Repair.IT – Rainwater tank charged line inlet

This repair is not of the usual electronic or mechanic repairs, but actually more of a plumbing repair. On Sunday, we had a guy with a bobcat come in to help level the back yard in preparation for putting down some good soil and a nice lawn. I had marked out the area to be cut back and levelled, but somehow he went outside of that area and broke a charged line in the ground that feeds the rainwater tank. Anyway – I had seen a plumber do the repair once to a similar charged line, so knew that I could get the parts fairly easily from the local Bunnings and it would save me a few hundred dollars from having the plumber fix it up.

Of course, you might say – get the guy with the bobcat to fix it, well – that is another story.

This morning, I went and dug out the area around the break, got out my hacksaw and cut off the broken area. I didn’t want to cut too much off since this means more digging. Anyway, this 15 minute job – took me 30 minutes to get the dirt and clay out from around the pipe, then a few minutes looking for my hacksaw, and found that my wife had borrowed it – anyway, I managed to cut the broken pipe out.

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Broken 100mm stormwater pipe, cut out – ready to come out.

Here it is in the photo above, then I cut out a piece of 100mm pipe which is a little shorter – obviously. I had earlier in the week, bought a couple of Deks Industries PVC to PVC Jenco Connectors – which Bunnings sells for $7.98 each. These are rubber sleeves with hose clamps on them A few minutes scratching my head on how to do this, since the piece of replacement pipe is shorter than the two Jenco connectors joined together, so decided that it would be best to put one Jenco on the pipe first.

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Replacement pipe with Jenco connectors, ready to go.

Then put the other Jenco on the existing pipe, which was easier said than done, since part of it is underwater – fit it together, i.e. slide the Jenco’s around so that it covers each join. Then finally, tighten the hose clamps securely. It shouldn’t be necessarily to tighten the hose clamps too much since the rubber sleeve is a very good fit already, but it will help to keep it secure when the downpipes fill up with rainwater.

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The charged line is intact again.

Job done! I only need to wait for the next heavy rain to confirm that the rainwater tank is filling again, then cover the hole with dirt and clay.

You might be asking, what is a charged line? A charged line is a line which is generally filled with water – how does this work here? The downpipes from the gutters go down to the ground, then they are all joined together – as a sealed system, and then goes to a rising pipe that leads to the inlet of the rainwater tank. What this means is that during a heavy rain, the downpipes and the pipes in the ground will fix up and once it fills up to near the gutters, the water in the riser pipe will empty into the rainwater tank – which when full, will then overflow into the stormwater outlet – which in my case goes out to the street.

Why a heavy rain? Since the pipes all together might have a significant capacity, the rain needs to fill up the pipes before any water goes into the rainwater tank. On the other side, a light rain will just add to the system, and further rain will help to fill up. There is some evaporation at the downpipes on sunny days, but in general – there would be water in the downpipes even weeks after a heavy rain.

Why do we choose to use a charged line? If we are building a new house or structure like my granny flat in this instance – all the downpipes can be connected together, so we have around 60sqm of rainwater collecting surface to use to fill the tanks. For an existing house, adding a rainwater tank means diverting only nearby downpipes to the tank – but generally not all downpipes.

[P.S.] It took me about two hours in total to do this job – which I think is a little longer than the plumber took, fixing the last one that had a break. He tried to use some pipe couplings that are glued together but gave up and used Jenco Connectors – which is how I found out about them.

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