Last year, we installed 4,000 gallon cisterns and connected those to the house.  You can read more about that here.  In addition, we set up temporary drain pipes (the ugly black things you’ll spot laying on the ground in some of these photos below).  We quickly learned that we seriously under-calculated our cisterns.  We calculated our water needs, rather than the potential amounts we could collect.  We should have gone 50%, if not twice, as much capacity.  Oh well.  Our cisterns have proven they’ll last about 4-5 weeks.

We recently took the next step to having a fully functional rain collection system.  First, we had our 20-something year old, rotting shingles replaced with Galvalum metal roofing.  A roofer came out and put the roof on, and then we had our gutter system completely re-designed.  Mind you, the aesthetics of this is still growing on me, but seeing as how we had to work with the house we already had, I think it turned out pretty good.

In order to collect as much rain as possible, we added a few extra gutters on areas of the gable where rain might have a tendency to run over the edge instead of downward.  This outside gable is one example, and thus got it's own downspout as well.

In order to collect as much rain as possible, we added a few extra gutters on areas of the gable where rain might have a tendency to run over the edge instead of downward. This outside gable is one example, and thus got it’s own downspout as well.  The downspout then runs along under each of the windows, with just enough of a slope to make it work. 

The next three downspouts are on the inside gable (to prevent water damage to the siding under the inside gable), coming off the front porch, and coming off the upper level roof.  All 4 downspouts meet on the wall, and run along together to the back-up cistern we added.

The next three downspouts are on the inside gable (to prevent water damage to the siding under the inside gable), coming off the front porch, and coming off the upper level roof. All 4 downspouts meet on the wall, and run along together to the back-up cistern we added.

Back of the house, with a downspout off one part of the main roof, another off the gable, and third off the another part of the main roof.  Those three meet up and run together along the back of the house.  You can the brown diagonal line on the siding here, where the old gutter downspout ran.  There is less slope on these new ones, but they still meet code and look better.

Back of the house, with a downspout off one part of the main roof, another off the gable, and third off the another part of the main roof. Those three meet up and run together along the back of the house. You can the brown diagonal line on the siding here, where the old gutter downspout ran. There is less slope on these new ones, but they still meet code and look better.

The back downspouts come around the corner, and run along the side of the house, where they meet up with a final downspout on this far side.

The back downspouts come around the corner, and run along the side of the house, where they meet up with a final downspout on this far side.

Then there's the octopus of downspouts, all connecting into this new, above ground tank (actually, the tank was leftover from a previous water project--it's just new to this project).

Then there’s the octopus of downspouts, all connecting into this new, above ground tank (actually, the tank was leftover from a previous water project–it’s just new to this project).

Another view of the connection.

Another view of the connection.

This is the part that really is not aesthetically pleasing.  To try to prevent the mess of downspouts at the tank, we discussed adding y-type intersections where gutters could join together, but opted against it.  If we were to have a very heavy downpour (you know, the inch an hour type that Colorado is getting right now, and which is common in IL), then the Y would serve as a bottleneck, and potentially cause a backup of water, which would ultimately overflow the gutters.  Not a good idea.  Thus, we had to find a way to connect each gutter downspout separately to the cisterns.  The gutter guys simply cut 8 holes in the top of the tank, inserted the downspouts just enough to keep them in there, and then put a sealant around them.  That being said, the long term plan is to enclose this area, both to hide the ugliness and the tank, and to shield the tank from the sun to prevent algae growth.

Also in the not-to-distant future, this tank will serve two purposes.  First, it adds about 800 gallons of water storage, which I’m sure will come in handy.  Secondly, S is studying a primitive filter system using gravel and sand, which we will be setting up in this tank.  Therefore, all water going in to this tank will be filtered before entering the main, underground tanks.

Up close and personal, I admit, it’s a bit awkward and odd looking.  From a distance though, it really isn’t too bad.  They did a good job of matching up the gutter color to the house color.  I believe once we get the place landscaped and the side shelter built, it will look SOO much better.  I’m looking forward to that!  In the mean time though, we can now collect every drop of water possible to help sustain us throughout the year.

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