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Rainwater Tank fail safes  RSS feed

 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I just left the orchard water on overnight and drained what was left in our big rain catchment tank for irrigation. Lost about 2,000 gallons, or about 2 months worth of water.

So, I'm using this mistake as an opportunity to develop some fails safes to prevent a similar disaster happening again. I usually use a timer to remind me, but yesterday I forgot to turn on the timer.

I've thought about a flag or indicator that was extremely obvious that the water was on to remind me. Another alternative might be a solar powered timer valve. I saw one for around $50.

Any other ideas?
 
allen lumley
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Abe Connally : I would add a valve to isolate the bulk of my water supply from a much smaller tank that was barely larger than the most that I could normally use
in a given 24 Hr period. Use a globe type valve so that a glance will always tell you which valves are open or closed !

I would only trust A dedicated solar panel that trickle charges a good battery that operates a timer to open and close a valve, but then I am a Suspenders and Belt
kind of a guy !

''Google" Rule of Nines Chart, soap-up only that part of your body, quick rinse, and move on to the next part using the last rinse water to soap-up the next, work
from your head towards your feet ! And pray for Rain ! Big AL !
 
Su Ba
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I use a simple technique to keep the tank from accidentally draining due to a pipe leak. Rather than having the outlet from the tank being a rigid pipe that draws from the bottom of the tank, I attached a flexible reinforced hose to the outlet pipe. The open end then was tied to a float (an empty sealed two liter soda bottle) so that the open end rests about 6 inches below the water surface. Thus the water draws from just below the surface. Cleaner water that way. Less debris. But the way to keep the water from draining below what you want is to tie a string to the float or to the hose end, then tie it to the tank edge. When the water gets too low, the draw stops. BUT the pump won't!!! So you need to have a means of auto shutting the pump off otherwise it will burn out. Our neighbor put a sensor on the outside of the pump that pops a switch turning off the electricity to the pump if the pump overheats. That's one way to do it and it works for us. I would guess there are other ways.

Of course it means that you have to check the level in the tank on a regular basis. Otherwise your house water gets shut off.

My ag tank that is used for irrigation works off of gravity feed. No pump. So it's less complicated. I use the floating flag method to indicate what the water level is.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Yeah, setting up a small tank near the orchard is probably a good idea. We do have the house, irrigation, and animal tanks all separate, so we still have water in the other tanks, it was the irrigation tank that drained. But, if I put a smaller tank, or even a barrel on that line and fill it once a week for irrigation, that would reduce the risk, somewhat.

I do use globe valves on everything, I just turned on the irrigation line and completely forgot about it until this morning. It's an honest mistake, but one I hope to never do again!

I don't know that I could completely trust a timer to shut off. Electrical components fail, but I'm not sure if they fail more than humans.

The flexible hose is a good idea. My irrigation tank is gravity fed, so no problem with the pump. I check the level of the tank once every week or 2, so it would be trivial to lower the flexible hose.

Another idea I thought about was a flashing red LED that turns one when a valve is open. I would have noticed that, because I water in the evening, and then shut the animals up in the barn at night, so it would have been easy to see something like that.

 
R Scott
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Grandpa had a big flag on the handle and the valve turned such that you see the flag only when the valve is on.

I second the flex pipe idea. It will prevent a complete loss.

A solar pump up to a second holding tank works, too. Float valve adjusted to the night's watering needs. Overflow back to main tank. Cutout switch so pump won't run if the tank valve is open. That way if you leave the valve open it won't just keep pumping out.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I think some sort of flag or light to indicate the valve is one would be really good, in case I forget to turn on the timer, like the other day. Combine that with the floating intake and/or a smaller "working" tank, and you have multiple levels of fail safes that would greatly reduce the risk.
 
Kris Minto
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My father use to forget that his faucet was turned up and it would run all night. I bought his a mechanical timer which should work if your system is gravity fed.

The timer look similar this this one:
http://m.homedepot.com/p/Melnor-Mechanical-Water-Timer-480-616/100659515/

Kris
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Kris Minto wrote:My father use to forget that his faucet was turned up and it would run all night. I bought his a mechanical timer which should work if your system is gravity fed.

I've never seen a mechanical timer like that before. I should look for one. That's better than me setting a timer, for sure.

I'm still going to put in the other fail safes (flex hose, flag/light), just in case the timer fails, but that little timer might be a great way to do it.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Some of the mechanical timers need decent pressure to work. Look for one that says it works for drip irrigation.
 
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