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What to Look for in a Rain Barrel

15 February 2018

Harvesting rainwater, though it is still practiced widely around the world, has fallen off the radar for many urbanites for many years. It’s now making a comeback with people searching for ways to become more environmentally friendly and economical with natural resources.

One of the simplest ways of starting to collect rainwater is through the use of rain barrels. They can be easily purchased in a wide range of sizes from local home improvement stores, online, or even built as a DIY project.

Here’s what you need to know about what to look for in a rain barrel and putting it to use to collect water:

About Rain Barrels: 

Residential rain barrels are typically large containers that have a minimum capacity of roughly 40 to 50 gallons of water. They are drilled and fitted with relatively inexpensive parts and placed to capture water from the roof and downspout. Recycling water collected from rain barrels is an effective way to save money on your water bill and conserve natural resources.

Nearly 40 percent of household water usage goes to watering the lawn and garden during summer months. The EPA estimates that the average household could conserve 1,300 gallons of water during the summer using the simple rain barrel method. In addition, rain barrels can also reduce soil erosion and water runoff problems such as property flooding and sewer backups.

Types of Rain Barrels: 

Basic rain barrel models can usually be purchased in the price range of $50 to $100, though there are certainly more decorative options available for upwards of $300. Here’s some of the most common models available:

Plastic Rain Barrels
Available both in simple and decorative forms, plastic or polyethylene rain barrels are among the most popular on the market. They are lightweight, affordable, and come in a range of shapes and colors. Plastic rain barrels are certainly one of the cheaper options available, but they are also made of a material that is susceptible to the weathering effects of the sun and elements. Making sure the rain barrel has UV protection and is thick enough not to crack can reduce some of these stresses.

Ceramic, Clay & Stone Rain Barrels
Rain barrels made out of either stone or ceramic clay tend to work well to catch and store smaller amounts of water. They make great decorative additions to flower and vegetable gardens. These can be slightly more expensive and may be difficult to put in place due to the material’s unwieldy nature.

Wooden Rain Barrels
Those looking to make a solid investment would do well to look into the wooden rain barrel. They are heavier and more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but hold up well against the elements and eliminate any chances of B.P.A. contamination. Look for barrels made of hardwoods like oak, beech and hickory.

Galvanized Metal Rain Barrels
Metal rain barrels are a good option for the household that’s looking to implement a larger rainwater storage system. Generally, metal rain barrels are purposed to be more permanent fixtures and they tend to be less aesthetically pleasing than most normal residential settings call for. The trade-off is usually a much larger storage capacity, and you may even be able to connect this storage tank directly to your home’s plumbing.

The DIY Rain Barrel:

For those who love a good DIY project, an effective rain barrel can also be made for just a few dollars. There are plenty of specific instructions online for how to go about constructing a proper rain barrel. Materials needed for such a project typically include a barrel with lid (55-gal. or larger), 4×4 treated lumber, PVC piping, glue, conduit adapters, a spigot and so on.

Shopping Tips & Harvesting Preparation:

Rain barrels are relatively simple devices, but there are some things you should keep in mind during purchase (or construction). For safety purposes, make sure the barrel is both child- and animal-proof—a well-fitted lid should do the trick—and has a valve to handle overflow. Keep in mind the possibility of linking several barrels to expand your rain collection capacity, as an average rainstorm can easily fill a 60-gallon bucket in an hour.

Before placing the rain barrel to catch runoff from the roof and gutter, make sure to check with a reliable gutter company to make sure the materials of your roof and gutter won’t contaminate your freshly caught rain water. Experts like us can help you decide on the best kind of rain collection system for your home. Call today for a free, no-obligation estimate!