As more people become environmentally aware and seek sustainability, rainwater collection has become increasingly popular. If you've been thinking about setting up a rainwater collection system, you'll want to be sure that your gutter system is designed so that it will work for you, not against you. Here are some tips to help you optimize your home's rain gutters so you can collect rainwater on your property.
Rainwater Harvesting Basics
Rainwater harvesting is the process of gathering the runoff of water from your roof. By placing your gutter system strategically so that the gutter drain runs into a collection tank, you can gather and store rainwater to use around your house. Rainwater is great for just about anything, except consumption. You need treated water for drinking and cooking.
The best thing about rainwater harvesting is that it gives you water to use for your gardens, washing your car and any other around-the-house uses. If there's a drought restriction in your neighborhood, you may still be able to wash your car and water the grass using your collected rainwater instead.
Rainwater Harvesting Setup
- Coordinate the Downspouts – Take a minute to evaluate the roof structure of your house and the corresponding placement of the downspouts. Make sure that each section of your roof has a downspout placed properly to collect all of the water that drains. You might want to have someone dump buckets of water in different areas of the roof so you can watch the path that the water takes. That way, you can adjust a downspout if necessary to ensure that you're capturing all of the draining water.
- Cover the Gutters – If you're going to be collecting the water from your gutters, you need to make sure you're not getting any debris in there. Leaves, sticks and other things can block the gutters and make a mess of the water. Additionally, you'll want to have a barrier in place to keep mosquitos and other bugs out, too. The best way to do this is to install mesh covers over the surface of the gutters.
- Protect the Water – Every time the rain starts, the first bit of rain is going to wash away debris and contaminants from your roof's surface. You'll want to keep this out of your rainwater storage. You can do this by adding a flush diverter to the collection system. The flush diverter is designed to collect the first running water that comes through the gutter system, keeping the contaminants out of your stored water. When the diverter fills up, the rest of the water then flows into your collection system.
- Build Your Storage System – Invest in a cistern to store the water in. Think about how much water you're likely to collect, and plan accordingly so that you have sufficient storage space. Then, invest in screens that you can place over the top of the cistern to keep bugs and debris out of the tank. Then, include an air tap and an overflow structure so that you can avoid back-flow in heavy rains. Finally, add a pump and filter system so that you can not only access and use the water, but filter out any residual sediment that may be left.
When it comes to sustainability, collecting rainwater is a great way to create some water independence and protect your property from the hazards of water restrictions. A rainwater collection system can be a great investment, and when paired with a solar water heater, can give you a lot of versatility with very little energy demand. With the tips presented here, you can turn your home's gutters into a beneficial structure to help you collect rainwater.