Rain Barrel Maintenance
Once you have a rain barrel, there are things you’ll need to do to keep it in good condition so that you can make use of the water you’ve stored. These simple steps will help you get the most of your system.
First, you should empty your barrel at least once a month. This keeps water from accumulating algae and developing an unpleasant smell. If you want to be able to allow water to sit longer, you can add a cap full of chlorine bleach to the barrel.
This will stop the development of algae and at that small concentration it won’t harm your plants. However, if you use more than that, it could become harmful. You also want to avoid using an acid such as vinegar because it will harm your plants.
When it comes to your gutters, you’ll want to make sure that you clean them regularly or install a gutter screen that prevents debris from getting in. This will cut down on the debris and sediment that gets into your rain barrel.
If you notice that your barrel has developed a leak, you don’t have to throw it out. In many cases you can use aquarium caulk made from silicone to seal up the hole. This is available in hardware stores and is inexpensive.
Another concern for rainwater barrels is the development of mosquito populations. Draining the barrel regularly is one way to prevent this. But you can also add a larvae tablet to your barrel that can prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
Adding this type of tablet won’t harm your plants and will prevent problems such as West Nile virus that can be spread through contact with mosquitoes.
You also need to be careful if you live in an area with very cold winters. Freezing and thawing over and over again can weaken your rain barrel. Before it gets that cold, drain your barrel and disconnect it to prevent problems.
When you’re storing your rain barrel for extended periods of time, it’s best to store them upside down. This keeps them free from debris.
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How Much Can You Collect?
You may think it will take a long time to collect water in your rain barrel. But you can actually collect thousands of gallons a year. You can figure out approximately how much water you’ll collect for every inch of rainfall.
First, you’ll need to estimate the square footage of your roof. Then divide that number in half. The number you end up with is the number of gallons of water you can collect from one inch of rainfall.
The average house can collect over 400 gallons of water with a half inch of rain. As you can imagine, that adds up fast during rainy seasons. This is a great reason to have multiple barrels or larger systems.
Uses for Stored Rainwater
Rainwater isn’t usually used for drinking (although it can be), but it can be used for many other purposes. It may surprise you to see how many different ways you can use stored rainwater.
The most obvious use for rainwater that you collect is watering your lawn and garden. It can be costly to water your yard during dry and hot summer months. Having a rainwater storage system allows you to have access to free water.
It will also allow you to continue watering even if your water service has imposed restrictions due to drought. One of the easiest ways to use your barrel is to connect it to a soaker hose. You can use it to keep your lawn irrigated and you can even use it to protect the foundation of your home.
While this isn’t available everywhere, many cities allow residents to use rainwater to flush toilets. You can even set up a rainwater system where the water is automatically brought into your home for toilet flushing.
This can actually save you quite a bit of money on your water bill, especially if you have a large family or many toilets that are used frequently.
If you own an automobile, you can use rainwater to fill your radiator instead of the tap water you might normally use. In most cases this will need to be mixed with antifreeze.
You can also use rainwater to wash your car instead of hooking up the hose to the city water system. This will save money and conserve the water you would normally use.
When you need to clean your home, you can use rainwater instead of tap water to mop. Simply fill a bucket and bring it inside to clean your floors and other surfaces.
You can use rainwater for washing dishes and even for bathing if you have a filter system to make it better for use inside. It can also be used for laundry. Laundry actually makes up a large percentage of water use in households, so this can save a lot of money.
Having water stored in rain barrels can help you if you have a natural disaster or other emergency that keeps you from being able to use your typical water supply. You’ll want to make sure that you have filtration and purification tools before using it.
For example, you may need to boil the water before drinking or add water purification tablets in order to drink the water.
You can even share the water you’ve collected with neighbors if you have more than you can use. This can serve as a great example and encourage others to install their own rain barrel systems.
You may not think that your small system of rain barrels makes a big difference, but it can make a difference for your household and you can create a ripple effect in your community.
Watch This Video On “How To Make A Rain Barrel”, the link to the supplies list is below the video.
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