Record-breaking low temperatures nationwide play havoc with transportation, utilities and water pipes. They also can give quality rainwater harvesting systems a rough time. When weather gets bitter, a temporarily shut down is the best way to baby your system.
In many cases, shutting down a system is not an option, so quality insulation is the first step in problem prevention. The amount of insulation needed depends on how cold it gets in your area. If below-freezing temperatures persist for several consecutive days or longer, water in the rain tank could freeze. While pipes and pumps won’t be damaged unless the water freezes completely, pipes with only a small amount of water are most likely to freeze quickly.
Another step for preventing internal freezing is to circulate the water. Old timers did this in horse troughs by putting a piece of wood in the tank to float around and (hopefully) to prevent ice from forming completely. Today, we can use the rain water harvesting system’s pump continuously during the freeze. Keep the water moving slowly to prevent it from freezing solid.
In addition, tank water can be heated, a solution that’s commonly used in extremely cold climates. Heat sources range from solar and propane to electricity. While pricey if used over a long period, heating the tank water is ideal during short periods of freezing weather.
Everyone who enjoys the convenience and abundance that comes from a rain water harvesting system should have a freeze-prevention plan on standby. Discuss these details with your rain harvesting system installer at the time your system is put in place. A well-designed rain harvesting system with a freeze-prevention plan will result in less maintenance and better performance for you.