To ensure rainwater collected in your tank remains clean and fresh, it is important to properly maintain your tank. Part of this maintenance involves cleaning out the sludge that builds up at the bottom from the accumulation of sediment and organic matter.
What is sludge?
Even with strainers, plant material, waste and sediment will still find their way to the bottom of your tank. Over time this turns into a layer of sludge which can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and dangerous to your family’s health. They can cause vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and other serious health issues.
Monitoring sludge build-up
The Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) have published ‘Guidance on use of rainwater tanks‘ on the Australian Department of Health website. The guide states:
“In addition to six-monthly inspections, tanks should be inspected every 2-3 years for the presence of accumulated sediments. If the bottom of the tank is covered with sediment the tank should be cleaned.”
(Chapter 6. Monitoring and Maintenance)
Manually cleaning out sludge
One way to clean out sludge is to empty the tank, then hose and sweep out the bottom. This method ensures that all the sludge is cleaned out, however you need to empty all your water and climbing into a tank can be dangerous. Sadly, not all water tanks can be easily accessed inside.
An alternative method is to purchase a rainwater tank cleaning pump to vacuum it all out. This can be expensive if you just need to do it once every 2-3 years, can still be a tricky task and requires a bit of your time to do properly. Usually you would just hire a water tank cleaning company to do the job.
The most ideal solution, would be a system that automatically cleans out any sediments as they arrive. And once installed it requires no further work on your part. It will automatically work to pump out silt and dirt and runs without any power!