Rain barrels connect the benefit of reduced water bills for your home to the reduction of stormwater runoff and water pollution in your community. By collecting and storing rainwater, rain barrels provide homes with clean water for lawn watering. Water that would otherwise go down the nearest storm drain or ditch is now contained in your rain barrel for use at a later time.
Rain barrels have 4 basic parts: the barrel for holding rainwater, a screen filter on top to keep out dirt, debris, and insects, a garden hose connected to the barrel’s shutoff valve or spigot, and an overflow connector with a drain hose that bypasses rain water after your barrel fills.
There are three basic steps to installing a rain barrel.
- Cut holes in the barrel: The rain barrel needs an opening on top large enough to accomodate the rainwater from your downspout, and two small opening on the side: one small opening high on the side of the barrel for your overflow hose and another near the bottom for your primary drain spigot. Cover the top opening with window screen to keep out debris and insects.
- Position barrel and prepare downspout: Make sure your barrel is on level ground. Attaching a hose and getting a watering can under your drain spigot will be easier if your barrel is propped up on a few cinder blocks. To allow water to flow into the rain barrel you must first cut your downspout slightly above the final height of the barrel and position it over the filtered opening on the top.
- Assemble parts: If you chose not to purchase a rain barrel that has already been set up, you will need to purchase and fit the finishing parts in the barrel of your choice. Make sure the filter, overflow hose, and shutoff valve are securely installed on the rain barrel before testing it after the next rainfall!
If you decide to purchase a rain barrel with all parts installed, the cost may be more expensive, but installation may be easier and take less time.
This video from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District shows the installation process.
The Chesapeake Bay Program has also put together a short video on the process of installing a rain barrel. It has guielines on where to put your rain barrel, how to connect it to a downspout, and general rain barrel care.
Looking for some photos of Rain Barrels? You’ll find them in our gallery, HERE!
Looking to purchase a rain barrel? Check out our resources page HERE!