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How do rainwater harvesting systems cope with frost and snow

Posted by Barry Nutley on 20 January 2010 at 9:07 am

As the snow and frost begin to thaw we look at the impact that has on rainwater harvesting, and what to do about it.

Underground tank:

1. As far as the tank, and any components housed within it are concerned, very little, if any, extra care is needed. The temperature of the ground at that depth remains relatively constant at around 10 degrees centigrade, so there is no risk of freezing.

2. If you have an externally housed pump, then consider where this is housed. Is there a risk of freezing? If so, then either take measures to reduce the risk (cover it with blankets or similar), or switch to the mains.

3. The biggest risk is the freezing of any external pipe runs. If you haven't taken precautions to prevent this at the installation stage then you can only cross your fingers and hope that they will thaw without bursting. Whether they do, or not, it makes sense to lag them before it freezes again, and is easy and cheap to do.

Above ground tank:

1. You could find yourself with problems if you don't take precautions. Not only do you have the same risks with external pipe runs as above. But there is a risk that your water butt will freeze, with the pump inside, and possibly damage either, or both. Most manufacturers recommend that during these times, the system is drained down, and pump removed.

I know it seems criminal to waste all this water, but with all this snow, it won't take long to fill back up. Ignore this advice at your peril!

 Photo by Chris Satchwell

About the author: Barry Nutley is co-founder and director of Viridis Energie Consultants

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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