Monday, October 17, 2022

How to Harvest Rainwater at Home

Learn how to collect rain water at home and the importance of rainwater harvesting.  Rain water can be used to water your garden or for other outdoor methods.  The water isn't potable, but you can treat it and use it for drinking water.

How to Collect Rain Water at Home

We have three wells on the property, so whoever set it up was smart about it.  The barn had its own well, there's a well for the out buildings, and there's a well under the farmhouse.

Even with three wells, we want to be careful not to let them go dry.  That's an expense that I do not want, not to mention the inconvenience!

We also have a row of four ponds that are connected but separate.  The man who made them created four different eco systems for different fish and wildlife.  

There are several outbuildings, and they have gutters to collect the water.  The water then goes underground to a pipe that empties into the north pond to fill the ponds.  

This helps us divert water when the snow melts or when we get heavy rains.  It also keeps the ponds full.  

With all of this water, none of it is near our garden area.  We use a rain harvesting method and store in tanks to use to water the garden.

We're either moving the garden (it's in a perfect spot for growing; not so great for convenience) or getting a better system for watering without using the well eventually.

For more sustainability reads, check out these posts:

Is Collecting Rainwater Illegal?

Before you get started learning how to collect rain water at home, it is imperative that you check to make sure that it is legal to do so in your area. This is one of the most important steps as, of course, you don’t want to get into any trouble. 

Some local laws prohibit or restrict the collection of rainwater, or certain harvesting rainwater methods, because it reduces the amount of water that makes it back into lakes and rivers via the evaporation process. Always be sure to check and see what your local laws say about rainwater collecting. 

What Is The Easiest Way to Collect Rainwater?

Harvesting rainwater at home is a lot simpler than you might think. In fact, lots of homesteaders already collect rainwater for use in their home.

The easiest way to collect rainwater is just to use a large container, typical barrels, to collect it. To do this, you just need to set an open container out somewhere on your property and wait for it to rain. 

This is one of the easiest and most popular methods, but it does have some drawbacks. For instance, this method makes it harder to keep solids and debris from getting into the water. 

How Do You Keep Rainwater from Stagnating?

The best way to keep rainwater from stagnating is to process it soon after harvesting it. This means that you should be processing your water into storage containers about every ten days, though I recommend doing it once a week. 

What Is The Importance of Rainwater Harvesting?

The importance of rainwater harvesting is that it lets you harvest usable water cheaper than you would typically pay for it. It is also a good alternative to the standard methods of getting water in case of an emergency. 

Should there ever be an issue with your utilities, including boiling warnings, power failures, or natural disaster, you will still be able to harvest and use water for your family. 

What Can I Use Harvested Rainwater For?

This is perhaps the most important question when learning how to harvest rainwater at home. You can use rainwater to do anything that you would normally use tap water for, indoors or outdoors. 

Without purifying it, you can use rainwater to water the garden or lawn, refill ponds, wash off the sidewalk, and other such activities. 

Once it has been purified, you can use it to supplement drinking water, bathe, use it in cooking, or even refill a swimming pool.

Water is an incredibly important resource, and as such, having a variety of methods to collect it is always a good idea. 

Many people use rainwater collection systems incase of natural disaster or their utilities go out. This way, you always have access to water.

Here are some ways to use your harvested rain water:

  • Water the garden
  • Fill your swimming pool
  • Treat for animals or livestock
  • Wash the car
  • Fill bird baths
  • Toilet
  • Bathing (treat water first)

How Much Rainwater Can I Collect?

From a practical perspective, you can collect as much rainwater as you can store. To do this, it is important that you have a nice and dry place to store the water so that it does not become contaminated, and so that the containers do not get damaged.

From a legislative perspective, you will have to consult state and local laws. Some areas place restrictions on how much water you can collect and store, so you will have to do some research before getting started. 

Generally, and this can vary widely depending on rain fall and the collection system, but you can calculate approximately how much water you can harvest.

Take the size of your roof in square feet and multiply it by the monthly rain fall in inches.  Then multiply by 0.62 conversion factor and then multiply again by the collection factor, which is between 75 and 90 percent.

If we assume a 1,000 square foot roof and 3 inches of rainfall per month, we get:

1000x3x0.62x.74=1,395 gallons per month or 16,740 gallons per year.

This assumes that my rain harvesting equipment is 75 percent effective.

How to Harvest Rainwater Without a Roof

Harvesting rainwater without a roof can be tricky, and there are not a lot of harvesting rainwater methods that don’t use roofs. What you can do is use one of the methods in this article with an artificial roof.

By this I mean, building a slanted structure to run gutters from can help you to collect rainwater if you live somewhere with a flat roof, or if you want a collector away from the house.  

Are There Any Disadvantages To Harvesting Rainwater?

Strictly speaking, there are not many disadvantages that come with harvesting rainwater. There are two things, however, that you should factor in when planning to install a rainwater collection system. 

First, you will need space to store the collector. Additionally, you will need to purchase the materials in order to actually build the collector. This, of course, is something that must be taken into consideration. 

How Much Does It Cost To Harvest Rainwater?

Ultimately, the answer to this question will depend on what system you decide to use to collect rainwater. There are a variety of options at your disposal, so I recommend researching each one and seeing which will be the best fit for your property.

Can I Drink Water From RainWater Collection System?

After it has been purified, you can drink water from a rainwater collection system. The purification process is something that must be taken seriously, as rain water is not safe to drink right from collection.

Before using your harvested rain water for drinking, cooking, or bathing, it must be treated.  You will need to filter it and remove chemicals and germs.

Boiling kills germs, including bacteria, parasites, and viruses.  You can also use a water purification tablet or bleach to purify water.

Rainwater Collection Ideas 

There are three popular and distinct methods that you can use for harvesting rainwater at home. Following are some of the best rainwater collection ideas to help collect rainwater on your property.

Using Barrels To Collect Rain Water

This is one of the easiest, and thus most popular, harvesting rainwater methods that you can use to collect rainwater. To do this, all you have to do is place a barrel underneath the downspout on your gutter. 

You can use any container, but barrels or other such cylindrical containers are preferred. Further, the barrel can be brand new or a recycled one. This is an easy system and can be used by anyone, anywhere.

It does not cost a lot of money to install, as barrels can be acquired relatively easily. Plus, it does not take up a lot of space. However, it should be noted that the amount of water is entirely dependent on the size of the barrel you use, and most are in the 50-100 gallon range. 

Additionally, without proper supervision the barrel can overflow, and the water that would have been collected would go to waste. 

The Dry Rain Harvesting Method

This method is very similar to using a barrel, but instead, you will need a much larger container. To do this, you will need to run piping or gutters off of the roof of your outbuildings  to a large container, upwards of 100 gallons.

This system lets you store a lot more water, and collect it from multiple buildings if you have them. Further, it is easy to set up and maintain. It is not a pricey system either, making it a good all around system. 

The only real disadvantage is that you will need to have the large container near each building it is collecting water from, so you will have to plan ahead for that. 

The Wet Rain Harvesting  Method 

This is by and large the most effective harvesting rainwater methods. However, there are a few disadvantages that need to be discussed as well. 

The benefit of this system is that the container used to collect rainwater can be located away from your house, even in discrete areas. In this method, you will install pipes that collect the water from the gutters and run underground. 

The underground pipes lead to vertical pipes that come out of the ground and funnel into the container. This way, as more water enters the system it naturally rises up the pipe and fills the container. 

This allows you to collect water from the entirety of your roof, and not just from one specific spot. Plus, you can make the system as complex as you want, meaning you can collect from multiple gutters on multiple buildings.

Naturally, this system is more expensive and complex than the others, which is the primary drawback. Further, it requires installing underground piping which can be hard work. Once it is installed, however, you should be good to go for quite some time. 

This is the system that we use, and we run the water to the ponds.  Of course, the water is not usable for drinking, cooking, or bathing as is, but we have 1000s of gallons of water that we can treat to make it usable.

Another great way to ensure that you have enough water that your family will also enjoy is to get a swimming pool.

My kids think I bought it just for fun, but it's over 10,000 gallons of fairly clean water that I just have to treat to make it drinkable.

Now you know how to collect rain water at home.  Do you use harvested water?

Like this post?  Pin it!

No comments:

Post a Comment