Monday, December 26, 2016

Winter Catchment update

Last spring I created a catchment system (or rather, finished and upgraded the existing system) to catch rainwater off the house. I made some changes during the summer and into the fall as I realized certain aspects of the system wouldn't work as designed.

But I knew I needed to go through at least one winter to finalize everything.

We live in an area that gets extremely hot and dry during the summer, but we also have extreme cold during the winter. Not what some would call extreme (it rarely gets down below 0 degrees) but cold enough to have three or four months of solid freeze in a normal year. I don't want my tanks to freeze and possibly crack, so I needed something to stop the water flowing into the tanks during the winter.

I set up the systems so the water runs first into a primary drainspout, otherwise known as a first flush diverter because it catches the debris, bird poop, etc, that comes off the roof in the first "flush" of any storm. During the winter my first flush system is open, so nothing (or very little) gets past it and into the tanks. The tanks are also open so any water that does get into them will hopefully drain right back out again.

A few weeks ago the whole system in front came crashing down, mainly because I hadn't used the right screws to put up the pipe under the drainspout. So I got that fixed, all screwed in, and this week I ran into another problem--the water backed up into the pipes and froze, backed up more until the rain gutter itself was full of ice.

I got all the ice out and figured out the problem--somehow the horizontal arm of the drainspout/first flush diverter had gotten angled so it had a slight upward tilt. This was enough to have water pooling in the elbow, which of course froze during the night and formed a plug for more water coming down.

It's been a learning process.

1) People living in cold climates will need a way to shut the system off during the winter
2) Even a slight upward angle is going to cause problems, winter or summer
3) If you live in a cold climate, try to make sure the drainage pipes are in the sun
4) Don't finalize the system until you're sure it all works together
5) Monitor the system at least weekly during the first year