Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rainy Season Solution

Mike and I were browsing our local Canadian Tire Store clearance sections one Sunday, and lo and behold we found a rain barrel (and a yellow chair I have been looking for all summer). I have been looking for a rain barrel for the last couple years. Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water by collecting rain water from your gutters which can then be used to water plants, flower beds, gardens, etc. Not only are rain barrels a great way to save utility costs but, rain water is free of the minerals and chemicals added to water during processing by the City which plants respond to better. I am still working on my green thumb… maybe the rain water will help?!

What has stopped me from buying a rain barrel in the past, is the cost. You can find rain barrels anywhere, but are they really worth the $100 plus? I have been doing my research and you have a few options for rain barrels:

·         In most communities around the Niagara Region, the City sponsors the sale of rain barrels in which proceeds usually benefit programs at local schools. The sales are usually on specific days, you bring cash and you can buy a rain barrel from just $50. Now what stopped me from buying from this program was the aesthetics. Although these are a better price than most other options for rain barrels, our rain barrel was going to be placed at the front open corner of the house, so in my opinion it still had to positively contribute to the curb appeal of our home. To give you an idea, these are the rain barrels you can purchase with these programs:

 (Picture taken from –

 I worked in a deli for years during highschool and these rain barrels are far too close to the stinky olive barrels we used to have to empty.

·         In the Niagara Region, we have hundreds of great local wineries. Wineries can only use the wine barrels for so long, which they then sell to people for a variety of different reasons. I considered buying a wine barrel to use for as a rain barrel but in the end it turned out to not be the most economical choice.

I found this website that had the best instructions for converting a wine barrel I absolutely love the look of the wine barrel, however as previously mentioned, it turned out to not be the most economical choice. The approximate cost of converting a wine barrel into a rain barrel:

o   Wine barrel - $30

o   Shut off valve and overflow spout - $40 (approx $15 to $20 each)

o   Time and frustration to drill holes and clean rain barrel – priceless

·         Finally, you can basically just make your own rain barrel from any barrel type starting point. My only concern with doing that is you absolutely NEED to make sure you are not creating a feeding ground for mosquitoes. West Nile is a serious disease and you need to make sure that there is no open standing water that can attract mosquitoes

I was not willing to take any chances, so this was not one of the options I was open to.

·         You can also purchase any standard rain barrel system available at most home improvement stores, average cost at regular prices can range anywhere from $120 up to $180 and more.
In the end, because of the great price we found, we purchased the standard rain barrel system from Canadian Tire for just $80. One thing you want to watch out for is where the shutoff valve is located at the bottom of the rain barrel. We noticed there were a few rain barrels with a the valve almost 2 feet up from the bottom of the barrel. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but since there is no pump on a rain barrel, the barrel would almost have to be full all the time for you to be able to use any water out of the valve. You should also be mindful of how you will be using the barrel. You will notice we do not have our barrel sitting on a pedestal to raise the valve off the ground because we attached a peice of hose to the bottom. If you will be using water straight out of the valve, you will need the barrel to sit a couple feet off the ground.

Installing the rain barrel was very easy, we didn’t even argue… that I remember!

Step 1 – Remove the current gutter section where the rain barrel will sit

Step 2 – Create a stable base for the rain barrel to sit on. We used a cement patio stone to make sure the barrel was sitting level.

Step 3 – Put the rain barrel in place so you can measure where the gutter needs to be cut to. Remember that the gutter pieces are inserted into one another once installed, so you need to allow for a couple inches when measuring your cut.

Step 4 – Cut the gutter and reinstall

Step 5 – Test the gutter system to make sure water is not overflowing the top of the barrel when going through the gutter. That is, just make sure the gutter is pointed properly in the top of the barrel.

Then you can just sit back and enjoy.

We love our rain barrel and are glad we have finally added it to the home. Have you ever thought about installing a rain barrel? Do you have any other ideas for items that can be appropriately used as a rain barrel other than the traditional options? Let us know.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! My family used to have our cistern collect rain water, but it was too hard to purify it as we used it for drinking, etc. Because we only have one cistern, we choose to buy potable water all the time. I'm going to share with them this idea though - a great way to save on cost and be socially responsible in our use of clean water.

    Check out this organization committed to saving water and ensuring that all people have access to clean water: A fantastic initiative i think you would appreciate!