Capture fall rains and use them by installing a rain barrel at your home! Using a rain barrel to collect rain water also helps to conserve the water we all use for drinking and can also help reduce stormwater flows. You can collect about 55 gallons of rain water with each barrel.
$60.00 Rebate Available
City water customers can receive a $20 rebate on the purchase of a rain barrel, three maximum or $60. Getting a rebate is easy. Purchase a rain barrel at the store of your choice, install the barrel, and submit your rebate form with a copy of your dated receipt before December 31, 2014. Call 360.753.8271 for more information.
What is a rain barrel?
A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your roof to use for things like watering your garden. Water is diverted from your roof's downspout, where it would normally flow to the ground or a stormwater collection system, into the rain barrel for later use.
Why use a rain barrel?
Rain barrels can:
- Save you money by reducing your water use.
- Help recharge groundwater when the collected water is used on lawns and gardens.
- Reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which can contain sediment, oil, grease, bacteria, and nutrients.
Where can I get a rain barrel?
Rain barrels can be purchased online or at local stores that sell lawn and garden supplies. Typically, stores do not keep rain barrels in stock year-round. We recommend you call ahead before going to the store to purchase a rain barrel. Some stores will sell rain barrels ready for use. Others will sell kits to retrofit the rain barrel for use or sell the barrel only. Shop around for the best deals, rain barrels can range in price from $35 to $100. And for the do-it-yourselfer, a barrel can easily be retrofitted for use as a rain barrel with a few common items.
How do I retrofit a rain barrel?
The tools, parts, and instructions you'll need to retrofit your rain barrel include:
- Electric drill (or a manual hand drill)
- 1-inch paddle drill bit
- 6-inch hole cutter
- 12-inch pipe wrench
- 12-inch crescent wrench
The parts you will need include:
- 3/4-inch brass faucet (several styles available)
- 3/4-inch brass nipple (buy the shortest length available)
- 3/4-inch brass coupling
- Brass washer with 3/4-inch inner diameter
- Two (2) rubber ballcock gaskets
- Teflon tape
- 6-inch round aluminum mini-vent
Instructions for retrofitting:
Before starting, download our printer-friendly drawing of a spigot assembly. To retrofit your barrel, follow these steps:
- Rinse out the barrel thoroughly with a hose.
- Drill a 1-inch hole in the side of the barrel, approximately 6 inches from the bottom.
- Wrap Teflon tape around one end of the 3/4-inch brass nipple (three or four passes). Thread the faucet onto the side of the nipple with the tape.
- Fit one of the ballcock gaskets over the nipple so that the cone faces away from the faucet. Slide the gasket all the way against the faucet. Thread the nipple through the hole in the barrel until the gasket contacts the barrel surface.
- Inside the barrel, fit the other ballcock gasket over the nipple, with the cone facing the barrel surface, until the gasket contacts the barrel surface.
- Place the brass washer on the nipple.
- Thread the coupling over the nipple as far as you can by hand.
- Place the pipe wrench on the coupling inside the barrel. Place the crescent wrench on the hexagonal flange of the faucet. Holding the pipe wrench steady with one hand, turn the faucet with the crescent wrench until it is as tight as you can get it. Once the assembly is tightened you may need to remove the pipe wrench from the coupling and continue to turn the faucet until it is oriented correctly.
- Place the lid on the barrel. Using the 6-inch hole cutter, drill a hole in the center of the lid. Be careful - the barrel may try to move! Place the 6-inch mini-vent in the hole, and you're finished!
Frequently Asked Questions about Rain Barrels
Learn more about installing and maintaining your rain barrel.
- How do I install my rain barrel? To keep your rain barrel level and stable, place it on top of cement blocks. This will make it easier to fit a watering can underneath the faucet and will increase water pressure. Your rain barrel will hold about 55 gallons of water. Keep careful track of the water level to avoid overfilling it. Once the barrel is full, it will overflow if water continues to pour into it. This can cause problems if the barrel sits close to your home. Excessive water around your home's foundation can result in rotting of wood structures and sinking of the foundation. If you purchased a downspout diverter with your barrel, simply close the gate when the barrel is full. If you did not purchase a diverter, install an overflow device on your barrel (such as PVC pipe) that can carry the water to a safe distance from your foundation.
- What is a downspout diverter? A downspout diverter is a device that allows you to either direct water into your rain barrel or to your normal drain system. If you have a downspout diverter, refer to the manufacturer's instructions for information about installation and use.
- How should I maintain my rain barrel? Periodically, check the connections, fittings, and screen to be sure that they are working properly, free of debris, and fit snugly. Make sure to clean your gutters, downspout, and that the mosquito screen at the top of the barrel is free of debris. If you purchased a downspout diverter, close it when the barrel is full. If there is a prolonged period of freezing weather, empty your rain barrel so that the fittings and barrel do not crack.
- Can I paint my rain barrel? Yes. Start with a base coat of high quality acrylic primer. Allow the primer to cure for two to three days, and then paint your rain barrel with 100% acrylic latex paint in the color of your choice. Remember that your rain barrel is flexible and can expand and contract with the temperature, so you may have to repaint it periodically.
- How much rain will it take to fill my rain barrel? Your rain barrel will fill up quickly. A half-inch of rain draining from a 300 square foot section of roof will fill a rain barrel. If you are interested in the math, you can calculate how many gallons of water your rain barrel will receive during a rainfall event using the following equation: G = 0.416 x R x A
G is gallons collected
0.416 is a conversion factor between cubic feet and gallons
R is the amount of rainfall in inches
A is the surface area of roof draining to the rain barrel in square feet
- Should I be concerned about the quality of water draining from my roof? Not in most cases. Water quality is not a concern when using rainwater to irrigate lawns or gardens, as long as the roof, gutters, and rain barrel are properly built, cleaned, and maintained. However, remember that the water you collect in your rain barrel is for irrigation only and should not be used for drinking. You should not use a rain barrel if you use chemical moss killers, pesticides, herbicides, Zinc anti-moss strips on your roof, or if your roof is made with treated cedar shakes. Use of these products can cause toxic chemicals to become concentrated in your rain barrel.
- Can I connect a hose to my rain barrel? Yes. Raise the rain barrel up on several levels of cement blocks. We have found that a rain barrel elevated 1 1/2 feet on blocks will run a two-foot hose at 1 gallon per minute, while a barrel elevated 2 feet will run the same hose at 2 gallons per minute. We also noted that it took a few minutes for water to begin flowing from the end of the hose. While 1 to 2 gallons per minute won't run a sprinkler, it is certainly enough to water plants with a handheld hose. If you choose to raise your rain barrel up on blocks, make sure that it is stable and level, and that the blocks are set on a firm, level surface.
- Why doesn't the water in my rain barrel last longer? Most rain barrels hold about 55 gallons, a small percentage of the water used by an average gardener during our dry irrigation season. However, you will save more significant amounts of water if you use three or more rain barrels.
- Will my rain barrel cause problems with mosquitoes? No. Your rain barrel lid is screened to keep mosquitoes out. If there is standing water at the top of your rain barrel, open the spigot and allow it to drain until there is no standing water at the top. If the screen is clogged, clean it, and check it regularly for obstructions. The West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Not all mosquito species spread the virus; however, a few carrier mosquitoes breed in small pools of standing or stagnant water. For more information about mosquitoes and their connection to West Nile virus, please contact the Thurston County Department of Health, at 360.754.3355, extension 7051.
- How do I connect my rain barrels together? Rain barrels may be connected with plastic (PVC) pipe available in almost any hardware or plumbing supply store. You will also need caulk or silicone sealant, an electric drill and, depending on the diameter of the pipe that you buy, a "paddle bit" or a small hole saw for your drill. Hold the drill parallel to the ground and drill one hole an inch or two below the lid of each barrel. The holes should be the same diameter as the PVC pipe to create a snug fit. Insert the pipe and place a bead of sealant, both on the inside and outside, around the intersection of the pipe and barrel. Make sure to let the sealant cure (or dry) for the amount of time recommended on the package before using your barrels. There are many other methods for connecting your rain barrels. Ask for advice at your local hardware or plumbing supply store.
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