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Beginner’s Guide to Rain Barrels

Posted by Kevin Leahy on August 20, 2018

Rain barrels have become a popular way to conserve water and protect your home from water damage at the same. If you have been seeing them pop up around your community, but not sure what they are about, then this Beginner’s Guide to Rain Barrels is for you:

What Is a Rain Barrel?

Rain barrels are containers, typically a wooden barrel that are used to collect rain water whenever it rains.

Why Use Rain Barrels?

Did you know that the average rooftop collects about 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain. That is a lot of storm water runoff that can overwhelm our municipal systems and cause erosion and flooding. Too much of it can also lead to pollution especially in urban and suburban areas where there are a lot of paved surfaces which prevents the rain water from seeping back into the ground.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, this runoff is as bad as pollutants from factories and sewage plants. The pollution occurs when the rainwater picks up chemicals and sediments and carries them into a storm sewer system or even a local body of water. Simply by capturing some of that runoff in rain barrels, you are stopping the pollution from being carried to your local rivers and streams.

By setting up rain barrels outside your home, you are also conserving the water you use in your home. The water you collect in the rain barrels can be used for watering the lawn, washing the care and other certain chores around the house. With the more frequent drought crises across the country and the world, it will feel good to do your part to conserve water. An added benefit to using rain barrels is that you will also save money on your water bill.

How to Set up Your Rain Barrel

All you need is a plastic or wood container that can hold 30 to 100 gallons. You can purchase a new container or upcycle any large containers you already have at home.

Then install a screen over the top of the barrel and a faucet at the bottom. Before the next storm strategically place the barrel underneath a rain gutter downspout. The screen will catch any debris that might come from the gutters and you can use the faucet to easily use the water you have collected. All the parts you will need can be found at your local hardware store and you can complete this simple DIY project in less than an hour.

What Can I Do with the Water?

The rainwater you collect can be used to water your plants, your composter if you have one, even wash your car and your windows. Just make sure you do not drink it or use it for cooking because it has pollutants in it. Make sure you mark the barrels clearly and put a warning about it not being safe for drinking so that no children or guests to your home think it is safe to drink.

Also keep in mind that if zinc or another chemical has been applied to your roof to help control moss growth or if your roof or gutters are made of copper, you should not use the rainwater to water any fruits or vegetables you are going to eat.

If you have collected more than you can use, then all you need to do is to wait for a day that is sunny and dry and release it onto the ground. The dry conditions mean the water will be absorbed a lot easier than it would have during the storm.

What Is the Upkeep Like?

Luckily once you create your rain barrels, they will last a very long time for you. You won’t have to worry about replacing them every year or even every couple of years. If you experience cold winters, the best way to keep your barrels in tip top shape is to store it inside during the colder weather or at least turn it on its side so it won’t collect water that will freeze up. For back up always come back to this Beginner’s Guide to Rain Barrels.

Other ways to reduce off are to install a green roof or build rain gardens. You could also replace your concrete with permeable pavers.

Preventing Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters and downspouts can be real problematic when you are trying to use rain barrels. Besides dumping a lot of debris into your barrel, they can also stop the runoff from collecting in the barrel and cause water damage to your home or business.

This is why it is so important to remember to clean out your gutters at least twice a year. You can also purchase different gutter guards and leaf-catchers that can help make maintaining your gutter system a lot easier. But be careful when choosing one because, debris can still settle through them and many of these products are not cheap. If you do decide to get one, make sure it can be easily removed for cleaning.

Another product that can make maintaining your gutter system easier is TheSpoutOff. It is especially helpful if you have small rain gutter outlets because TheSpoutoff outlets are designed with a larger opening allowing for water to still run down even if other parts of the gutter are clogged. Another great plus is that these outlets are easy to keep clean through the removable downspout that allows you to check on the outlets without having to climb a ladder. With TheSpoutOff, a fear of heights or balance concerns will no longer keep you from properly taking care of your home and it is a lot cheaper than hiring a professional cleaner to come regularly to clear out all the debris.

The SpoutOff can be retrofitted to your current gutter system or it can be added to a new one, depending upon your needs. The instructions are relatively easy to follow so it is something you can easily install yourself, but any local gutter company can do it for you as well.

The Spoutoff comes with a large outlet and removable downspout clip. Simply make sure that the rain barrel is underneath the downspout.

Also consider getting the SpoutScreen which will keep most debris from moving down the downspout into your rain barrels.

For more information, contact The SpoutOff today. They can make all your household chores a lot easier to handle.

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