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Maintaining Your Rain Barrel

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Rain barrel maintenance will keep your rain barrel working hard all summer long.

It rains, and then it rains again. Are you capturing all of this water to use in your garden? A rain barrel can be an asset during a summer of drought. It also seems like the simplest of technologies: a barrel full of water. However, you need to make sure that it stays safe and clean so that you can use it all season long.

Help the Water Flow

Ideally, a rain barrel works by allowing water to flow from your roof, into gutters, and down into a downspout that’s attached to the rain barrel. In reality, sometimes this doesn’t work, especially in the spring and fall when gutters fill with blossoms and leaves. Maintaining your rain barrel also involves maintaining your gutters and downspouts. Clean your gutters regularly, or install a gutter cover to keep your gutter cleaner and prevent leaves and sticks from clogging up the water collection system that leads to your rain barrel.

Reduce Mosquito Populations

If you accomplish one rain barrel maintenance task, it should be one that involves mosquito control. Mosquitoes love ponds, and your rain barrel is a convenient pond where they can breed. Secure a piece of removable mesh over the top of your rain barrel so that you can keep your barrel free of mosquito larvae.

Avoid Overflowing Barrels

If you’re lucky, your spring and summer will involve some larger rain storms. In that case, your rain barrels may get very full. Commercial rain barrels generally have an overflow port. This allows a overflowing rain barrel to gradually leak some of the water from a nozzle rather than rising up and spilling over the sides of the barrel.

When you install your rain barrel, make sure that you place the nozzle in a place that’s facing away from your foundation. You can use that water on a vegetable garden or rain garden adjacent to the barrel. If you have a barrel without an overflow nozzle, make sure that it’s located far enough away from your foundation so that water does not overflow and move toward your home.

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Ice and snow can crack your rain barrel in the winter.

Hold an Annual Cleaning

If you want to make sure that the water in your rain barrel stays relatively clean, you need to keep the inside of the barrel clean as well. Over time, fine debris from your gutters will wash down into your rain barrel. This includes roof debris, needles, and silt. Add a device such as a gutter cover to keep your gutter cleaner, and drain and scrub your rain barrel at the end of the summer every year. Use a long-handled brush to scrub the sides and the bottom of the barrel. While you’re brushing, examine the outside of the barrel to look for cracks as well.

Manage Your Rain Barrel In the Winter

In the winter, you probably receive much more rain and snow than you did during the summer months. Unless your area is relatively rain and snow-free, you should disconnect your rain barrel in the winter months so that it doesn’t fill up with water that freezes and cracks the barrel. Drain remaining water into the garden, then open the spigot so that any additional water will drain out. Add a downspout extension to the spout that used to lead into your rain barrel, and direct this into a garden and away from your home’s foundations. In the spring, as the weather warms and you want to store water for the summer, reattach your rain barrel.

Maintaining your home drainage system is essential to a healthy home. When you’re looking for a gutter cleaner that really works, contact Harry Helmet.  Contact us today and learn more about how Gutter Helmet can keep your drains flowing clean and clear.

Written by Del Thebaud

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