Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do with rain barrels?
What are the benefits of a rain barrel?
How do I decide what to order?

Ordering FAQs

How does the rain barrel diverter work?
Downspout & Diverter Details
How many gallons or litres are in a rain barrel?
Do I need to winterize my downspout diverter?
What’s the purpose of the overflow on the side of barrels?
Where can I get replacement parts?
How do we keep mosquitoes from getting in?
What if my rain barrel suffers a leak?

How does setting up a rain tank differ from a rain barrel?

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What do you do with rain barrels?

A rain barrel is any type of container used to catch water flowing from a downspout. Rain barrels reduce the amount of storm water runoff by collecting roof runoff and storing the rainwater for future use.

 

What are the benefits of a rain barrel?

  • Save Money and Water: Using rain water instead of tap water for outdoor use, reduces your water bill.
  • Protect Your Municipality Water Supply: Collecting water in your rain barrel slows it down from rushing into local lakes and rivers. This helps decrease storm runoff and the level of pollution going into local watersheds.
  • Better Gardens: Improve the growth and vitality of your plants by feeding them rain water instead of tap water that has many chemicals including chlorine and fluoride.
  • Reduce Risk of Basement Flooding: Disconnecting downspouts from your sewer drain and connecting them to your rain barrel reduces the risk of basement flooding. If your rain barrel begins to get full there is an overflow hose that carries water away from your house.

 

How do I decide what to order?

The first thing to consider is how you want to handle excess water once the rain barrels are full. They will fill to capacity in as little as 15 minutes depending on the size of the roof and the volume of rainfall.

Most homes have downspouts either running into the ground and storm sewer system, which many municipalities now have by-laws prohibiting, or running out onto lawns and gardens, which municipalities support.

Most rain barrels do not have sufficient overflow capacity to handle the maximum flow of water that can be delivered via a downspout during a heavy rainfall, so if the downspout empties directly into a rain barrel, the barrel overflow outlet can be overwhelmed, allowing water to rise and overflow at the top edge of the barrel. For some properties, this is not a concern because the soil is sloped away from the building so the water does not pool along the building foundation and result in a basement leak. For other properties, especially older properties, it is important to direct the water away from the foundation to prevent basement leaks.                                                                                                                                                                                      Our downspout diverter resolves the overflow issue. All water enters the trap where a diverter hose runs from the trap to the rain barrel. The diverter hose is the exact same diameter as the overflow hose on the barrel, so it can never supply more water to the barrel than the overflow hose can direct away from the barrel. Excess water passes through the diverter and out the lower downspout whether it goes into the ground/storm sewer system or out onto the ground. The diverter and barrel can also be configured to completely fill the barrel and then direct all excess water through the diverter and into the lower downspout so that an overflow hose is not needed on the barrel. When the barrel is full, all excess water passes through the diverter.

The diverter will work with any rain barrel or rain tank and fits 2×3, 3×3 and 3×4 downspouts. It can be attached to six water collection devices to simultaneously feed multiple rain barrels, pools, hot tubs, ponds, gardens, lawns etc. The diverter also permits rain barrels to be positioned far away from downspouts, as longer lengths of overflow hose can be purchased to run between the diverter and barrel. This is particularly helpful where homes are only separated by a narrow sidewalk where a rain barrel would otherwise obstruct the pathway.

We have several rain barrel videos posted online that you may find helpful. Please see https://rainbarrel.ca/instructions/.

 

How does the rain barrel diverter work?

The diverter works much like a trap under your kitchen sink. All the water must enter the trap. If there are diverter hoses connected to the side of the diverter, then water will be directed to the barrel, but if more water is entering the diverter than can be redirected to the barrel, then the excess water continues through the diverter and into the lower downspout.

There are two ways to connect the diverter to the barrel. If the diverter is installed at a level higher than the barrel, then it will continuously direct water to the barrel and once the barrel is full, water will flow out of the rain barrel overflow hose. If the diverter is installed at a level where the diverter side outlet is at the same height as the rain barrel overflow outlet, then the diverter hose can be attached horizontally, directly to the overflow outlet to allow water to enter the barrel and when the barrel is full, water will back up into the diverter hose and diverter body and continue down the lower downspout. In this case, an overflow hose is not required on the rain barrel.

 

Question: Downspout & Diverter Details

I have two downspouts and also a sump from which I would like to be collecting water. Would two rain barrels suffice and possibly a third for the sump? And should I be looking at also purchasing the downspout diverter for all barrels, as I’m not clear on how these diverters function?

Answer: 

Every rain barrel installation can have unique circumstances that may influence product choices made. You may want to begin by viewing our assembly, installation and maintenance videos posted at https://rainbarrel.ca/instructions/.The size of your roof and the number of downspouts play a role in the number of barrels installed. A rain barrel can fill up in 15 minutes or less depending on the volume and duration of a rainfall event.

You will need to cut your downspout to direct water into the rain barrel. What happens when the barrel is full? Most barrels have a 1.5 inch diameter overflow hose but are fed by a 2×3 inch downspout. During a heavy rainfall event, water enters a barrel faster than the overflow can direct excess water away, so the barrel overflows at the top which may not be good for a building foundation. A diverter regulates the volume of water entering a barrel and never exceeds the overflow hose capacity. A diverter can be installed in a way to feed water into the barrel overflow outlet so that when the barrel fills to capacity, excess water backs up into the diverter and continues down the lower downspout in which case the overflow hose is not used on the barrel.

 

How does setting up a rain tank differ from a rain barrel?

For a rain tank, the process is identical to that of a rain barrel. Tanks typically have a 6 inch diameter or larger top opening, but operate just like a rain barrel which has precisely a 6 inch opening. Our $5 filter baskets won’t fit securely or at all into the top opening, but you could tie a piece of window screen over the opening if you are seeking a filtering solution. If the tank is shipped with a top cap, it can be drilled with a six inch hole to accept the filter basket

Our used food grade tanks typically include a cap on the bottom valve. That cap can be drilled with a 7/8 inch hole saw so that our spigot assembly can be installed into the drilled cap. Our spigot assembly is comprised of two pieces including a male to male connector and a shut-off valve. Once the spigot is installed in the cap, the shut off valve can be removed, leaving the male to male adaptor in the cap. The clear dispensing hose can then be attached directly to the male to male adaptor and the shut-off valve can be attached to the other end of the dispensing hose.

 

How many gallons or liters are in a rain barrel?

Most barrels are marked 220 L, but they hold more because there is space at the top that is not included in the volume calculation. Most people understand standard industry sizes of 220 L and 55 US Gallon, so that is what we use, but they are minimum volumes. The tanks are marked 275 US Gallon and again there is head space at the top, so 1100 L capacity is possible.

 

Do I need to winterize my downspout diverter?

To be 100% safe, you should remove the diverter. If it remains in place and cracks during the first year of use, we will replace the diverter and ship it to the nearest sale location for you to collect.

The diverter is designed to stay outside throughout the winter even when it freezes. It operates similar to an ice-cube tray. If it is warm enough to rain or melt, it will also melt inside the diverter and run out the lower downspout. In order to further ensure the diverter lasts through winter, remove it from sunny locations to avoid frequent  freeze-thaw cycles .

The next version to be released in 2020, eliminates the threaded side openings and replaces them with smooth openings surrounded by  exterior tabs that secure the caps and outlets to the sides of the diverter.

 

What’s the purpose of the overflow on the side of barrels?

In an average rain, the barrel will fill very quickly. The overflow hose is connected to the barrel to assist in draining the excess water away from the foundation of your property. You can also use the overflow to attach one barrel to flow into a second barrel.

 

Where can I get replacement parts?

All open and most past sales have extra parts available. If ordering is closed and items appear sold out, contact the organizer listed on the webpage to inquire about parts. If none are available, use our CONTACT FORM to request assistance.

 

How do we keep mosquitoes from getting in?

Our barrels are either one style of closed systems with no opportunity for entrance or another style where the opening is covered with a screen. See our products at https://rainbarrel.ca/shop and let us know if you have any additional questions.

For added security, consider adding a small amount of vegetable oil to the barrel to create a coating on top of the water that prevents mosquitoes from laying their eggs in it.

Some people like to keep goldfish in the barrel to eat any mosquitoes that might find a way in.

 

What if my rain barrel suffers a leak?

Leaks occur from time to time, but they are almost always repairable. Click HERE for more information on managing and repairing barrel leaks.

 

Ordering FAQs

Interac question:

I just e-transferred $60 for a rain barrel this morning via my bank, TD Canada Trust. For some reason, it did not prompt me for any question/answer. Please let me know if there is any difficulty for my order.

Answer:

We are set up for Interac Auto-Deposit. 

Some banks do not yet support Auto-Deposit and their clients need to enter a Security Question and Answer.