|Do-It-Yourself Rain Barrel: $20-$50||Preassembled Rain Barrel: $70-$300|
A properly outfitted rain barrel is considered an effective, low-cost and easy-to-maintain way to conserve water by capturing roof runoff before it enters local storm drains or streams. An inch of rain on a standard 1,200-square-foot (30'x40') residential roof produces more than 700 gallons of runoff, according to the Clean Virginia Waterways . Rain water has no added chemicals and is typically soft and free of dissolved minerals, making it excellent for watering indoor or outdoor plants, washing a car or filling a birdbath or fountain.
Related articles: Cistern, Dry Well, Rain Garden, Rain Harvesting
- It can cost $20-$50 for materials to set up a do-it-yourself rain barrel collection system using standard household tools, a 40-80-gallon barrel or drum (typically plastic, because it doesn't rust), a spigot, screening to keep out debris and mosquitoes, bricks or cinderblocks (to hold the rain barrel higher than ground level), and other off-the-shelf items available in most home improvement or hardware stores. It's a relatively easy DIY project. HGTV has a how-to video , and the Environmental Protection Agency lists one-page DIY instructions for making a rain barrel.
- Expect to pay $70-$300 for a single rain barrel already set up to catch roof runoff from an existing roof downspout. Prices depend on materials, barrel capacity and features such as a diverter to remove debris from the water while routing it from the downspout to the rain barrel. For example, Amazon offers the Emsco Group 2771-1 60-Gallon Deluxe Rain Barrel Rain Water Collection System for $70-$120, while Harvest the Sky charges $250 for the first 55-gallon plastic rain barrel with hose bib and input/overflow device and $150 for each additional rain barrel (prices include installation on level sites in the greater Portland, OR metropolitan area).
What should be included:|
- Installation typically means leveling the barrel on bricks or blocks under a downspout or in an open area. The top should be securely covered/screened to prevent small children, pets or wildlife from falling into the barrel. Many rain barrels can be painted or decorated to blend in with a home's exterior decor. The Martin Soil and Water Conservation District in Minnesota provides an overview of rain barrels.
- Using water from a rain barrel is typically as easy as attaching a garden hose or turning on the spigot to fill a watering can. Water from a rain barrel should never be used as drinking water. If water will be stored in the barrel for more than seven days, treat it with a small piece of Mosquito Dunks or a similar product to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the water.
- Check periodically (especially after a major rainstorm) to see that all the components are in good shape, that the gutters and downspouts aren't leaking or clogged, and that the barrel and top seal aren't leaking. In cold climates the rain barrel system should be winterized by maintaining the barrel at half capacity or leaving the spigot completely open to drain the barrel before the water freezes.
- Rainwater harvesting systems are typically not regulated, but check with local officials to see if plumbing and health codes dictate any standards for rain barrels. HarvestH20.com lists rainwater harvesting statues and regulations by state.
- If not included on a commercially-manufactured rain barrel, a diverter kit to remove debris and other objects from the water as it flows from the downspout to the rain barrel can cost $30-$90.
Shopping for a rain barrel:
- Plastic drums or barrels may be available free or for a nominal cost ($5-$10) from commercial car washes, bottling companies or food businesses that use liquids. Rain barrel diverter manufacturer Rain Reserve offers a free search tool for finding low-cost plastic barrels .
- Some water districts offer small rebates for installing a rain barrel. For example, the James City Service Authority pays $25 per rain barrel for up to four rain barrels.
- Most commercial rain barrels have an overflow valve and hose near the top to divert water when the barrel is full. DoItYourself.com lists tips for choosing a rain barrel .
- Commercial rain barrels are available from home improvement centers like Home Depot or Lowe's ; hardware stores like Ace Hardware ; big box stores like Target ; and from online retailers like Amazon .
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