Rain barrels are a wonderful way to collect the natural runoff waters from your roof for watering gardens. During the months of maximum irrigation in the summer, they can actually save up to 1,300 liters of water, which reduces your water bill and give your plants a healthy, natural drink.
Although generally considered low maintenance, there are some things that everyone should know about taking care of your rain barrel, which when followed, will keep you collecting rainwater for a lifetime.
How to Use a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels receive their water ration through a drop of water that is poured directly into them. Typically, water flows through its channels, into its water drop and then drains, either into the lawn or into the rainwater catcher of the nearest city. A rain barrel accumulates that run off the ceiling in barrels, most often of the 55-gallon variety, but there are many sizes to suit anyone’s needs.
Saving water is a significant advantage of using barrel rain, but having pure, clean and natural water for your garden is an even greater benefit.
Kits are available that link two barrels of rain together, ensuring that there is plenty of natural water available for those hot summer days.
Before using the rain barrel for the first time, give it a good cleaning with a non-toxic substance like vinegar. Rinse the barrel thoroughly so that none of the traces are cleaner.
Rain barrels come with screen covers to trap debris flowing through the down tube and keep away mosquito larvae. This screen should be cleaned regularly as roof debris builds up.
Ideally, you should completely empty your barrel of rain once a month and rinse it. If any seaweed is present, and a lid filled with chlorine bleach to slow down that growth. This small amount of chlorine will not be harmful to your plants.
When linking two barrels together, remember that gravity flow will transfer water from a barrel filled with an empty barrel. To this end, the feeder cylinder must be placed up in blocks or bricks to be slightly higher, and allow pressure to drain water from the feed barrel to the manifold cylinder.
Storage for winter
When the gardening season is over, it’s time to save your barrel of rain for the winter. Empty your rain barrel, remove all hoses and fittings and let them drain out. Wash and store the filter screen with your barrel.
Put your downpipe back into its normal configuration to drain back into your lawn or pavement until the following spring.
Store your rain barrel upside down so there is no chance of water accumulation that can freeze and break the barrel.
The performance of your rain barrel depends directly on your gutters and downspouts. Keep it clean throughout the year to allow proper flow of water in your barrel.
Any leakage around the pipe itself can usually be met by just tightening the clamp fastening. Replace broken or cracked hoses.
Clear a connected barrel outlet when disconnecting the hose and using some type of metal skewer; try inserting a wooden rod or even a selection of ice to remove any obstruction caused by debris. The question may come to your mind How to keep mosquitoes out of rain barrels
If the barrel springs from a leak, use putty in aquariums (found at any hardware store) to patch it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the putty, and drain the barrel thoroughly before attempting a repair.