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Your Build - Spring 2018

Footings & Foundations Phase 1 Spring 2018 33 Why is RWH growing in popularity? It makes a great deal of fi nancial and environmental sense. In the UK, a third of domestic water is used for non-potable purposes, and therefore, doesn’t need to be taken from the drinkable mains water supply. Increased pressure on the mains supply means water shortages are becoming a more regular occurrence – especially in populous areas of the country with low rainfall. These include London and the south east, where water companies are actively encouraging homeowners to invest in RWH as a way to reduce this pressure. How do I go about choosing a RWH system? Understanding your options is the fi rst step. The market offers three types of RWH systems. These are known as direct, indirect and above-ground. • Direct systems are the most common RWH option. They work by gathering water in an underground storage tank, and pumping it directly to the points of use (e.g. toilets and washing machines). They usually feature a controller that detects when water is needed (e.g. when someone turns a tap on, or when the valves on washing machines and toilets are opened). This triggers the pump to supply water directly to the appliance. In some systems, this pump is submerged in the tank, while in others (e.g. GRAF UK’s ECOPlus system) it is built into the controls unit, usually located inside the house or garage. This ensures the technology is kept dry and protected from the elements. • Indirect systems work by collecting water in an underground storage tank, pumping it to a header tank (which would typically be in your home’s loft or roof space), and then gravity-feeding it to the points of use. This means indirect systems have much simpler (if any) controls than direct systems. In the event of a power failure, indirect systems will automatically switch to mains water when water levels fall below a certain point in the tank. • Above-ground, gravity-fed tanks are the most straightforward and energy-effi cient RWH option for small-scale needs. Above-ground systems can range from simple water butts (ideal for occasional garden watering), to larger tanks (where more water is needed for wider domestic uses). However, the latter are not suitable for all homes, as they require signifi cant roof space. Even where this space is available, substantial structural support is often needed to bear the weight of the water safely – which can incur extra costs. For these reasons, provided you have the garden space, we always recommend using underground tanks where possible. The simplest RWH systems, such as water butts, can often be purchased from your local DIY store and fi tted by you. For more heavy-duty systems, professional plumbing and excavation work is usually required, so it’s important to enlist an expert with the right skills. Our customers often come directly to us to select their chosen RWH system, which can then be purchased via one of our builders’ merchant distributors. We can then help you fi nd someone to fi t it (as we work closely with a number of trusted installers nationwide), as well as remaining on hand to offer product support and technical advice to both you and the installer, if needed. Alternatively, many customers do it the other way around: fi nd a local RWH installer they want to work with, and then seek their advice on the best product for their home. Either way, all reputable RWH manufacturers should work closely with installers and their customers to ensure the system is fi t-forpurpose. Factors such as the type of property you have, how many people live there, what you want to use the rainwater for, and where your utilities are located, (if you’re planning to use the water indoors) will all infl uence the sizing and siting of your tank – and your installer and manufacturer will work with you to get it right. www.grafuk.co.uk  An indirect system  An above-ground, gravity-fed tank


Your Build - Spring 2018
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