What are they?
Rain barrels are simply a storage tank for temporarily holding stormwater. Stormwater from your roof is diverted into a barrel connected to your downspouts and stored for later use. A house can have more than one rain barrel, and barrels vary in size and features.
How do they work?
Installing a rain barrel prevents runoff by temporarily holding rain. The rainwater can later be used, or emptied onto a permeable surface or a landform to allow it to infiltrate. Rain barrels can be simply a barrel, or can include special features such as spigots for attaching garden hoses, filters, mosquito-proof mesh, and child and animal-proofing.
What are the Benefits?
A few Tips:
- Rain barrels drastically reduce runoff with low costs and minimal maintenance.
- Simple to install, suitable for virtually any household property size or location
- Stores relatively clean (and unchlorinated) water for use on lawns and gardens.
- Can reduce domestic water use, lowering water bills and demands on city water system, especially during peak summer periods.
- If used and maintained properly there can be a reduction of 65–70 % of runoff.
- Select a barrel that can hold most of the rain that comes off your roof. In some cases, you may have to buy one for each downspout or connect more than one together. See Calculate Your Runoff in the Do-It-Yourself section of the Library page.
- Install the rain barrel on a strong, level surface as it can weigh up to 1200 lbs when full -- a patio or paving stone is ideal.
- If the barrel is slightly elevated, a hose can use gravity to feed water to a garden or lawn.
- To limit mosquito-breeding, ensure that your barrel is vector/mosquito proof. Most manufactured rain barrels come with this feature.
- Rain water collected in your barrel is ideal for watering your garden, but not recommended as drinking water.
Rain barrels can cost up to about $260 depending on the size and manufacturer. Price is related to the size of the barrel, and the additional features that it has. Features like filtering systems, spigots and mosquito proofing increase costs.
- Clean and maintain your eavestroughs and downspouts of leaves and debris, to prevent clogging of spouts or the barrel.
- Drain your rain barrel before each storm event to allow for full capacity storage.
- Drain your rain barrel before the winter - water will freeze and can crack the barrel.
As part of the City of Toronto's free Downspout Disconnection Program, the city may install a 214 litre rain barrel if suited to your property.
The RiverSides RiverSafe RainBarrel
The RiverSafe RainBarrel is ideal for managing stormwater on your property. Its solid one- piece design is very durable and withstands the cold of Canadian climates. More details and ordering information is available on the RiverSides website.
View the RiverSides RiverSafe RainBarrell brochure in PDF format.
RiverSafe RainBarrel Features:
- 500 litre capacity
- 200 micron- mesh sediment and mosquito filter
- Easy clean sediment and leaf filter system
- Flow bypass for full barrel and non use in the winter
- Child- proof design
If you are looking for instructions on how to use/install your rain barrell, please download our installation instructions or the maintenance brochure in PDF format.