Choosing, installing and maintaining rainwater tanks

Getting the right tank for you

Rainwater tanks are available in a large variety of shapes, materials and sizes. Choosing the best water tank for your situation will help you to preserve one of our most precious resources and reduce your water bill. There are a number of points to consider when deciding which rainwater tank is going to be right for you.

The obvious decision you need to consider when purchasing a tank is around the tank size. A good rule of thumb is to purchase a tank that holds a minimum of four weeks supply. For instance, if you use 1,000L of tank water each week in the garden, toilet and laundry combined, you should consider purchasing a 4,000L tank.

To reduce installation costs, you should locate your rainwater tank close to your house, near existing downpipes. Consider whether underground, above ground, under the house or against the wall work for your situation.

Installing a rainwater tank

The best time to install a rainwater tank is when you don’t need it. Fitting your tank at the beginning of your wet season will ensure that you have as much water as possible to sustain you during the dry season.

Remember that ‘prevention is better than the cure’, so keep your gutters free from debris with a range of devices or just by cleaning them out regularly. The tank itself needs regular external inspections for leaks and an internal inspection for sludge every few years. This can be dangerous so contact a professional if you need help doing this.

There are a number of steps involved in installing a rainwater tank. Ask your plumber to give you a comprehensive quote on installation that fully complies with local and national legislation.


Rainwater tanks are a great way of collecting water for use on your garden, in your laundry or for toilet flushing. But its important to keep the system in good condition for both safety and operational efficiency. Many rainwater tanks will require attention within a year or two so if you’ve got a tank in your garden or you’ve just purchased a property with a tank here are some simple tasks you can do to look after it and check your water quality. If you follow these maintenance guidelines, your rainwater storage basin should provide you with suitable water for years to come.

Some quick tank maintenance tips:

  • Have your roof checked to see what it is made of and painted with, to ensure that it is safe and not toxic.
  • Cover all openings with mosquito proof mesh.
  • Fit gutters and downpipes with traps to catch litter and twigs.
  • Every few years clean out the inside of the tank.
  • Ensure there are air vents to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.

If you have connections to laundry or bathrooms:

  • Regularly check that the pump and automatic switch to mains water are both working properly.
  • Check that the pump turns on when you flush the toilet.
  • Install a level indicator on the tank so you know how much water you have.
  • The mains switch should only switch to mains water if the tank is empty or the pump fails. It may be possible to check this if the tank empties during summer.
  • If your system uses a float switch in the tank to top up the tank from mains water instead of a mains switch, then check that the tank water level is correct. Frequently check that the float switch has not failed and water is not overflowing to the stormwater drain (unless rainfall is causing the overflow).
  • If you are not confident cleaning the tank or checking that the system is operating properly then call a plumber to inspect and repair it.
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