Rain barrels, also known as water butts, are large containers you can place under your home’s downspout to collect rainwater. Many states have regulations against using rainwater for human consumption (also known as potable) but don’t regulate it for non-potable uses.
Collecting rainwater is a great way to ensure your garden gets plenty of moisture. It also cuts down on your water bill. Make the most of your catchment system by avoiding these common mistakes.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Rain Barrel
1. Lack of Proper Maintenance
Stagnant water in rain barrels leads to the breeding of mosquitos and other pests. It also fosters algae and bacterial growth, which is why you need to check the health of your system on a regular basis.
Inspect for leaks, ensure all connections are secure, and replace worn parts. Also, check for clogs or blockages in the downspout or barrel’s outlet.
2. Incorrect Placement
Incorrect placement of your rain barrel minimizes the amount of water you’re collecting. Your rain barrel should go on a level surface beneath one of your gutter system’s downspouts.
If you plan to irrigate your lawn or garden with the water from your rain barrel, choose the downspout closest to the garden. Because rain barrels don’t have much water pressure, the water may not be able to travel very far.
3. Not Using a Diverter
Not using a diverter leads to a higher concentration of contaminants and solids in the stored water, which can clog up the system. A first flush diverter or a roof washer diverts the first flow of rainwater, which carries most of the dirt and debris from the roof.
To install a diverter, cut a downspout section and attach the diverter to it. Ensure the diverter has an inlet for the rainwater and an outlet for the excess water. Connect a hose or pipe to the diverter’s outlet, which will divert the excess water away from the barrel.
Direct the water to a garden, a porous area, or a drainage system. Ensure the water flows away from your house’s foundation to prevent potential damage. Additional pre-filtration methods like mesh filters further remove contaminants before storing the water.
4. Overflow Issues
If your rain barrel overflows toward your home’s foundation, it can ruin it, causing shifting and a leaky basement. Make sure excess water is diverted away from the home.
5. Not Covering the Barrel
Uncovered rain barrels are a breeding ground for mosquitos and algae. Use a lid or piece of mesh to ensure your barrel is always covered.
6. Ignoring Local Regulations
Although collecting rainwater isn’t illegal, some states have regulations on this matter. Research your state’s laws and adhere to them to avoid fines or legal problems.