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Rainwater catchment in areas that freeze  RSS feed

 
Cj Sloane
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What are the protocols for rainwater catchment in areas that freeze?

Does anyone have a system up and running?
 
R Scott
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How hard does it freeze? Normally earth contact with berm and/or compost/straw as insulation in mild temps. Buried deeper in colder climate.
 
Cj Sloane
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It's Vermont where we have 8 months of winter and 4 months of poor sledding!

USDA zone 4-5.

Placement near the house &/or southfacing would help but I wonder if it's safer just to bury it? If buried you loose gravity assist though...
 
R Scott
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If it freezes you lose gravity assist, too!

 
Cj Sloane
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Doh!

Well, actually, you would regain it for the majority of days it's not frozen.

I did hear that they bury them in Australia to keep the water cool so I wonder how they pump it out of the tanks? Or are they sealed systems

I'm hoping for a response from someone with first hand experience.
 
Adam Klaus
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I have a rainwater catchment system working successfully in zone 5/6 Colorado mountains.

One key is to keep the snow on your roof, using snow stops. Another key is burying your cistern totally underground.

If you have any specific questions I would be happy to help.
 
Cj Sloane
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So if the tank is buried, how does the water get into the house? A pump in the house? To a pressurized holding tank?
How big is your cistern?

Sorry for all the questions. Just trying to wrap my head around this. We have a well that pumps to a pressurized holding tank in the house.
 
Adam Klaus
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You use a pump to get the water out of the tank, and into the house in a pressurized way. I used a pump like this-
http://www.amazon.com/Grundfos-MQ3-35-96860172-Pressure-Booster/dp/B004MSF2WW/ref=cm_cr_pr_sims_t

To avoid a pump, you would need a substantially elevated tank, which is a non-starter in our climate. Additionally, you might have enough gravity feed pressure to get water to run out a tap, but not enought to push it through a hot water heater and out a shower head. So some sort of booster pump is kinda a necessary evil for cold climate, domestic rainwater utilization. I found it best to locate the pump in my crawlspace, rather that using a submersible pump inside the cistern tank. This pump could then be delivering to your pressure tank for a more even tap pressure.

I have a 3500 gallon cistern, fully buried just outside the foundation wall of the house. Dont undersize here. When we get a wet spell and water is running out the cistern overflow, I kinda cringe thinking about the next dry period when I will be counting every gallon.

I do not use any heat tape or such on my gutters, no problems there.

Hope that helps!
 
Cj Sloane
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Adam Klaus wrote:

I have a 3500 gallon cistern, fully buried just outside the foundation wall of the house. Dont undersize here.


Wow! The system I was thinking about would be much smaller - like 10% of yours. Maybe one of those IBCs which I think are 350 gallons. It'd be a backup to a well. All that info is handy though.

Here's the back story:
I did geoff lawton's Online PDC (which was cool) and I did a design for my friend's house for the final exercise. The design included a rainwater catchment system as backup to their well. I kind of threw that in for redundancy but I've got no experience with that kind of set up. She just left me a frantic message that her pump has failed and boy, it'd be great if they did have that backup in place! So I'm doing a little research. Hopefully, this will convince her to put in some of the other elements of the design.
 
Cj Sloane
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One more question Adam.

Do you have a first flush system? Who made it? What's your roof made out of.

OK, technically 3 questions!
 
Cj Sloane
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Someone posted this link on another forum:
http://www.graf-online.de/regenwassernutzung/regenwassertank.html
It's a good illustration of an underground cistern.
 
Adam Klaus
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I dont have a first flush. It would be a challenge with freezing. It is something in am interested in, if I could design something that would be only active in the summertime.

I do have screens on my downspots, this product- http://www.rainharvest.com/rain-harvesting-pty-leaf-eater-ultra-downspout-filter.asp

My roof is a metal painted roof, ProPanel. I am happy with that choice.

After my water comes out of the cistern, it goes through a 80 mesh screen filter, then a 5 micron carbon block filter, then a pass through a UV light sterilizer. Then into the whole house plumbing.

I would think that a 350 gallon tank wouldnt make sense, considering the cost of all the other components in the system. The cisterns are not cheap, but all the gutters, filters, plumbing, etc entails quite a bit of investment. Whatever size tank you use, make sure it has an emergency overflow plumbed into it.

hope that helps-
 
Craig Jansen
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Adam Klaus wrote:I have a rainwater catchment system working successfully in zone 5/6 Colorado mountains.

One key is to keep the snow on your roof, using snow stops. Another key is burying your cistern totally underground.

If you have any specific questions I would be happy to help.


Hi Adam,

I came across this post and great forum after researching cold climate rainwater systems. I am designing a system for my new build house in Nova Scotia, Canada and would be grateful for any advice from a cold weather harvester! We get about 4 inches of rainfall a month and I plan to catch about 1800 gal per inch from my house/garage roof and store 8000 gal in a buried concrete cistern. The system is design to supply all domestic water for a family of 4. I've been worrying about freezing in the piping system between the gutters and cistern which includes the "first flush diverter" that I want to leave connected year round. I like this vortex filter due to simple design as compared to a "ball valve" diverter - http://www.jrsmith.com/file-library.aspx?productcategory=121&useproductcategorytext=True&Page=5. I have been thinking about adding heat tape along gutters and piping that connects to the buried cistern but would rather avoid this as I am building a low energy house and every watt is precious. My initial questions are:
- do you find any issues with your above ground piping in winter? I figure as long as I pay attention to slope towards the cistern and avoid standing water in the piping I should be ok
- you mention snow stops on your roof. Is this to try and keep gutters clear of packed snow/ice?
- how did you do your overflow and any issues with freezing?
- do you have a connection for hauled water and how did you do that?

Thanks for any help or advice that you can provide

Craig
 
Adam Klaus
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Hi Craig,
From my experience, a first flush diverter would be a big problem in winter. I dont use one, which leads to some gunk in the tanks that then gets filtered out later in the system. If you really want a diverter, I would have it installed to be a seasonal thing, removed in the fall and replaced with straight pipe, and then replaced in spring. I think that the majority of the dust and junk gets into the tanks in spring/summer, and during winter the roof water is quite clean.

I havent had any problems with piping in winter. I run my horizonals from the downspouts through my crawlspace, or below grade. If they were horizontal and exposed to freezing, you would get ice buildup, and that would be a huge problem. Slope is not enough, you need velocity. Vertical downspouts work fine because of the energy of the falling water.

Snow stops are to keep the water locked up on your roof, rather than sliding off the roof where you then dont get to harvest it. It also helps a bit to minimize the buildup at the gutters, but this is secondary.

My overflow is all below ground, so I have had no freezing issues. Plus its not like in winter you are going to get a huge deluge of water that overflows your cisterns.

For hauled water I just remove the hatch lid and fill as needed. Nothing fancy at all.

I would really reccomend against heat tape, it uses a ton of energy. In a well designed system it shouldnt be needed. You could always add it later, in a specific spot, if a problem area arose.

Hope that helps, Adam
 
Patrick Mann
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How do you clean your underground cistern?
 
Adam Klaus
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Patrick Mann wrote:How do you clean your underground cistern?


Trash pump. Simple rental from the rental yard. Havent needed to yet, I figure maybe once a decade? ymmv
 
Craig Jansen
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Thanks for the tips Adam, they really help. What is your cistern made of and was it preformed or built on-site?
 
Alfonse Pinto
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Hi everyone. New guy here. General question. I have plenty of roof but it is all asphalt shingle. Is it safe to harvest rainwater off an asphalt roof and use it for domestic water? We don't need to drink it but we do need to use it for everything else. Is it safe to use this water for plant irrigation? Any thoughts? Experiences with asphalt roofs?

Thanks for a great thread. Lots of good practical info here.
 
Cj Sloane
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Should be safe with a first flush system.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I use a pond located uphill from the house, with a first flush and an insulated riser. The PVC runs through the black corrugated pipe which has closed cell spray foam insulation inside. The second photo shows the pond which is uphill and about 150' away. Below ground there is a tee in the PVC that goes to a hose spigot for gravity draining the pond.
RichmondHous0045.JPG
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