Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Rain Barrel Fail
My tandem rain barrel arrangement failed on me sometime recently. Everything was working fine up until maybe two weeks ago when I drained em down during a period when we went over a week without rain. After that I noticed they weren't refilling. The problem was every time it rained I have been on the road working so I couldn't figure out where the system was failing.
Yesterday I checked and cleaned out all the gutters and got ready for the storm that was coming. It rained all afternoon, evening and most of the night and by sun down both tanks were over flowing. Then this morning they were empty again.
Hmmmmm. I checked the line out to the garden to be sure I hadn't left the hose on but it was shut off. I got out the hose from the tap and ran it into the guttering to make sure the flow was coming down the spout correctly. It was fine. Then I started filling the tanks and sure enough there is a crack in the bottom seam of the first tank.
I had an unfortunate freezing issue last Fall that cracked one tank which I replaced this Spring but the tank that failed cannot be more than three years old and gets stored for Winter. I know both tanks were working fine up until the middle of May because they held water then. Where I have the tanks located they are not in direct sunlight so there shouldn't have been any degeneration from that so I would hope these tanks would last longer than three years. I am guessing when I ran them dry is when the side shrank down and developed a stress fracture as the crack is really small.
Oh well. I am not going to replace this tank but will just reduce my system back down to one barrel and look into a different type of tank for the future. I knew this particular brand was a little to thin in the wall for heavy barn use but figured it would be fine for the garden and house. Now I know.
I really liked this type though because it was the perfect size to fit under my gutters and be even with the bottom of the window above the deck allowing me to check the level from inside and also giving me the elevation I needed for gravity flow into the garden. My guess is whatever I find to replace this tank is going to require a complete redesign of the down spout at the very least. To be honest after the early freeze issue and now this I am wondering if a galvanized metal tank of some type with a custom made screen wouldn't be a better option overall.
A three year life span may seem reasonable in today's consumer economy but I am looking for something a bit more longer lasting and since for this particular application it needs to be above ground stronger materials are obviously required than plastic. On the bright side the cistern backup is still working fine and in the case of failure without replacement resources I could just direct the entire flow into the cistern and by pass the tanks all together and still have water storage. The tanks were simply an easy way to have water I could flow into the garden in a grid down situation.
So what I have determined is the setup is sound. For three years I was able to use this system to water the garden on rain water alone, except for 2012 when I finally got lazy during the drought. Even when I did get lazy I could have pumped the water out of the cistern and did for months I just finally got tired of doing it. The weak link turned out to be the cheap tanks so I need to research something a bit more permanent, cold hardiness and able to withstand freezing pressure would be nice as well. Of course even now we are not looking at a complete failure as I still have one tank left and three years of no real outside water source is an achievement in and of itself.
I am definitely thinking a galvanized metal tank might be the answer especially if I can design a screen top for it.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!