How to Clean Your Water Tank

Why does your tank need cleaning?

Even with the best leaf-guards, strainers and filters installed, sediment, plant material and waste can settle at the bottom of your tank. While this sludge might remain an untouched layer at the bottom, during periods of heavy rainfall this can become agitated and change the colour, smell and taste of the water.

According to the Australian Department of Health, not only does your tank need six-monthly inspections, every 2-3 years your tank must be checked thoroughly for any accumulated sediments and then cleaned accordingly.

What is sludge?

Sludge is the name given to the black, oozing sediment that combines all the plant materials, waste and other things that degrade and break down in the bottom of your water tank, providing an excellent breeding place for harmful bacteria that can be seriously dangerous to health.

How to clean your tank?

If you are planning on cleaning your own tank, follow these simple steps:

  1. At the end of summer, when your water level should be at the lowest, fully drain the tank. Direct the water towards thirsty plants in the garden to minimise waste.
  2. Turn any pumps off at the mains. You might need to use the breaker – these are often hardwired in.
  3. Use a high-pressure hose to thoroughly flush inlet hose. This will remove any sludge from that walls of the inlet.
  4. Thoroughly clean leaf guard/strainer.
  5. Replace filter if you use one. Usually, filters last for 12-18 months, so you will likely need to replace the filter more often than you clean the tank.
  6. Sweep/Hose internal areas.

When cleaning the tank by yourself, you need to remember that the water level will be really low and will take some time to return to normal.

It is dangerous to climb down into a tank to clean it; make sure to take every precaution to protect yourself.

Employ a Cleaning Company

To prevent unnecessary waste of water, many tank cleaning companies utilise a vacuum to remove the sludge without compromising either the water level or the water quality.

It is a great way to avoid getting inside your tank to clean it and relying on professionals will protect your water level too. The company will have relevant training and appropriate equipment to complete this task safely.

The process can take a few hours, but you can safely use the water later the same day, it is less wasteful and gives you peace of mind that the tank is professionally, hygienically clean.

Install a Pump

There are some companies that can provide a pump, specifically made to ensure sludge does not build up in the first place. These pumps can be installed after the concrete tank or added to an existing build (speak to the company, for further information.)

Regular maintenance checks should still be made to check the integrity of the walls, to ensure that all inlets and outlet remain clear, and there are no issues with dead animals and/or insects.

Tips for keeping your water in good condition

To protect and maintain the quality of your water, it is important to take steps to look after your tank.

Starting from the origin of the collection process – the guttering.

Ensure that the guttering is kept clear. Dead leaves can introduce tannin staining to the water collected, and eventually, these decaying leaves will travel towards the tank.

Look out for animals and birds traversing your roof space or nesting. Check under solar panels or nearby branches – bird and animal droppings can get into the guttering and then into the water tank.

Regularly check the inlet strainer; be sure to keep it clean, otherwise, you are essentially ‘filtering’ your rainwater through a fine mesh of decomposing leaves, dead insects, plant matter and other waste – not a great solution.

For both the inlet and outlet pipes, check that they are screened appropriately to prevent animals from entering. In their quest for regular water supply, small animals might attempt to get into your tank, and not be able to find their way out. Dead animals will affect your water supply and is unpleasant in all aspects.

Make sure you regularly check the walls of the tank for any tree branches that might be compromising the walls of the tank. It is much easier to repair a small crack than replace the tank – so regular visual inspections can prevent a problem before it becomes too big.

If you need further information about keeping your tank clean, installing any pumps, or recommendations regarding cleaning, please do get in contact with a member of our friendly team.