are the handiest and accessible of the types, are suitable for your daily water consumption needs, whether for drinking or household use. Because these uses also often need frequent inspections and maintenance, having your tank on the ground is a great idea.
- Overhead tanks
Are you still undecided about which type to use? Well, overhead tanks give you the advantages of both underground and ground-level tanks. Because you construct them on a roof or scaffold, you can save space just as much as you would from using underground tanks, without worrying about digging some dirt up.
Overhead tanks are also reasonably easy to manage and maintain, as you only need to climb up a ladder to reach them. If you’re planning to put them on your roof, you can easily place pipes from the tank directly to your bathroom or laundry room.
Choosing a water tank
A last final point to discuss in selecting a water tank is to pick the right size for you and your needs. The key question is, “How much water do I need to carry me through the days when it’s scarce?” You don’t want a tank so small that it will easily overflow in the rain and quickly run dry in the summer. You also wouldn’t want a tank so huge it costs more and takes up so much space unnecessarily.
There are two factors to consider in choosing the size of your tank: the amount you get from your source, and the amount of your consumption. With this in mind, you will be able to choose the size of your tank.
Now that we have discussed all of the things you need to know about water tanks, you now learn that the types of material, the location where you will build your tank, how you intend to use them, and even the size of tank, are all connected and essential in knowing and considering water tanks. It’s now a matter of weighing down the advantages and disadvantages of each type of water tanks to make the most out of them.