Can you install a water tank yourself?May 21, 2018
The quick answer to this question is ‘it depends’. Installing a water tank is a fairly simple process. Basically, you put the tank in position, you fill it with water, and you put ‘harvesting’ equipment in place i.e. the tools and features you need to access your stored water. Of course the variants are the size and type of the tank, your level of technical tank-related skills, and the location of the tank itself.
A tank can be positioned underground or above ground. A surface level tank requires the ground to be completely flattened and compacted. You might need to lay a concrete base to keep the tank level, so you’d require the ability to mix, pour, and cure concrete, making sure it’s absolutely flat. Ideally RCC is preferred (cement concrete reinforced with steel).
If your tank is underground, the surface will still needs to be evened out and reinforced with sand or RCC. However, you’ll also need to excavate a hole. The size of the hole is judged by the size of the tank, plus the tanks needs to have 50 to 60 cm of room on each side before it’s lowered into the tank.
Even a basic 3000 litre tank would need a hole that’s a few metres deep and just as wide, which isn’t exactly the type of job you can do with a shovel and a pickaxe. You’d have to own or hire a bulldozer or excavator, and know how to operate it. Otherwise, you could hire a driver and truck operator to do it for you.
Size of the tank
Once the hole is dug, levelled, and reinforced, the tank has to be lowered into the hole. If it’s a plastic or pre-assembled concrete tank, you need a crane to put it in position. So once again, you need tractor driving skills, or a crane for hire. The tank has to be lowered very carefully to avoid cracking it. Then the hole has to be gradually refilled by the tractor.
In case the tank is concrete and has to be poured into place, the job takes several days and requires construction expertise to mix, cure and set it, so if you’re a builder, you can probably do it yourself. Once the tank is complete, you have to fill it from a water truck, or wait for the rain to do it over time.
Above-ground tanks might need a tap, and maybe a pump system to connect it to the water mains. If it’s a rainwater harvest tank or a storm-water detention tank, you need to organise your roofing gutters and downpipes and install some filtration systems at the tank’s mouth. Piping details for underground tanks are a little more complex, since you require valves and powerful pumps to counteract gravity and pull the water back to the surface.
Any type of pump requires a plumber to link up the inlets, outlets, and electricals. They can also recommend and install pressure valves, temperature gauges, water-level measuring devices, and a control panel that allows you to monitor your tank. This is especially helpful for underground tanks that you can’t easily access.
Point of purchase
Where exactly did you buy the tank from? If it has to be transported over a long distance, it would be ideal if one of the seller’s team members accompanied the tank to your house or premises. This prevents damage in transit and might be a term of the tank warranty.
In such cases, your tank supplier will often offer an installation service, since they’ve already come all this way. Also, they may have a tank maintenance service that you can benefit from, but this is often applicable only if they install the tank themselves. After all, they wouldn’t want to get stuck fixing someone else’s mess and not be allowed to charge for it.
So … can you install a tank yourself?
Yes, you can, if you have construction experience, plumbing expertise, an eye for gutter alignment, a cement mixer, and a tractor with an excavator and a crane extension. If not, you’re better off letting your tank supplier do the installation for you.