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What are Water Cisterns and How Do They Work?

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

What is a water cistern?

A cistern is a tank specially designed to store water or other substances, this tank can be subway or at ground level. Naturally they are used at residential level to store water, in the industrial area they can be used to store different substances.

Vehicles that transport liquids or substances (tanker truck, tanker plane or tanker ship) are also called tankers.

Among so many amenities that a house can offer, a water tank is of utmost importance, since most of the water problems that may arise in a house are due to lack of water.

What are water cisterns for?

The cisterns help us to pump water or another liquid to our water dispenser tank, since without a cistern we could burn our pump when pumping water from our direct water service. By having a cistern we can raise the water using our pump without inconveniences to our water tank or water dispenser.

Types of water cisterns

Domestic or residential cisterns. The cisterns of domestic or residential use are mainly to store water and then to be able to raise the water by means of a pump towards the tank or tinaco to be able to make use of this water.

Cisterns for industrial use. The cisterns for industrial use have the same mechanism, but in the industrial sector they can be used for different types of substances.


Your plumber should carry out the excavation taking into account the dimensions of the tank and the type of soil expansion. The size of the borehole and the angle of the slope should be indicated in the installation manual "Table of measurements for excavation".

The tank is installed underground or at surface level based on the installation manual provided.

Before making the installation, make a classification of the type of expansion of the ground where the tank is to be installed.

You must make a smooth, firm and level base of concrete reinforced with electrowelded mesh, the thickness of the base recommended minimum of 10 cm.

It is important to plaster the walls in medium and high expansion soil types around the excavation, taking into account the specifications of the installation manual.

Before placing the cistern, let the base and plaster dry and then clean the entire area without leaving residues on the concrete slab.

It is recommended to clean the interior of the cistern at least once a year to keep the water in perfect conditions.

Manufacturing materials

The cisterns are manufactured using the rotomolding process which allows to have a hermetic tank that has no welding and guarantees safe water without filtrations. The cisterns have special anti-bacterial additives that prevent the formation of contaminating agents inside the tank and are highly durable.

There are also concrete cisterns or wells of much larger sizes that are used for the storage of water or other liquids. This type of cisterns are used in industries or in cases of water shortage or in communities where water is supplied at certain hours.

The cisterns must be constructed of resistant materials that can support an immense weight of water. A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds (3.7 kg), and each cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds (28.3 kg). Wind loads will also impact exposed overhead tanks. Some common materials used in tank construction include:

  • Reinforced concrete. Often the best investment, reinforced concrete is durable and can help neutralize the acidity of water.

  • Reinforced concrete blocks. They tend to leak between joints.

  • Metal. However, metal can corrode.

  • Fiberglass. Fiberglass can have strength problems when buried. If they are above ground, they should be placed in shaded locations to reduce the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation.

  • Wood. Wooden tanks are generally not suitable, especially when buried, because they are difficult to keep watertight.

Safety measures

Rotoplas or rotomolded cisterns have their own rotating lid for safety. When having another type of cistern buried or below the surface level, we must make sure that it has a lid or close in turn we can choose to have an automatic pump or action, which will send us water continuously to our dispenser, tank or water tank.


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