The system has been in operation about one year now, so I thought I'd give a quick update.
In a nutshell, no problems.
We live in Montana, so an above ground system like this one needs to be drained for the winter.
We did the following last fall:
- Drained the tank through the regular outlet.
- Took the portable pump inside for the winter.
- Opened up the faucet on the first flow water catcher to empty it.
- Took out the plugs at the places where the rain water
plumbing attaches to the gutter (see picture below).
The plug at the bottom of this picture comes out for the winter to keep the system from adding water to the tank during the winter.
When I took the plug out, there was a couple inches of accumulated granules from the shingle roof, but they clean out easily.
Any water that does get into the rain water plumbing in the winter just ends up in the tank and immediately drains out. But, where we are, its too cold to rain most of the winter.
All of this worked fine, and the system did not suffer any freeze damage over the winter.
Once most of the freeze danger was over, I put the plugs back in the drains at the gutter (picture above), closed the drain on the tank, and closed the drain on the first flow catcher most of the way. I don't think you have to worry about having some freezing weather after the tank is reactivated in that the plumbing is empty except during rains, and the tank water has a lot of mass and would not easily freeze up, and would probably not damage the tank even if some freezing occured.
The tank has been catching rain regularly and is nearly at the full level today (May 29, 2012).
When I checked the pump it did not want to start. Something in the pump frozen up enough so that the motor just hums.
I took the pump head off, and cleaned up the rust etc on the impeller and housing, and its back to working OK.
Maybe squirting some WD40 in the pump in the fall would be a good idea.
Anyway, one year down and no problems.
One future project might be to work out enough of a solar enclosure for the tank so that it could be left partially filled through the winter. This would provide some water for emergencies or power outages. I think some glazing on the south side and insulation around the back of the tank would do it. A bit like the solar livestock tanks...
Gary May 29, 2012