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How to maintain optimal use of tipping bucket rain gauges

August 3, 2017

Our tipping bucket rain gauges are of the highest quality with robust construction that is built to withstand harsh environments. However routine maintenance and inspection will keep gauges running smoothly for years to come.

Low maintenance needs begin with site selection

The location of the installation, the environment around the gauge, and even the frequency of rainfall are all factors that must be considered when developing a maintenance schedule.

The site selection of the gauge is critical to collecting consistent and reliable data for many years. For the highest accuracy, install the tipping bucket rain gauge in a location as close to the ground as possible — and away from any high rise objects around the gauge. Additionally, a bird guard can be installed to deter debris from birds and even bats. A site visit for service and calibration check every two to three months is ideal.

Tools to ease your rain gauge maintenance

  • the Allen wrench (hex key) supplied with the rain gauge,
    loosens screws to remove the outer enclosure
  • small crescent wrench (adjustable spanner)
  • small Philips head screwdriver
  • spray bottle with denatured alcohol (methylated spirit)
  • lint-free tissue or rag
  • Field Calibration Device (FCD) and instruction manual
  • Multimeter to check the reed switch
  • water container
  • recording pad (digital or manual)

13 pro tips to optimize operations of tipping bucket rain gauges

  1. On the outer enclosure, push the siphon assembly down from the top of the gauge and
    simultaneously pull from underneath.
    Then use isopropyl alcohol to clean the filter.
  2. Use a 10 mm wrench to undo the siphon nut from the siphon body and
    remove siphon stem from siphon body.
    Then clean siphon body with isopropyl alcohol.
  3. Remove the stem cap and spray with isopropyl alcohol.
    Then spray the stem hole and blow on it to remove stuck particles.
  4. Once cleaned reassemble the siphon stem and body and tighten the nut gently.
  5. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the siphon enclosure funnel.
  6. Reassemble the filter and siphon enclosure,
    then push filter and siphon into the enclosure from inside the outer enclosure.
    For the next steps if you do not want to record the tips generated from testing the reed switch, undo the wires to your data logger.
  7. Test the reed switches using a multimeter set to buzzer.
  8. Reassemble the enclosure to base & tighten the screws loosely.
  9. Unscrew the nozzle of the Field Calibration Device (FCD) and
    fill with water to the top lip, then screw the nozzle back on.
  10. Before you begin the calibration, pour 15 ml of water in the funnel to wet the siphon and eliminate the loss.
    Using the FCD 3-legged adaptor, place the FCD above the funnel and turn the valve on to start the calibration.
  11. Using the FCD 3-legged adaptor, place the FCD above the funnel and turn the valve on to start the calibration.
    After opening the valve, 653 ml of water will start flowing through the rain gauge.
    You can use pen and paper to record the number of tips.
  12. Check the FCD chart for the proper number of tips.
  13. Once done, remove the enclosure and reassemble the reed switch wire (if it was removed).
    Then reassemble the outer enclosure and use the Allen wrench (hex key) to tighten the screws.