Im adding rainwater to the existing well i have to my house. Rain will go into a 1200 gallon tank and will be pumped straight to hot water heater. Cold water will still be from well.
My well water has a strong sulphur smell, especially when hot. After showering, the house smells.I rigged up a pump to provide bottled water to refrigerator for drinking water.
The dishwasher trays corrode in ruffly a year. Its very alkaline.
The reason for a hybrid-there is no way to supply all my needs from rainwater. Water for cows, sheep, turkeys, horses, garden etc would use it up quick. And we can go 6 months easy with no rain.
The hot water supply will solve many issues. Shower will be good, water for rice/noodles can now come from hot water faucet rather than bottled water fridge source. Heck, i can run hot water to fridge and ill have drinking water/ice from rainwater
If the rainwater runs out, i can still fill the tank and add acid to solve the alkaline problem.
Im pretty stoked about it. Im splurging for a stainless tank from metalraintanks.com. They are nice enough to meet me at the Mother Earth news fair this weekend to pick it up. They were going anyways. Saves me 8 hours driving or $$ in freight to ship it. Its like 6ft diameter x 6ft tall.
What kind of roof do you have? Metal ideally.
Will you have first flush system? What about other filtration?
I'm curious,cause you describe going from tank to waterheater to food and body use.
Heat might kill pathogens, but natural or artificial toxins or contaminants need to be filtered.
You probably have all this covered,I was just wondering about the details.
Well goes thru uv light and 2 spindown filters. Ill do same for rain. Roof is metal with no exposed screws . Gutter stays clean, no trees around. They sold me a kit with first flush. Ill have more info when i see it sunday.
My family farm has a similar well water\ rain water system. Our well water leaves limestone deposits, tastes funny, but is safe to drink. We always assume the rain water has some amount of bird poop from the roof.
There are a couple of issues we have that I would like to point out so you have the opportunity to address them before you put the system in and are stuck.
Since we have the clean well water, the rain water is never used for drinking or cooking. If we wanted to use this water for these purposes we would need to chlorinate it and regularily test it. We consider rain water safe for washing dishes since it is heated.
We also have a "possesed" shower. This bathroom draws hot water from the rain water cistern and cold from the well. They are on two different pump systems which kick in at different times. So using this particular shower results in a blast of hit water alternating with a blast of cold water. I think this was originally designed for baths not showers. Luckily there is another shower where both hot and cold are from the rain water system.
I would suggest you have the system put in in such a way that rain water can be used either hot or cold. Well water only needs to be cold.
Or rain water system is pretty much only used for showers, laundry, and washing dishes.
Im working from water heater out for the piping. The white pvc is the new pipe to supply rainwater to water heater. I had a pathway into the house from a retrofitted hose we had to run previously for ac evap line and water heater pressure overflow. Its to right of my front door and goes thru the hall closet thats adjacent to water heater closet.
I may tee the rainwater line to the well line. Doing so would allow me to swap systems by opening and closing valves, vs changing over that flex line from valve to valve.
I placed that 2x4 behind valve so i can put a conduit clamp to seat it. It will be added soon
Heres the line coming out of house. No choice but to leave some above ground. I'll do something to insulate it. Where it hits dirt it will be about 3 inches down, but another 4" will be added above that. That 4" will be sand and gravel for a sidewalk. Ill probably place feed sacks as a barrier between dirt and sand.
This should get more interesting once i get to tank, leaf eater, first flush installations. I thought a total project documentation may be interesting for some.
I got "water in" and "water out" fone today. I still have overflow and the pump room to do. Hete are the components in stalled.
The first pic shows the first flush. Just under the tee (under leaf eater) is a funnel that is glued into the bottom tee joint. Under that tee is a ball. When it rains, the water goes down the pipe, rather than across to the tank. The ball floats in this "flush" water. Once that pipe is full, the ball hits the funnel and redirects the water into the tank.
At the bottom of the first flush device is a pipe nipple. It is screwed onto the bottom with a rubber gasket that has a hole in the bottom. It came with 8 gaskets in 2 colors. Looks like the colors represent different hole sizes. Looks like it is dedigned to always flow water, but you can control the amount of flow with those gaskets.
Putting a water hose in gutter, it took a couple of minutes to fill the flush device. There was a definite sound difference when the ball sealed and the tank was filling. Then it swapped back and forth as the bottom leak unsealed the ball.
Theres a filter with that nipple. Ill get a pic later. The nipple unscrews as well as a bigger access that lets you remove the ball. Ill get pics soon.
This is the pipe going into the tank. I had a "crap" moment with this. The tee joint is 4" so i ran 4" into tank. A little note came with the kit to match this pipe with the size of overflow pipe, which is 3". It makes sense, cause if the intake water flows more than the overflow,...you get the picture.
I opted for this top roof entry after first doubting it. Uou don't want light entering your tank. Icky stuff starts growing. When i brought this up with metalraintanks.com they said people fill that area with pumice rocks. Sounded reasonable to me. If i added another bung on the side, i considered things like the pipe breaking if the tank settled. This gives some flex in the system. If you look at the whole system, i can remove it by loosening one clamp on the rubber connector up top and 1 screw where its strapped to brick.
The screen seems super heavy duty. I don't see it failing, especially when rocks are added to keep direct sun of the rubber reinforcement on the screen.
This is the first section. The leaf eater. Im showing the debris it caught from running the water hose for testing. There was no debris in the second screen where pipe dumps into tank. The screen lifts off by pushing up on two tabs. Very nice design. The previous style i have used was pretty useless.
Rather than remove the screen, i was able to get the debris off with a water hose from the ground.
I got sidetracked planting trees today. It drizzled most of day and all the water was running out that bottom nipple. I swapped out the rubber gasket for one with a smaller hole. It was a sugnificant difference. Like the pee stream from a human vs a mouse.
Heres the exit point for using the water. I attached a spigot which will not be pressurized. That pipe is not capped off, so water was coming out further down the line.
I cut the hole in the well room floor and ran the pipe into it. Next step is pump, uv light and spindown filter. I ordered parts for the uv light so i can rebuild it. After this i can pump the water. Tank seems about 2/3 full.
This is called a spindown filter. This particular model has a sediment trap. The trap is a holding area below the filter. Its made by russo. Very brilliant and saves $ since there is no filter to change. No charcoal versions are available, but that would necessitate replacement.
Periodically you open the bottom valve and flush/clean the screen. The bottom valve is threaded so you can attach tubing to put the water in a bucket, or out the door.
The filters are confusing as they go by mesh size. The smaller the mesh size the BIGGER the hole size. Whereas with microns, the smaller the number the smaller the particle it filters. They have conversion charts that show what micron each mesh size filters. The mesh (depending on mesh size) is available in plastic or stainless steel.
The pic attach shows it with the valve open. A circular motion is created which really cleans it out.
Nice Wayne! I really like what you've done and what a great thread. Seeing your rainwater catchment setup has seeded some ideas in my head for something I'd like to do here in the not too distant future. Thanks for sharing!!
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
Here are the guts to the uv light. The tube runs through the unit to keep water off the bulb. It has a wiper rod to clean the tube. You just pull the handle out and back in. I had a bad plug end so i dont have light working. Parts are coming.
The first flush, which keeps the first water out of the tank. Its designed to always leak at the bottom to keep sediment down in the trap. This is the ball that floats and closes off the first flush so water can enter the tank.
Last piece of first flush is the nipple that leaks. There were 2 sizes of gaskets that had holes in them. The smaller hole added water to tank with a drizzle. The larger hole kept opening closing ball in full rain. Ill keep the big hole in. Its usually all or nothing here as far as rain.
And the groundfos pump. Ive talked about these in the past. Its brilliant but not cheap. The pump is all you need. No pressure switch, backflow valve, or pressure tank is needed. The water pressure is very good. I probably made an error by locating the spindown filter after the pump. A better design might be before it. Actually, maybe the light and filter should both be before the pump? I have to look into that. I can change it.
The key to uv lights is filtering before it enters the light. Any debris will cause shadows, which keeps the light from hitting everybit of water. I kept the filter close to the light.
This is full view from outside. Unfinished but i think you can see what i did. The trail of pipes are becoming sidewalks. I added the leftover sand. After its spread i will add a mulch as final top. That wall of house is planted for hummingbirds and butterflies. I want something easy on the knees when we work on it.
I put innoculated oyster and shitake logs behind the tank to take advantage of the shade there
Absolutely epic thread Wayne! Thank you so much for sharing. I love Nel & Dean Wheeler (owners of MetalRainTanks.com). They are super knowledgeable & friendly people.
What's your source for those spindown filters?
I can say its great to see the capture and use of railwater.
In Australia it is the most common way of water collection used.
We usually have bigger tanks, mine range from 5000 gal [22,000 L] to xxxx gal [ 200,000L]
Its unusual to bother will chlorination and UV lights etc, and I really think you blokes have been sold stuff that in reality is not needed.
The basic mistake some people make is to have a tank that is too small, which does not allow for time to settle etc.
Alos a trick is to float a take off point about 4 inches below the water surface, instead of at the base of the tank, it saves getting sediment if it happens to build up
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
The Enemy of progress is the hope of a perfect plan
I want to expand on why i used a groundfos pump ($400+) vs a tradition shallow well/jet pump (-$200).
Its the auto shut off feature. If there's no water it will turn off and try to restart (maybe once every 5 minutes), preventing bearing failure. I have had this happen, where the pump was running dry for several hours and the pump was destroyed. In that case, buying a second pump almost equalled the price of a groundfos.
The other issue is ickyness. I used a harbor freight cast iron pump that had a self contained pressure tank and switch, so the only thing missing was a check valve.. It was probably close to $100 on sale. The pressure was good for what i used it for. The problem was the ick. If it sat for a bit, i would get a surge of rusty water. I still had an issue of overheating if water ran out of the tank.
I am not sure if groundfos is the only pump or if there are cheaper alternatives with ick free auto (dry) shutoffs. If there are, i'd love to hear about them.
I have some feedback. System has been running for a month.
Initially, it was a fail. I introduced some debris into the system with the new pvc pipe. Enuff that i had 0% to 50% pressure throughout the house compared to the cold water side. Once that was cleared up i had no noticeable pressure difference between the 2 systems.
I met my goal of not having a sulphur smelling shower. I am happy i did this. I also like the ides of dual sourcing that can get me thru power outages. Even if i fill it with wellwater(between rains) the smell seems subdued. I think i read that well water will offgas the sulphur smell if allowed to aerate.
Another benefit is not having the hardwater build up in my water heater.
A couple of extra bits of info;
I find the brass ball valves better than the plastic ones. The plastic has broken on my system wherever the valve gets a lot of sun on it
The item you call a spin off filter is also available with loose discs. The discs have grooves and are held tight with a nut, to clean them you disassemble then and wash them out.
Different discs have other sizes of grooves, they are colour coded so depending on you needs you fit different disc sets.
Grunfos also produce pumps with a 'no water' safety device which prevents burnout if the tank is empty.
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
The Enemy of progress is the hope of a perfect plan