Using Rain Barrels to Collect Rain Water

DFW has been deluged with rain lately and the appearance of May hasn’t brought an end to April’s showers. Don’t let the excess water go to waste- put your rain to good use by installing a rain barrel.

Besides helping the environment, an obvious reason for harvesting rainwater is to save money. Depending on the size of your house and the amount of rainfall in your area, you can collect a substantial amount of rainwater with a simple system. This extra water can have a significant impact on your water bill. The use of rainwater combined with the domestic use of gray water can further increase your savings.

Rainwater stored in rain barrels has many uses.

Some people find it mostly useful for watering their landscapes and gardens. Others find uses within the house as well. Rainwater can also be used for drinking but requires special treatment with a filtration system. Note that many cities require the filtration system for drinking water to be certified and the water to be tested on a regular basis. You do not need a filtration system for landscape uses. You can use it directly from your rain barrel on your garden.

If you’re harvesting rainwater with rain barrels to use for watering your landscaping, the rainwater can help to improve the health of your gardens, lawns, and trees. Rain is a naturally soft water and devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals. For this reason, plants respond very well to rainwater. After all, it’s what plants in the wild thrive on!

Preparing Your Rain Barrel Site Location

The rain barrel will need to be located near a down spout from your rain gutter, if you want to get water from a downspout. If you don’t have downspouts, you can often still use a rain barrel. You just have to find one of those troughs where two parts of the roof come together and water pours out whenever it rains. Place the rain barrel under one of those spots, and you’ll get plenty of water. Generally, downspouts are attached to the house by straps and will need to be disassembled. Remove the screws holding the straps to the downspout and any screws that may have been put in to attach the spout to the gutter. Once the brackets have been released the downspout can be removed and set aside. When removing the screws and detaching the downspout, remember to wear safety glasses if you are using power equipment.

Connecting a Rain Barrel to a Downspout

Now that the downspout is out of the way, we need to find a way to redirect water flow into the top of the rain barrel.

There are several commercial products available for this purpose.

It is important that the concentrated water flow be directed away from the house or into the barrel as too much water in one place near the house could result in foundation damage. Therefore it is unwise to simply let the water fall from gutter into the barrel for any significant distance. For this particular installation the best solution was to use a plastic flex hose available at most home improvement stores. The flex hose can be secured using the existing straps and expanded and directed to the needed position. You can also find these flexible downspout redirectors online.

Completing your Rain Barrel Installation

Your installed rain barrel should be placed on a reasonably stable and secure surface, like the wide concrete blocks in the picture above. A barrel this size will weigh a substantial amount when full of water. Water weighs something like 8 pounds per gallon, so you can see how it adds up quickly!

If you elect to use the lower mounting position for the spigot, be sure there is sufficient clearance for you to attach a hose in order to use the water you collect in the barrel. The installation process is not particularly complicated as you just saw, but it does require some planning.



Click here to learn more about rain barrel styles.

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  1. Keller Water Conservation | Captain Ron's Lawns & Landscaping, Inc. - June 21, 2011

    [...] way to aid in Keller’s water conservation efforts is to collect rain water in barrels and water your plants and other landscaping with the water rain water that is [...]