Improve Drainage And Reduce Water Bills By Using Rain Barrels

Posted on: 30 March 2015

It never fails. Every time it rains, a small lake forms in your backyard. Though you may be tempted to ignore the problem, doing so can lead to serious issues developing such as damage to the home's foundation or problems with a septic system. One way to handle a drainage problem that could also reduce your water bill is to use rain barrels to capture some of the water that falls in your yard. Here's how to implement a simple rainwater storage system.

Setting Up the Rainwater Collection System

The system can be as simple or complex as you want or need it to be. The first step is to choose the collection point, which is typically one of the downspouts on the home. Before setting up the system, you must take the precaution of having your roof and gutter system checked for contaminants that could make the water unsafe to use. For instance, roofs on older homes may contain asbestos, which has been linked to serious health problems such as lung cancer.

Additionally, prior to implementing your rainwater system, it's a good idea to wash your roof and clean out the gutters and do so periodically to prevent debris like leaves and dirt from tainting the water you collect. Alternatively, you can build in a rain wash system that diverts the first few gallons of water that fall on the roof to an alternate location.

One way is to do this is to install a dual pipe system where rainwater is sent down one pipe that automatically closes off and sends water to a second pipe once it gets full. Be certain to build in a way to empty the collection pipe between rainy days or whenever necessary.

If your roof is safe to use as a catchment, the next step is to determine how much water you want to harvest. According to some calculations, one inch of rain on a 1,000 square-foot catchment will let you capture up to 600 gallons of water. You may harvest more or less depending on the size of your roof and the amount of rain your area gets. Rain barrels are available in a wide variety of sizes, with the average being 55 gallons, and you can link multiple barrels together to capture the amount of water you want or need.

Once you've got an idea of how large you want your system to be, you'll need to acquire rain barrels. The best kind of barrel to use is one that has a lid to keep out environmental contaminants. Whether you purchase a barrel or make one yourself, it should have a hole at the top to fit the downspout pipe and a hole high on the side where you can connect a hose to let out overflow water.

There should also be a spout or opening at the bottom of the barrel for filling watering cans, connecting to the home's main water supply, or emptying the container. It's best to get a barrel with a flat back so you push it flush against the side of the house. However, the overflow hose should be long enough to place several feet away from the building. You don't want the excess water finding its way to the home's foundation and causing expensive damage.

The system can be expanded on the fly according to your needs. You can easily connect multiple barrels to each other by hooking the overflow hose to the next container and so on and so forth. Therefore, if you find one barrel is not enough to prevent your backyard from getting flooded whenever it rains, you can connect additional barrels until you've gotten your drainage problem under control.

For more ideas on fixing a yard drainage issue, connect with an experienced home and garden specialist in your area.