Residential Rainwater-Collection Systems

The author developed an interest in rainwater collection when working in Suriname with the Peace Corps. When he returned home to Texas, he established a company that sets up rainwater-collection systems for potable and non-potable uses.

In a dry-pipe system used for non-potable water, the tank is placed close to the house and the rainwater flows straight down and in through the tank inlet (see illustration on page 2 of the PDF ).

A custom steel tank with a rain head and a tall diverter pipe.

A wet-pipe system allows a number of downspouts to feed into a single underground pipe that runs to a storage tank (see illustration on page 3 of the PDF ).

The tank can be located some distance from the house, as in the installation shown below.

The riser pipe spills first into the diversion chamber before filling the storage tank.

Solid debris such as leaves and twigs are kept out of the system by screening the tops of the gutters.

Rain heads are installed in the downspouts. The sloped screen of the rain head diverts debris into the yard while allowing water to pass through. A second, finer screen underneath prevents mosquitoes and other insects from getting into the tank.

A first-flush diverter keeps dissolved dirt and bird droppings from getting into the tank (see illustration on page 5 of the PDF ). It does this by discarding the first water that flows off the roof in a storm, diverting it to a chamber that slowly drains onto the ground. The diverter kit includes everything except the pipe for the diversion chamber, which is sized by the installer based on roof area.

A small diverter pipe for a single-tank dry-pipe system

A large diverter chamber on a wet-pipe potable system

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