This page contains two sections, the first is a list of general water tank hints. The second is a list of frequently asked questions about the WaterBoy Product.
Water Tank Hints
The following is a distillation of my knowledge after 30 years on tank water, much learnt the hard way, and with an emphasis on simplicity and economy.This diagram is referenced in some of the points below.
1. Minimize or eliminate overhanging branches from above or near your roof. This will reduce a lot of organic matter from entering your tank. It will also prevent most animals from access to your roof.
2. Keep the guttering clean, within reason, say annual clean, if possible. At the same time check the downpipes and joiners etc. to make sure they won't leak or fall apart - water is valuable and they can go un-noticed if they are out of the way.
3. Install a WaterBoy. I think it's the single best thing you can do to improve your water quality.
4. Install a first flush diverter/s. It will capture the first 20 litres or so of rainfall, which contains (arguably) the worst contaminants. It is really the only pre-straining device I would recommend. Most others become clogged with debris too quickly. It/they will still need cleaning periodically.
5. If your tank has a loaded delivery system ie it runs lower than the tank level and then up to the top (as in the drawing) make sure it has an inspection plug at the lowest accessible point and drain it annually. This is important. You will probably be unpleasantly surprised at the gunk that comes out. If you don't have an inspection plug get one installed, it is quite a simple task.
6. Install a tank level indicator. This isn't really concerned with water quality but its good to know the approximate level of your water and it's a lot easier than climbing up to have a look in the top. I like the simple floating type that sticks out the top of the tank. If your tank starts to get low you can point it out to wasteful visitors or children-its an educational device.
7. Install a simple drinking water filter, near your kitchen sink. Your WaterBoy will ensure the filters last a long time. Use this for all your drinking water including replacing your store bought bottled water. This is great for you, your wallet and the planet... bottled water has a huge carbon footprint!
8. Install a bottom overflow pipe. This will mean when your water tank overflows the water will come from the bottom of the tank, the worst water remember. This works by siphon. The 2 holes at the top (see diagram) will stop siphoning when the water level drops below them.
The above hints may sound like a lot of work and a bit expensive but are well worth the effort but I have condensed them as much as possible and they will save you a lot of time and money, not to mention doing the right thing for the planet. Remember, all the rainwater you can collect is free and it can be better than city, reticulated water. Also it will give you a reliable water supply. The worst scenario with water tanks is when you turn on the tap and nothing comes out.
For new home builders / buyers I would say get as many big (25,000 ltr +) tanks as possible, within reason, say 2-4 and install them at the same level if possible. Remember that roof area is what determines how much rain is harvested and use that in your calculations.
Water is a valuable resource and getting more so daily. Have a look at city water prices it will make you feel better about the cost of the extra tank/s and it is real luxury not to have to worry about running out of water. not to mention the feel good factor of doing the right thing for the planet.
With a really good set-up as described above your maintenance chores should be about half a day per year which isn't too bad for the privilege of great quality, free rainwater and as I mentioned earlier simplicity and a little forward planning will ensure complete domestic harmony! Well as far as water is concerned that is.
Are you motivated? Good! And Good Luck.
The following are some common WaterBoy questions and answers that you may find of assistance:
Q. I've had tank water for years and never had problems, so why would I want a WaterBoy unit?
A. Realistically (and statistically) the chances of fatal diseases from tank water are very low, however, there is a very high chance of 'minor' illnesses. These are caused mainly by E-coli and campylobacter bacteria which are present in virtually every water tank. They are concentrated at the bottom of the tank and if you ingest too many you get an upset tummy and or diarrhoea. Most people attribute their symptoms to bad food and accept the inconvenience, but it shouldn't be so. Good water is the very basis of health and our immune systems have enough work to do already without extra caused by an easily preventable burden of faecal bacteria. Also this type of illness spreads easily so it tends to affect the whole family.
Q. I've got good strainers and leaf filters so my tank is clean?
A. Sorry but it can never be really clean. You cannot practically filter water to your tank. Imagine what happens to bird droppings when it rains. They are dissolved and the water travels to the tank. The bacteria are already single-celled organisms in suspension. The good thing about this inescapable scenario is that the bacteria do sink to be the bottom zone.
Q. I already have filters for my water tank. Will the WaterBoy interfere with them?
A. Not at all. Filters can be very good but the most efficient at removing the smallest organisms are expensive and can clog up quite quickly. The cleaner water that the WaterBoy obtains means that your filters will last a longer before needing cleaning or replacement. In fact, filters can actually breed bacteria if they become blocked so they do require regular monitoring.
Q. My tank is an unusual size/shape. Will the WaterBoy work?
A. Yes. It will work on tanks of all sizes and shapes. Further information is included with the units fitting instructions (when ordering be sure to state the material the tank is constructed of as the relevant fitting instructions differ).
Q. Is it difficult to install?
A. Not at all. Saying that, the water level inside the tank must be shallow enough to stand in and reach the outlet. This equates to about a quarter of a tank of water. The whole operation should only take 15mins and is basically just screwing or pushing the end of the Waterboy unit into the outlet. Waterboys have been installed by snorkelling in a full tank but it is not recommended.
Q. I've got a full tank so I've got to empty it to install the Waterboy?
A. Not completely. It is easy to install with approximately a quarter full tank. It is difficult for many people to "waste" their tank water but its mostly a psychological barrier. If it is done before good rainfall is forecast it is full again in no time. The dramatic positive benefits of the WaterBoy easily outweigh the loss of some water. If you can't bear the thought of lowering the tank level you should purchase a unit and install it when the water level is low due to drought or high usuage.
Q. I'm not too handy or I'm too busy to install it myself. What shall I do?
A. Any handyman with a ladder could install a Waterboy (It comes with full instructions) or a tank specialist or plumber can easily do it.
Q. What happens if I run out of water?
A. Exactly what happens if you run out now i.e. the pump will be in danger of sustaining damage. The Waterboy unit cannot become blocked so the priority is to turn off the pump and get more water! We recommend a tank level indicator because we all know how inconvenient running out of water is.
Q. We have an old wooden tank with an out let pipe that runs up and over the top (a siphon system) because it has a tank liner. Can we still install a WaterBoy?
A. Yes. It will require a different attachment where it connects to the bottom of the outlet pipe but as with the many other varieties of outlets there is an adapter for every possible scenario. If you provide the correct measurment at the time of ordering we will include the appropriate fitting, if not we will include a 32mm fitting which is fairly standard. If this is incompatable we can easily exchange it for one that is.
Q. On the order form I've got to provide a measurement which seems a bit tricky. How do I do it?
A. It's actually pretty easy. All you need to do is measure across the pipe that sticks out at the bottom of your tank. It will probably (but not always ) go into a valve and then to the pump. The diameter of the outlet pipes vary but as long as you get it fairly accurate we can send the correct fitting. If you don't include a measurement we will send a 32mm fitting which is the most common. If that is wrong we can send the correct fitting the next day. Don't forget to indicate the material your tank is made of as this is also relevant.
Q. What kind of guarantee do you offer?
A. The WaterBoy is guaranteed for 10 years. However, as its constructed from the finest materials available it should last for many more. We also offer a full money back guarantee (excluding postage and packing) if returned within 21 days, for any reason whatsoever!
Q. I am in Australia / the USA / the Pacific Islands / Europe, can I purchase a Waterboy?
You can and you should. You can pay by credit card and amount charged will be calculated by your credit card company based on the NZ dollar exchange rate at the time of purchase. However, as your order is for export from New Zealand, you only pay the GST exempt WaterBoy price of NZ$208.70. We recommend using the New Zealand currency calculator to obtain an estimate of the cost in your own currency.
Q. I have more than one tank do. I need more than one WaterBoy?
A. No. You only need one on the common outlet.
Q. Will it mean I have less water pressure if I have a gravity feed system?
A. No. It will be the same pressure.