experience with rain barrels??

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We are considering installing one or more rain barrels(to collect water from gutter downspouts) and wonder if anyone would share experiences, problems, successes, warnings, and recommended products, etc. The " Gardener's Supply Co.," in Burlington, VT., whose products I've always found well made and durable, advertises a 75 gal. rainbarrel (some type of heavy duty plastic)with 4 ft. hose, safety screen, etc. for $125. plus shipping. We haven't checked local resources yet to see what is available.

Many Thanks!

-- Marilee T. (hotjmmt@ados.com), February 23, 2001


Marilee, That is what I am planning to do when I finish building my house. But, there are some things to consider when you use them. Probably the most important thing is do not use them if you have an asphat roof. The chemicals and grit from the shingles will run off with the water and whatever the water is used for will be contaminated. The other thing is price. 75 dollars seems a bit high for the barrels. You can usually find plastic barrels, some even with screwable lids for 20 dollars or less. They are used commercially to transport bulk foods like mushrooms and such. Look around an see if you can find those instead of paying so much for the "catalog variety". I hope this helps, Ernest www.communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks

-- Ernest in the Ozarks (espresso42@hotmail.com), February 23, 2001.

Marilee,It depends on what you plan on using the water for.For drinking it will require treatment.For washing clothes or watering the garden it should be fine straight out of the barrel.The rain barrel for $175.00 is a rip off for yuppies that can't use thier heads.You can find used food grade barrels darn near any place some of the best are the blue ones that are used to transport apple juice concentrate.The only problem with rain barrles is they must be fitted with a cover that will exclude mosquitos.(i'm sure you know why)One way to take care of the little wigglers is to put a layer cheap cooking oil on top of the water in the barrles you are storing water in.The oil prevents them from being able to breath.The only other problem that you will have is not having enough barrels to store all the water.one spring or summer storm will produce HUGE volumes of water.It is a real eye opener how much water you have been literaly letting go down the drain.Good luck

-- greg (gsmith@tricountyi.net), February 23, 2001.

I saw one here in N. Al that was made of a wading pool mounted on the asphalt roof with a hose running to the barrel. Appeared to be a clean solution to the asphalt roof condition.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), February 23, 2001.

I have always wondered if there are any problems with water off asphalt shingles for watering the garden, which is what I'd rather use it for anyway, figuring that the birds do that on the garden anyway. Does anyone have any contributions to make on whether it is safe for use on food plants? So far I've just been using mine on the flower beds.

One thing I would recommend is putting the water barrels UP HILL from wherever you're going to be using the water (if a garden). It drains out kind of slowly without added pressure. That is okay with me, since the barn is uphill of the other barrels (half barrels) that I drain it down to, but you might want to think about that in siting your collection barrels. I've often thought about using horse troughs to collect, since they hold more like 155 gallons, but the feature of the built in screen to exclude debris on the Gardeners Supply barrels is sure nice. You COULD put an old screen door over a horse trough to achieve the same however, and keep out squirrels who also like to drown in them (BIG YUCK!!). Or an old bathtub -- people give those away, and you could use a siphon hose to water with, low tech, but also low cost.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), February 23, 2001.

I have a shingled roof and have always used a very large plastic barrel to catch the run-off and used it on my garden.. I saw a nifty idea in some mag. maybe Countryside about how to apply spouts to it..there was one high and one low..now if I could just remember how and what to use to do it. Any help out there?

-- Lynn(MO) (mscratch1@semo.net), February 23, 2001.

We bought a 250 gallon plastic water tank at our farm and country store for $200. It was white so we painted it green to filter out the sunlight. It is in our greenhouse and is on a 4x4 and 2x4 rack where it is about five feet off of the floor. Our greenhouse is attached to our stable so we put a gutter on the metal stable roof to collect the water. It also has a screen to keep debris from entering the barrel. We have a switchvalve to either fill the barrel or it can just go out through a hose that we have connected to the line to let it run harmlessly out into the garden. Once the barrel is full we switch it to run off into the garden. We use this to water all of our greenhouse plants. Since it is enclosed there is no problem with mosquitoes getting into it. This has worked so well that we have decided to put up another one on the other side of the stable to collect water for the garden. We looked around for quite awhile for something cheaper and there wasn't anything that would hold that kind of capacity in an enclosed tank. This has allowed us to not have to drill a well or run pipe from the house to supply water to the greenhouse. We are planning to install a solar panel or two for electricity to run heaters in the greenhouse this winter so we will be able to have it all year long. Since our winters here in Virginia are freeze and thaw all throughout I don't think collecting water will be a problem. Goodluck with yours. We are very happy with our greenhouse. We saved money on building the greenhouse so we decided the tradeoff to get a good watering system was worth it.

-- Colleen (pyramidgreatdanes@erols.com), February 23, 2001.

I have three rainbarrels at the corner of the house. We are in a drought here in florida so it has been of little use here. Funny thing happened after a spring rain that did fill the barrels. Next morning the water was covered with tiny tadpoles. So we raised very much needed frogs. That was a blessing I had not counted on! Ada

-- Aagje Franken (Backyardy2k@aol.com), February 23, 2001.

I have rainbarrels under the downspouts of my animal sheds, that I use to water the critters during the summer. They are old hot pepper barrels, that we got for around $10 each. They have two part lids, so you can use the screw ring and a square of nylon screening to mosquito proof it if you want. (I use the flat pan part for feeding the barn cats.) I got a few float valve water pans, plumbed them into the bottom of the barrel, and dropped a few minnows in to keep the mosquitos from breeding. My pig has a slightly different barrel setup, with a nipple valve. I very seldom have to add any water to them. My house roof water I catch and use in the gardens. It doesn't seem to hurt anything.

-- Connie (Connie@lunehaven.com), February 23, 2001.

I use a food grade plastic barrel,, with a water spout 3 inches off the bottom. I use a diverter on the spout,, after 10 mins of rain,, I divert it into the barrel,, keeps most of the crud from the roof out,, and the 3 inches gives it settleing space.

-- Stan (sopal@net-port.com), February 24, 2001.

Last week I bought a 550 gallon (NON-potable) plastic water tank, ($289.) to supplement the 550 tank I already have. We use them for a drip irrigation system and this year we have had a dry winter so it water is going to be scarce for the garden this summer. I have used 55 gallon food grade drums for rain water collectors in the past but it does not last very long in the dry months when I really needed it. I also have a 350 gal. pickup tank I have used for watering stock in the past and it doubles as minor fire protection.

-- Hendo (OR) (redgate@echoweb.neth), February 26, 2001.

Is there any way to rig up a sprinkler system? My tank is uphill, but nor sure if there's enough water pressure to force an oscillating sprinkler to work (probably not.) Anyone use a ram pump? Or is that just for pumping uphill? Drip irrigation works for the vegetable garden, but is there anyway to water some pasture?

-- dusterdave (d_enron@hotmail.com), February 26, 2001.

One inch of rain on a roof area only 12' by 12' will give you 90 US gallons. More roof or more rain gives more water. Seems to me like something as small as a barrel would be wasting a lot of water. Even just five gallons a day on a garden or for livestock drinking-water would use up a barrel-full of water fairly quickly in a dry spell. Unless you have more or less constant rainfall then I'd be inclined to go with larger tanks (but then I'm prejudiced by living in the dryest permanently-inhabited continent). This has been covered fairly thoroughly somewhere in the archives, if you can find relevant- looking subject and thread headings.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), February 26, 2001.

How would epoxy lined steel 55 gallon barrels do for rain barrells ? I was thinking of building a platform of dry laid concrete blocks -- 2 layers and plumbing together 4 barrels at a downspout ( plumbing configuration yet to be determined) with hose bibs on each barrel. That would give me a couple hundred gallons for the orchard. I could do the same on the garage for the garden.

Locally, I can get steel barrels for $5 apiece, cleaned out, black plastic( had soap in them) for a bit more, so it seemed a whole lot cheaper than yuppie bait in some catalog. I suppose there is a can of JD green around somewhere if I really *had* to have a green rain barrel . Lay the concrete block holes up and you could stick in some marigolds or whatever to gussy it up, too.

Sara in IN

-- urth (urthmomma@aol.com), February 27, 2001.

We use 55 gallon plastic drums to catch rain in. Nothing fancy, homemade wooden spigget near the bottom, clean gravel and charcoal under nylon window screen in the bottom of barrel. We cut a hole the exact size of our (new) downspouts in the tops.

Most roof systems don't produce as much water as you might think. I have never had an overflow in our barrels (we have 4). I use the water mainly for watering the garden, outdoor shower and washing clothes. I wouldn't use it for drinking without boiling cause you don't know what it flowed through on the roof. I guess it would be good for dishes, but don't know and have never tried it.

Good luck!!!

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), February 28, 2001.

Hi Sue D. How do you make wooden spigots at home?

-- Sandy in MN (jpevans_56353@yahoo.com), March 01, 2001.

Stan, I saw your answer in which you mentioned a diverter for the drainpipe. Could you give us a source from which to purchase one? We are planning a cistern for home water use and need a diverter but can't locate one locally. Do any catalogues carry them? Thanks. Rita

-- Rita Glyn-Jones (Felfoot@Twlakes.net), March 01, 2001.

One easy answer to the roof debris dilemma is to install two downspouts; block off the 'uphill' one at ground level and drill a hole in its plug. Then the first rainfall will wash the roof and gutters and it will run into the first downspout taking all the bird poop, twigs, shingle granules,etc. with it. Only after the first downspout is full will water go into the second downspout - and it will be relatively clean. Put rainbarrel under spout #2. Sandy

-- Sandy in MN (jpevans_56353@yahoo.com), March 01, 2001.

the diverter is easy to make, I use aluminum downspouts so I took a section a lut off everything but the sides, took another section and cut in half, lenghtwise, atache it in the middle so it pivots.. hmm kinda hard to explain by writing. Basiclly,, one direction,, it pours into the barrel,, the other direction,, it flows behind, in front, around, the barrel. If you email,, maybe I can explain it better, Seem then in catalogues, and knew I could make one easy.

-- Stan (sopal@net-port.com), March 02, 2001.

Hi Marilee,,,being the "Queen of always broke",,I utilize whatever I have for necessities or always substitute items that work although not as expensive as the 'specialty' item. When I used to catch water (haven't done it for several years) used very large plastic or galvanized trash cans..Come with tight fitting lids. Can make screens with a little purchase from hardware store..It worked great for us...never used it to drink but for everything else and saved used water for gardens and flowers. If strong winds are a problem,,, a suggestion is that you can get a couple big rocks, wash them off good and put in bottom of trash cans***I loved reading all the interesting ideas and experiences with the rain barrels..

-- Patsy (cozyhollow-gal@care2.com), March 02, 2001.

Just read this post for the first time and decided to give you an idea that our son built for my wife. He took a 55 gal barrel with lid that we got free from a paint company, pulled out the vinyl liner and we had basically a new barrel. He then took 4 mobile home trailer "legs" and welded them on the bottom of the barrel. Added a brass spiket at near the bottom of barrel. My wife spray painted it black and put in a burlap bag full of goat berries (tea bag style)and tied the twine that is holding the "Manure tea bag" to the spiket and she has home grown fertilizer that she dilutes and feeds to the garden plants. She wants him to make another one for her in the kitchen garden next year. At this point it is under the chicken house roof eve, but we haven't put up the gutters to fill it that way. With the metal lid on top we have had not problem with insects. Ron in Eastern WA

-- Ron Fila (Ron@Verizon.com), October 25, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ