FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY WOULD I WANT A RAIN BARREL?
- Using a Rain Barrel, you can easily collect (or as many people say, "harvest") rainwater that is flowing through a downspout. Harvested rainwater can provide many benefits to you, your community, and your environment.
- Rainwater is great for gardens, houseplants, auto cleaning, window washing, and many other household chores.
- It provides a source of water during droughts and periods of water restrictions.
- It saves you money by lowering your water bill.
- It can lower the volume of water flowing to the sewer treatment facility — this conserves energy.
- It reduces stress on municipal storm drain and sewer systems.
ARE THERE ACTIVITIES THAT SHOULD NOT USE RAINWATER?
Rainwater is not suitable for human or animal consumption.
HOW MUCH WATER WILL BE COLLECTED FROM MY ROOF?
The rule of thumb is that a 1000 square foot roof can provide approximately 600 gallons of water during a 1" rainfall, 300 gallons in a 1/2" rainfall, or 150 gallons in a 1/4" rainfall.It's common for about 1/8" inch of rain to fall each hour during a moderate rainstorm. That means that a 500 square foot roof can fill a properly installed 50-gallon rain barrel in about one hour.
HOW DOES THE RAIN BARREL CAPTURE WATER FROM MY DOWNSPOUT?
The Flexifit diverter, is included with every rain barrel, this diverter installs quickly and easily by drilling a 2 1/8" hole in your downspout — we've even included a hole saw that works with any standard drill. Then, the flexible diverter is inserted into this hole, form fitting to the inside of the downspout and collecting the flowing rainwater. The Flexifit diverter even has an automatic overflow function; when the barrel is full, extra rainwater flows through your downspout, preventing the barrel from flooding.
WHAT IF MY HOUSE HAS ROUND DOWNSPOUTS?
Right now, the Flexifit diverter that comes with the rain barrel only works with 3"x4" and 2"x3" rectangular downspouts.
IS THE RAIN BARREL RECYCLABLE?
Yes, the barrel is made of recyclable high density polyethylene, and use to contain soda syrup.
WHAT TOOLS ARE NEEDED TO INSTALL THE RAIN BARREL?
The MMSD Rain Barrel installs in less than one hour with common household tools: a pencil, level, measuring tape, drill, Phillips screwdriver, safety gloves, and safety glasses. The hole saw — the tool that attaches to your drill to make the hole in your downspout — is included.
DO RAIN BARRELS COME IN OTHER COLORS?
Most MMSD rain barrels are blue or white. Other colors may be available, but are not guaranteed.
WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY RAIN BARREL?
It's important to place your Rain Barrel on level, solid ground so that it remains stable — a full 50 gallon weighs about 500 pounds. You can use pavers if the ground under the barrel is not level or tends to become soggy after a rain. The included fill hose will allow you to position the Rain Barrel within about three feet of a downspout. It's best to select the downspout that is closest to the location where you plan to use the water.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO DRILL THE HOLE IN MY DOWNSPOUT?
No, if you take the time to follow the instructions in the User Guide — including correctly measuring and marking the hole — drilling the hole will take less than one minute. Generally there is a corrugation at the center of the downspout that will help to locate and center the hole saw. (The hole saw is included in the rain barrel kit.) Hold the drill firmly, horizontal, and square to the face of the downspout as you drill. Continue to drill until the hole saw cuts completely through the front wall of the downspout, then remove the drill by slowly pulling back. Always wear safety glasses and gloves when drilling.
CAN I PURCHASE JUST THE DIVERTER KIT?
Yes, if you have your own undrilled barrel you can purchase the diverter kit to retrofit it with. The kits can be purchased at MMSD for $29.95. Some retailers have kits, call your local retailer to determine if they have single kits to sell. Returns are not accepted on open kits.
CAN I INSTALL THE DIVERTER IF MY DOWNSPOUTS ARE NOT THE STANDARD 2" x 3" OR 3" x 4"?
Right now, the Flexifit diverter that comes with the rain barrel works only with 3"x4" and 2"x3" rectangular downspouts.
CAN I RETROFIT AN OLD STYLE BARREL WITH THE NEW DIVERTER KIT?
No, MMSD does not promote using old MMSD Barrels with the new diverter kit. The hole placement is not the same and the diverter style barrel needs a closed system” (no hole cut on the top or a side overflow) to protect your foundation from excess water pouring out of the barrel. MMSD will not replace old barrels damaged by trying to retrofit with a diverter, nor will MMSD accept returns of opened diverter kits.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE HEATED GUTTERS?
Consult an electrician before installation. If there are heating cables in your downspouts, there is a risk of electrocution or fire hazard during installation. Also, contact an electrician if you don't know whether or not you have heated gutters.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO LINK MULTIPLE RAIN BARRELS TOGETHER?
Yes, two or more barrels can be linked together for additional water storage.You'll need a drill and a 1.5" hole saw — this is a different size from the hole saw that's provided; it's available at most hardware stores. Please follow the directions in the User Guide included with your rain barrel kit.
CAN I CUT THE FILL HOSE TO MAKE IT SHORTER?
Yes, but cut only at the center of the flat cuff section molded in the hose. A small depression is molded in the hose to help locate the cutting location.
Use and Maintenance
CAN I ATTACH A GARDEN HOSE TO THE RAIN BARREL?
Yes, the threaded spigot allows for garden hose attachment. If a raised base is used, the spigot can be placed at the bottom drain position to access all the water in the barrel and increase water pressure. Water pressure from a rain barrel will not be sufficient for use with sprinklers, but is effective with soaker hoses.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY RAIN BARREL?
You can clean your rain barrel using a mild soap and a pressure washer or garden hose.
DO I NEED TO TAKE ANY STEPS WITH MY RAIN BARREL IN COLDER WEATHER?
When temperatures fall below 40°F (4°C), winterize your Rain Barrel by removing the barrel and Flexifit diverter from your downspout and placing the winterizing cover over the hole. Then, disconnect, drain, and store your barrel.
I HAVE YOUNG KIDS AND/OR PETS. ARE THERE ANY PRECAUTIONARY STEPS THAT I SHOULD TAKE WITH MY RAIN BARREL?
Select a flat and solid surface for your barrel so that it remains stable. You should make certain that children and/or animals do not climb into or onto the rain barrel. In addition, ensure that no people or animals drink water from the barrel.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM HAVING TROUBLE INSERTING THE RUBBER GASKETS (i.e., the spigot, drain seals and hose cuff) IN THE RAIN BARREL?
The water seals are designed to be tight to prevent water from leaking. The seals are flexible and can be pinched into a "U" shape before inserting in the hole. Using a little soapy water on the threaded fitting and cuffs of the fill hose will reduce friction and make insertion easier.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY DOWNSPOUT IS CLOGGED?
First, take off the Flexifit diverter by removing the two screws and slowly extracting the diverter with an upward lifting action. Then, clean the diverter, remove any visible debris, and reinstall the diverter. If your gutters are regularly clogged with leaves or debris, consider putting a filter screen at the top of your downspout or on your gutters.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE RAIN BARREL FILL HOSE BECOMES CLOGGED?
If your hose becomes clogged, remove it from the diverter and the rain barrel. Then, carefully dislodge any debris by using a blunt end rod or stick, such as a broom handle, or by flushing the hose with water. Do not insert sharp or pointed objects as they can tear or damage the hose.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY RAIN BARREL IS OVERFLOWING WITH WATER?
In most cases, overflow occurs when the fill hole at the back of the rain barrel is lower than the diverter. If this occurs, raise the height of the rain barrel — preferably with stable pavers — so that the fill hole is level with the diverter hole in the downspout.
WATER IS NOT FLOWING INTO MY RAIN BARREL - WHAT'S WRONG?
There are three reasons why water may not flow into the barrel:
The barrel is too high, relative to the diverter. The hole on the back of the barrel should be level with the diverter hole in the downspout.
The downspout is clogged — see above.
The fill hose is clogged — see above.