Do’s & Don’ts When Making A Rain Barrel For Rainwater Collection

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Rain barrels are all the rage these days!

Rainwater collection can help save money on your water bill.

Did you know that 623 gallons of water can be harvested from 1 inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof?

In terms of rain barrels, a typical 1/2-inch rainfall will fill a 50- to 55-gallon barrel.

Today I’m going to show you:

  • The biggest DIY rain barrel mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • How to make a rain barrel yourself 
  • How to prevent algae from growing in your rain barrel
  • How to keep mosquitoes from using your rain barrel as a breeding ground
  • How to winterize a rain barrel

Rain Barrel Do’s & Don’ts

Rainwater collection in action using a rain catcher under the drain

DO keep pets and children safe by making sure your rain barrel has a sturdy top.

DON’T cook with or drink water that’s been collected in a rain barrel.

DO make sure all openings on your rain barrel are screened to keep out mosquitoes.

DON’T use old barrels that formerly held something toxic.

DO make sure your rain barrel adapts for overflow (either direct excess rainwater away from the barrel or link multiple barrels together).

This video has a good summary of the 7 biggest rain barrel mistakes that people make: 

Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Harvesting Rain Water

And this next video shows some outside-the-box ideas when using a rain barrel to harvest rain water:

Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Harvesting Rain Water

How To Make A Rain Barrel

Here are some fun and easy ways to make your own rain barrel:

This is a great video that shows how to recycle rain water — rather than letting it become wastewater:

How to Build a Rain Barrel

3 Ways To Fix A Smelly Rain Barrel Water

If the water in your rain barrel gets starts to smell (or turns green), you have 3 good options:

Option #1 is to add goldfish! They keep the water very clean by eating the algae that turns it green. Keep in mind… when using goldfish as a temporary way to remove algae, don’t just dump the goldfish in a stream or river — because they’re invasive. Instead, give them to a child with a fish tank, or return them to the store.

Option #2 is to add barley-straw pellets. They will kill algae — but won’t harm plants.

Option #3 is to pour a small amount of vinegar into the water. It should clear it up relatively quickly.

As a bonus… the goldfish and the vinegar options (separately) will also kill mosquito larvae!

Mosquito-proofing my rain barrels with feeder fish

How To Protect Your Rain Barrel In The Winter

If you get below-freezing temperatures where you live, then your safest option is to drain the rain barrel before the very first freeze of the season occurs. 

Here is a good summary of your options, based on how cold your winters are.

This video shows how to properly winterize a rain barrel:

PlantTalk: How to Winterize Your Rain Barrel

Here’s a good read: Top 10 Winter Uses For Rainwater

More About Rain Barrels

Here are a few more tips to help you make the best rain barrel set-up for your space:

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Do's and don'ts when making rain barrels

18 thoughts on “Do’s & Don’ts When Making A Rain Barrel For Rainwater Collection”

  1. Here’s a don’t for you: Don’t do this in the state of Utah. In Utah, the state owns the water that falls on your land and you aren’t allowed to collect it.

    • Are you for real on this?!?!
      I’ve been out of the Stares for a few years, if this is true, I’m never going back!!

      • They did it federally under Obama but one of the first things President Trump did in office was to reverse that.

        • It’s a long LONG road to go from the government giving us money to buy and install water tanks on our property to outlawing the storage of water for private use. If the UN thinks it’s going to get a say like that here, they had better find a way to relocate 10+ million people to another continent.

    • Not true (at least, not anymore!). Utah allows for the direct capture and storage of rainwater on land owned or leased by the person responsible for the collection. If a person collects or stores precipitation in an underground storage container, only one container with a maximum capacity of no more than 2,500 gallons may be used. For a covered storage container, no more than two containers may be used, and the maximum storage capacity of any one container shall not be greater than 100 gallons. Utah Code Annotated §73-3-1.5

          • Because the water that falls on your property is what eventually fills the water reservoir that feeds your community. They are afraid that if everyone collects water there will be a shortage for the reservoir….I personally think thats a load of BS

          • It is BS. You can’t possibly collect all the water that falls on every inch of land on your property. So they are gonna get the run-off and underground water formations are gonna recharge regardless, besides as you collect and hold water and then release it during dry times that water gets back into the system anyway.

            You also use less well water or city water for gardening, which is another form of conservation, which preserves that well water (city water from wells or reservoir) for future use or use by others.

            So rainwater collection is actually a environmentally friendly thing. Of course you not getting all your water from the city, this costs them in lost customer revenue.

            Fact is; Property Law has always been if you own the land, you own it to the center of the earth and to the heavens above. You own the air space, the water rights on and below your land, and the mineral rights below. This has all changed at some point in the not so distant past, and few people actually own their own water and mineral rights, someone stole them and stripped them from the property and sold the property without the rights.

            Then there is the God damned UN and their evil Environmentalist AGENDA 21 & AGENDA 30 which are both explicitly anti- individual property rights.

            But the idea that the air you breath and the water that falls on your land is not your own, is pure Communist Bullshiite. Keep voting Marxist socialist Democrat and eventually an air breathing tax can’t be too far behind.

          • Considering the level of the water behind the dams on the Colorado River that doesn’t seem to be BS to me.

  2. In the UK Severn and Trent Water Board claim that they own all the water that falls anywhere, including the roof on your house.
    You can take the water out of the ground but an extraction license is required.
    Soo….I went to the local office and said ” you own the water that falls everywhere” yes she said. “What about the water on my roof” “yes that is ours and must not be collected”.
    “Right” says I ” Your water has just destroyed my bedroom. Expect a claim !!!”

    What a set of pillocks !!!

    • They did that here too under Obama; but one of the first things that President Trump did was reverse it so that we can once again collect rainwater off of our roofs, etc. Get your politicians out of office who taking away your basic rights to even survive if need be. In the meantime I would find a stealth way of doing this, but remember that satellite surveillance has gotten very advanced.

      • Penny, this is not true.
        It is a state by state law.
        Obama had nothing to do with it. Neither did Trump.
        In fact, and I repeat FACT, Colorado relaxed the laws on collecting rain water in May of 2016…. this was BEFORE Trump was elected.
        Please stop spreading political lies.

  3. When collecting water into barrel make the pipe go down to within a few inches of the bottom of the barrel. This will keep the water fresh and ‘stirred up’ and a heavy rainfall will clean out the barrel


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