A rain barrel is a vital component of any gutter system, particularly when there’s no drain in the ground to collect water. For added convenience, they also feature a tap to provide easy access to the water for irrigation. Installing a rain barrel is usually a straightforward job that you can easily do yourself. The most suitable places to install them are those where water tends to overflow from the gutters during heavy rain. By installing an additional downspout and rain barrel, you’ll be better able to protect your home during poor weather.
A basic rain barrel provides only a low-pressure water supply, and the pressure decreases as the barrel empties. However, you can improve flow by raising the barrel, and you should do this using breeze blocks or paving slaps. Simply place the barrel on top over the blocks. Note that you can also buy rain barrels that feature built-in pumps, allowing you to connect them to a hose for a high-pressure water supply like that which you get from the mains. Other considerations when choosing a rain barrel include whether you want to go for a closed- or open-lid design and a debris screen to prevent leaves and other detritus from getting into the water.
Installing the Downspout
You don’t always need to use a rain barrel with a downspout, but it will be vastly more effective at collecting water if you do. If you have a downspout already located in the area where you want to install the barrel, it will probably need to be shortened and have an elbow added to guide the water into the barrel. You can use a hacksaw to shorten the downspout before attaching an elbow using a suitable clamp or vinyl cement. Try to minimize the number of connections the system needs, since any seams are also weak spots where leaks are more likely to occur. For this reason, many people are upgrading to a seamless gutter system to reduce maintenance requirements. Finally, be sure to test your new installation by running some water through the gutters.
Rain gutters and downspouts usually need the occasional maintenance. In particular, you’ll need to keep an eye on the water level to make sure they don’t overflow. If there’s any big storm forecast, you’ll want to make sure your rain barrel is completely empty and ready to handle the severe weather.