Tag Archives: gutter screens

How to Ensure Stored Rainwater is Clean

RainBank Rainwater Systems installs gutter screens and Wisy products to ensure water being collected is as clean as possible before storage. 

Collected rainwater should be free of organic matter before entering the storage tank. This can be achieved with a quality gutter screen and the use of pre screening or filtering to remove debris and aerate the water before storage.

Pine needles, leaves, and other debris can cause collected rainwater to become fouled with decaying organic matter. These contaminants can be a host or food for bacteria, causing your collected water to become septic. Accumulated debris generally piles up in turns in the conveyance lines and can fester over time. Water passing through these pile-ups will pick up odor, discoloration, and bacteria, resulting in fouled water entering your storage tanks.

Care must be taken to ensure that water being stored is as clean as possible. The use of gutter screens will reduce the chore of gutter cleaning, but do require a certain amount of maintenance. Periodic cleaning of screens should be conducted as needed. When pine needles or leaves pile up on gutter screens, they need to be removed. This can be done with a garden hose or a brush and is a lot less work than cleaning the gutters themselves.

Quality of stored water can also be improved by the use of Wisy products. Before entering the storage tank, rainwater should be filtered and aerated. Filtration removes particulate matter, which frequently carry and feed bacteria. Removal, along with aeration, greatly reduces the amount of bacteria in the storage tank.

The video below shows how debris falls to the bottom of the filter, while the desired water is sent through a screen horizontally, and then clean water can be conveyed to storage. The vortex filter requires very little maintenance and is as easy as removing the screen and washing.

Rainwater is relatively clean to begin with; it is what it comes in contact with that needs to be addressed. By gutter screening, filtering, and aerating rainwater before storage, you will be assuring that your stored water is of the quality you desire while helping  filtration and disinfection for end use.

Lopez Tanks

RainBank Rainwater Systems is the leader in designing and installing rainwater collection systems in the Seattle area for more than 15 years, and is preferred by homeowners, architects, and engineering firms for its quality solutions to rainwater harvesting. We offer engineered systems for potable and non-potable systems, commercial and residential.

How to Keep Collected Rainwater Clean

Gutter screening, first flush devices, vortex filters – which is best suited for my rainwater collection system?

Cottage without gutter screen
Without gutter screen

If you have been following my last few posts, you can start to understand the need to be sure that your collected rainwater is clean before it goes to storage. Keeping it clean will help keep tannins to a minimum, prevent debris from entering your cistern, and will also mean less demand on your filtration and disinfection systems.

With Gutter Screen
With gutter screen

Gutter screens are the first line of defense to keep your collected rainwater clean before storage. It is well worth the expense to purchase quality gutter screens to start with. Typically, an aluminum frame with stainless steel meshing works the best. They are expensive, but will make maintenance of your system much easier. Stay away from the low density foam insert types, they only clog up with debris and turn septic quickly. Light sheet metal type framing for screens tends to bow in the middle from the weight of the water. So spend some money up front and you won’t need to clean gutters.

A first flush device, or vortex filter is the second defense against debris from entering your rainwater system cisterns.

first flush device
First flush device

A first flush device is a vertical 3” or 4” vertical pipe that has a ball inside that will float to the top of the pipe as the initial water fills. When the ball gets to the top of the pipe, it closes off the vertical pipe and allows the water to move horizontally through a “t” and sends cleaner water to the cistern. The water at the cistern should go through a screen basket before entering the cistern for added protection.

vortex filterThe vortex filter is more of a hands-free device instead of the first flush and for most applications, this designer/installer prefers it. The vortex filter works on a centrifugal theory, where the water enters the top side of the filter from the tight line and is directed into a channeled side which swirls the water horizontally, passing through a screen, then towards storage. Residual water along with the debris falls through the center and towards waste. Only occasional cleaning of the screen is needed for maintenance, making this system as hands off as can be.

Things to consider when choosing a pre-screen system are:

  • Are my gutters hard to get at, are they second story?
  • Do I have a large amount of trees that shed needles and leaves to my roof or gutters?
  • Are my downspout lines connected to tight lines which convey water to the cisterns, or do they gravitate into the top of the cistern?
  • Am I willing and able to care for my first flush devices by maintaining their cleanliness?
  • Do I live in an area that is prone to sub-freezing temperatures?   

 If you have questions, or would like a specific topic covered, let me know in the comments.

How to Build a Simple Rainwater Collection System

How to Build a Simple Rainwater Collection System
Cottage without gutter screen

Over the next few months, RainBank will take you step by step through how to build a rainwater collection system so you can begin harvesting the rain for yourself. (Be sure to subscribe to posts so you don’t miss any!)

All rainwater catchment systems begin at the roof and gutters. Whether you want to irrigate, supplement, or go for potable (drinking water) usage, you need to remove debris before storing rainwater.


Cottage with Gutter Screen
Cottage with Gutter Screen

It does not matter what type of roofing material you have – all leaves, pine and fir needles that land on your roof will end up in your gutters. Keeping your gutters clean is a chore most people do not like to do. A good gutter screen is one solution to this issue; it’s advised that it be made of fine mesh stainless steel screen and a solid extruded frame. Gutter screens may be expensive but are worth spending the money on – if you are serious. Maintenance is far easier than gutter cleaning; plus the screens are relatively easy to install.

Do you want to know some tricks of the trade? Stay tuned and feel free to post questions in the comments area below.