Water tanks are a large investment. They can be quite pricey depending on their capacity. Keeping your tank in good condition and filled with clean, potable water is a matter of life and death. Without a consistent water supply, human beings (and animals) can’t survive more than three days.
One of the most overlooked sources of tank damage occurs during installation. As a rule, owners inspect new tanks quite thoroughly, but they often forget to check beneath the tank, especially while it’s being installed.
Tanks can sit directly on the ground, but it’s much better to lay a base for them. This is because water tanks get heavy when they’re full. A 1000 litre water tank weighs a ton, literally, and if it sits on unstable ground, the surface could subside. This not only destabilises the area around it but could also damage the tank and waste any water stored inside it.
Before you put the tank down, check the ground carefully. Make sure it doesn’t have any jagged edges or hidden stones that could puncture the tank. Test the ground for firmness, and make sure there are no insects or animals beneath your chosen spot. A sudden infestation of burrowing moles or digging termites could turn the solid ground into a porous mesh in hours, so make sure the area is clear of active life.
To avoid the damage that can be caused by shifting ground and biological infestations, it helps to put a flat base below your tank. This helps to keep the tank level so that it doesn’t warp or spill. It distributes water weight evenly to prevent the ground from sinking, and it offers a flat, impermeable surface so that nothing can pierce the tank from below. Laying a proper base is the first step in extending the lifespan of your tank.
Tank bases can be raised platforms or stands made of wood, steel or wrought iron, but the preferred option is an on-ground base made with solid concrete or pavers laid over a firm base of natural stone. If you’re using pavers, you’ll have to dig into the ground until you reach a solid stone table.
Impurities can be another source of damage for your tank. Not only do they make the water unsuitable for use, but some contaminants can pierce the tank from inside. Install a filter system at your main water inlet. It could be a disposable filtration fabric, or it could be a more mechanical system that flushes out unwanted material. Whichever option you settle for, make sure that you clean the filter regularly as part of your tank maintenance.
If your tank has a pump system, you can keep it in better working condition by not taxing it unnecessarily. Even with a pump, make gravity work for you. Use a tilted gutter system to collect rain water from your roof and lead it into the tank. Rainwater should get into the tank from the top, while faucets should be installed closer to the bottom, so that gravity gives it more natural pressure. You can also elevate your tank so that water flows down naturally into your faucets. Ensure that all taps are made of rust-proof materials like stainless steel, brass, or plastic.
Every day, or maybe once a week, check the levels of water inside your tank. The frequency will depend on how much water you use in a given period. If the water is depleting faster than usual, there might be a leak, so try to identify the source. You should also inspect the integrity of the filters and netting, to make sure there are no holes.
Check to see whether your water is slimy, or has any unpleasant smell or taste. If the water is infested with algae, oil, or slime, treat the water with safe purification chemicals. Be sure that the chemicals are environmentally safe, and that they’re suitable for human and animal consumption.
Sometimes, the tank contamination happens in the rain gutters and inlets. Clean them regularly, paying special attention to rotting leaves, clogs, weeds, and any animals that might make their home in your gutters. As for the tank itself, while keeping it full is essential, it does need to be emptied and cleaned every so often.
Develop a cleaning cycle of between 3 and 5 years. After this period, empty the tank completely and flush it out with clean water. If necessary, you can use mild soap, but be sure to rinse it out completely. If possible, get a professional tank cleaner to handle this task for you. It may cost you some cash, but it will ensure your water stays safe and will keep your tank working efficiently for a much longer time.