Monday, October 25, 2010

Winterizing your Rain Barrel

I received my first question last week about winterizing a rain barrel. It was kind of a weird question and became apparent to me quickly that this person had purchased a rain barrel from a competitor when they said that they could not get all the water out of the rain barrel. WICHITA RAIN BARRELS are made to be left in place all year, even in the winter. As long as a short piece of hose is connected to the spigot AND the spigot is left open you will have no problems. I have left mine in place for over 4 years now and have had no problems. 

Last year we performed our first long term winter experiment. We let one of our Wichita Rain Barrels filled all winter. We let it freeze and then every day for a week would go out and break the ice up by hitting the side of the rain barrel with a hammer. We did this for a few reasons, first we wanted to test the integrity of the rain barrel in extreme weather, and second we wanted to make sure that it was frozen solid. The water did freeze solid and the barrel did expand but nothing broke. We do not recommend treating your own barrels this way.

Our recommendation for winterizing all WICHITA RAIN BARRELS is to keep them in place all year. In November when the temperature begins to creep toward freezing, empty the rain barrel and make sure to keep the spigot OPEN for the winter. Attach a short length of hose to the spigot, making sure that the end is pointed into an area of your yard that will not be effected by some extra water. I have ours go to a bush and a tree. We recommend doing this to make sure on any drainage from your roof does not end up in your basement, crawlspace or near any place that it could create damage.


Beta Dad said...


Cool blog. I love the idea of harvesting water. It's ridiculous not to, especially where I live in Southern California.

I have a question. My lot is really narrow. There's only about 5' between my house and the fence on either side, and I need to have enough clearance there for a walkway. I want to use rain barrels, but the traditional round shaped ones are too big. I've seen some that are rectangular and would take up less space, but they're too expensive. So I think I'm going to build some tallish, narrowish containers to catch the water. I want the exterior finish to be redwood to match my deck, but I'm not sure what to make the actual container out of. I thought about marine plywood with a rubber membrane, like for a shower pan.

I don't know. Any ideas?

I'll check back here for a reply, but if you wouldn't mind, it would be great if you could email me with any advice, links to other sites, etc.

My email is

Thanks a bunch, and keep fighting the good fight!

Peter Daniels said...

Thanks for the comment. I am usure how to help. I think making one that is water tight and reliable will be very difficult. When a 55 gallon rain barrel is filled its weight is around 500LB's. With that in mind you will need something that can hold that pressure in BUT you also need something to let it out, the spigot. Since I do not know anything about where you live or the resources around you its hard to say what to do. Living in Kansas, I know of a few places that have large liquid containers for farming purposes and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Not sure where you would put a rain barrel but the work off of gravity SO the higher you have it the more water pressure you will get. I recommend having them about 18 inches off the ground and that gives me enough pressure to feed at least 75 feet of regular hose and 175 feet of soaker hose. so you could place a rain barrel pretty far away from what you want to water and have it work perfectly...and maybe even out of the way....

Good luck and shoot some pics of what you end up doing...I would love to see it.