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Alu-Rex > Eavestroughs and rain water management blog


Choosing the right rain barrel to collect to a rain gutter system can be difficult. With so many options out there, it’s hard to know where to start. There are a number of important factors to consider when determining the one that’s right for you.

Shape of the rain barrel

Rain barrels can be round or square. While both may be good options, remember that the weight of the water is distributed better in round barrels, minimizing the risk of cracks and leaks.


Accessories to manage rain water

It is important to protect the water in the barrel from debris. If your rain gutter downspout goes directly into the barrel, putting netting or micro-mesh on top will protect the water from debris. If you do not have a rain gutter protection, you should get one of these accessories to filter the water before it goes into the barrel; otherwise you may get debris and leaves in your water. If your barrel is connected to your gutter system, you do not need netting but you should make sure there is no debris in your downspouts that could clog the pipe to your barrel. A leaf guard can help with this since it prevents debris from getting into your gutters before the water is diverted to the barrel.


Connectors to the eavestrough system

Rain barrels usually come with all the parts needed for installation, but the connectors that come with many barrels are not very good. Take a look at them before you make your purchase or replace them if they are not up to the task. They are standard plumbing parts, so they are easy to find at hardware stores and online. There are also a number of kits out there if you want to convert a large container into a rain barrel yourself. Make sure you also check the size of your garden hose before choosing your connecters if you want to hook it up to your rain barrel.

Installation to the rain gutter

Rain barrels do not have pumps; they have gravity-fed water delivery systems. That means your barrel should be kept above ground. The barrel will be very heavy when full, so it needs to be on a solid base that can support its weight. To prevent cracks, the base must be larger than the bottom of the barrel.

If you buy a barrel at a retail store, make sure it will fit in your vehicle. Large models may have to be delivered by the store.

Do not expect major savings on your water bill if you live in a place where you have to pay for water. Although some communities subsidize some of the cost of rain barrels, your water bill savings may not completely offset the cost of buying and installing a barrel. However, using a rain barrel can save you money by reducing the risk of water getting into your foundation, which could lead to costly repairs. Plus, collecting water helps the environment, and your plants will benefit because rain water helps stabilize the pH in the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer.

So while rain barrels come with their share of caveats, they can be very useful if installed properly, especially when municipal watering restrictions are in place.

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