to use and maintain! In this blog, we will cover some of the dos and don’ts of rainwater collection practices. With just a few tips and tricks, you will be on your way to gathering rainwater to feed your plants while keeping pesky bugs away!
Rain barrels are usually in operation during spring, summer and the early fall months where it the weather has not dropped to freezing temperatures yet. Depending on your location, rain collection season may vary due to the current climate. Once freezing temperatures are on your horizon, it will be time to prep your rain barrel for the off season. Taking simple and easy precautions will help you shelter your rain barrel against damaging elements and reduce the risk of cracking or splitting.
In-Season Rain Collection Tips
- Remove Debris - Make sure to clean your gutters at least once a year to minimize build-up on the rain barrel debris screen. You will need to routinely clean the debris screen and remove any matter that may cause clogging in the rain barrel.
- Elevate on Level Base - To improve water flow, elevate your rain barrel from the ground. A full rain barrel can weigh around 500 lbs, so it is important to install it on a strong level base or platform.
- Don’t Drink the Water - No, the collected rainwater is not suitable for drinking! You never know what substances may be on your roof or in your gutters. It is not safe to drink any water collected by a rain barrel.
- Defend Against Pests – Drain the water on a regular basis to protect against mosquitoes breeding in your rain barrel. It takes a mosquito about 10 days to breed, so keep that in mind when setting a draining schedule. You could also use pest control products such as mosquito dunks to kill off any larvae. If you happen to treat your roof for pests, unhook your rain barrel from the downspout for at least two weeks. This will ensure that your rain water is not contaminated by the pesticides used on the roof.
- Clean Up Algae - Algae can grow to be a problem in rain barrels that have direct sunlight exposure. To clean algae build-up, empty the barrel and wash with a water and bleach solution (recommended ¾ cups of bleach per gallon of water). Be sure to rinse the barrel well after cleaning with the bleach solution.
- Vacation Reminders - If going on vacation for an extended amount of time, be sure to check that your rain barrel’s overflow ports are working properly and pointed away from the foundation to protect against any damage to your home due to excessive rainfall.
Off-Season Rain Barrel Maintenance Tips
- Drain Water – Empty your rain barrel of any remaining water and leave the spigot open.
- Clean Up – Wash out the rain barrel and use a water and bleach solution to kill any lingering algae.
- Store It – If you are able to, it would be best to store the rain barrel inside a garage or shed. This will protect the rain barrel from the cold weather elements and will reduce risk of damage caused by freezing temperatures.
- Divert Downspout – If you use a downspout diverter, you will need to switch the diverter flow valve to the main gutter return away from the barrel. If you do not have a downspout diverter, simply remove the barrel from the downspout all together and reattach the original gutter return.
- Flip Over – Whether your rain barrel is left outside or brought inside, we suggest flipping it upside-down so that it will stay clean when not in use. If leaving it outside, you will need to secure it with ropes or weights (such as patio blocks) to make sure it will not blow away during any strong wind gusts.