Rain barrels: how and why to use them

Rain barrels capture rainwater from downspouts from the roof. Water is used for outdoor purposes on the property. Water can be used to hydrate outdoor plants, lawns, or gardens, but this water cannot be used for drinking or indoor water needs.

What else do i need to install my rain barrel?

Rain barrels are easy to install, you attach them to a gutter. Depending on the structure of your gutter, a flexible gutter extender may be useful and may need to be secured with screws and sealed with putty. Don’t forget to measure your gutter and buy the correct size downspout extension. Most hardware stores have them available. To get the most out of your rain barrel, you can create a raised platform for the barrel, such as cinder blocks or a wooden pallet. The higher your platform, the higher the pressure of the water coming out and the higher the platform, the easier it is to place a watering can under the tap.

Is the water in rain barrels deteriorating?

The water is not bad. In fact, if the water is stored in a cool, dark, dry place away from concrete and harmful chemicals, it can be stored almost indefinitely. However, it can become biologically or chemically contaminated, so it is important to rotate and filter the water before use. Even if you have all the precautions in place: a metal roof free of leaf debris, you clean your gutters with a leaf guard, a leaf diverter and a screen on the entrance going into the rain barrels, debris can still infiltrate it. It is possible that some algae will also start to form, even if your aquarium is cloudy. While some algae won’t harm your water, in too much of it you could start having problems with clogged pipes and even foul-smelling water. It is recommended that you empty and scrub your rain barrels once a year, preferably in late summer before winter rains set in. This will ensure a clean storage of rainwater for many years.

What should I do to maintain my rain barrel?

Once your rain barrel is installed, maintenance is easy. Simply use the water you have collected to water your garden. Because rainwater is acidic, it’s a good idea to balance the pH level of your stored rainwater from time to time so as not to cause corrosion in your system. Commonly used pH test strips for checking swimming pool water can be used to check rain barrel water, then add baking soda until the water is neutral or slightly alkaline. For a 55 gallon rain barrel, you may only need a few tablespoons of baking soda for the pH to balance. Clean your rain barrel regularly, to do this you empty the barrel completely, scrub with dish soap and a long-handled brush and rinse with a solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water . Allow to dry completely before reuse. Remember to check that the rain barrel system is ready to go before a big storm!

What should I do with my rain barrel during the winter?

In South Carolina, it’s not a good idea to leave your barrel in place in the winter, as the water inside can freeze and damage the system. Around the first frosts, it’s time to pack for winter. Adjust your downspout to allow water to flow out of your home. Empty your barrel completely, rinse it, and let it dry. Then store it inside a garage or shed, or turn it over and leave it outside for the winter, covering it with a tarp if you have one. Make sure the faucet is open and all components are clean. In the spring, you can put it back in place and start harvesting rainwater again.

Will my rain barrel make a difference?

It may not seem like much, but every drop counts. Using two rain barrels to water your plants could save up to 1,200 gallons per year, for just one household!

• Rain barrels can be painted to add a decorative element to your garden. Drums that have been stored for a period of time will need to be cleaned before priming.

• You must apply a plastic primer before applying acrylic paint.

It is usually a spray paint. Two of these brands are Krylon Fusion and Rust-Oleum * plastic spray paints. Two cans are required to coat a barrel.

• Before applying acrylic paint, gently buff the primer paint with sandpaper to remove any shine.

• Use acrylic paint to make your drawing, then wait 48 hours before applying a top coat to seal the acrylic paint.

Two sealants that rain barrel artists have used are Krylon Fusion UV Protective Spray or Rust-Oleum Clear Crystal. *

* Mention of a product does not constitute an endorsement by the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District.

Where can I get a Rain Barrel System?

They are available free of charge from the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District, contact Crista at (803) 597-3160.

Crista Lukoski is the District Coordinator for the Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District, she can be reached at 803.597.3160 ​​or [email protected]


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