How can I make my rainwater collection systems better? Switch to stainless steel!
It’s easy to fall into routines and not question what we do. “This system works, I’ll just keep doing it this way.” However, lately I’ve been challenging myself to break that trend and to improve how I do things and why. Providing safer water to my customers is a top priority.
After a recent TESPA meeting, I met a local rainwater harvesting professional, Terry Raines. He told me about his stainless steel plumbing fittings and his goal to rid rainwater collection systems of as much PVC and brass as possible. That really struck a chord with me. He has an ever growing selection of fittings commonly used in the type of systems I install. I was like a kid in a candy store, and his passion for the pursuit of the non-toxic, healthier alternative was infectious. I was so excited to be able to offer a system that would provide even better quality water.
For the past 15 or so years, my family and I have made it a point to pursue a non-toxic lifestyle. We try our best to avoid products that contain BPA, Phthalates, lead, etc. I want to be able to offer the same choices to my customers, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be able to do that now.
The commonly used materials (read – readily available) for rainwater collection and other plumbing are PVC pipe and fittings, and brass fittings for PEX applications. I didn’t realize there were other options, but Terry opened my eyes to the world of stainless steel fittings and high density polyethylene pipe.
From the tank to the filtration system, I will now be using HD Poly pipe with compression fittings. This will eliminate PVC and the nasty PVC solvent and cement that goes along with it. One of the issues I have with PVC is that I want to use enough glue to make a good seal, but if too much is used, it can form gooey clumps that can dislodge and enter the filtration system and potentially form blockages. Once the pipe nears the filtration system (sediment filter housings and UV lamp), it will transition from Poly pipe to stainless steel flex hose and stainless steel fittings. After the UV lamp, the treated water then enters the household plumbing. This is typically PEX, and I’m happy to know that I can now use stainless steel pex fittings (in addition to poly fittings).
I also noticed that the sediment filter housings (all plastic) that are commonly used in the industry have the California Proposition 65 warning on them. If you’ve gone down this rabbit hole before, you’ll know how hard it is to figure out what material might warrant that warning on a product. My assumption on the filter housings is that they contain either BPA or Phthalates. I had a real problem with this, since these are containers that the water passes through before it enters the household plumbing system. There had to be something that didn’t have these materials, and I found the 20” filter housings by Viqua. They are a Canadian company and the filter housings are made in Italy. They are also the primary manufacturer of UV sterilization systems which I’ve been using.
I’m very excited about this new direction and the ability to offer an even better quality system to my customers!