Cold Climate Rainwater Harvesting
Do you have an aboveground rainwater harvesting system that needs preparation for colder winter temperatures? Here are a few tips to get your rain harvesting gear ready and keep it safe and secure during the winter. The tips below are mainly for freeze protection, which is especially important if you have a pump hooked up to your system. Pipes and other system components can also be at risk for freezing if left exposed or if set up without cover, which can cause damage to your system.
If your rainwater system is belowground, there's less cause to worry. Typically, as long as piping and other components are installed below the frost line, the weather shouldn't affect the operation of the system.
Your Tank The larger the tank, the better. This is because the water collected will take longer to freeze in a larger reservoir. Additionally, we also recommend round tanks as opposed to square or rectangular ones; a round tank will lose heat slower than a rectangular one of similar volume which helps to stave off water freezing as well. You tank can also be insulated, regardless of whether or not it is an ideal size and shape like mentioned above. Spray-on polyurethane foam can be added to a tank to protect against winter weather. For more information on insulated tanks, check out our Custom Spray Foam page.
Insulated Custom Tanks at our Abbotsford, BC yard.
Valves & Pipes Valves can be protected by being placed in insulated boxes. Piping can also be protected by piping insulation to avoid freezing and cracking; pipe insulation is typically inexpensive and available at hardware stores.
Tank Foundations If you're still in the process of mapping out the space for your rain collection tank, consider mounting it onto an insulated concrete or gravel base. This type of base can reduce heat transfer and helps maintain structural stability.
Pumps Pumps are important to consider when winterizing your system - pumps should always be protected in a pump house or insulated boxes. Engine fluids will thicken at lower temperatures and should be monitored even when protected; additionally, fluids that are more appropriate for low temperatures should be used.
Summer-only Tanks If you don't have the time to winterize your system and if you don't need to utilize it during colder weather, consider temporarily de-commissioning your rain harvesting system to protect and preserve your system parts! We have a another great blog post on shutting down your rainwater harvesting system for the winter here.
Again, this advice pertains to aboveground rainwater harvesting systems. With these systems come limitations to what you can do, especially if you live in a climate with harsh winter weather. If you're still looking for information before installing, consider if a belowground system might be right for you. For more information on all types of systems, visit our website here or contact us.