"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Rain barrel water is contaminated by bird droppings, asphalt or cedar shingle residue and other pollutants. The water is great for the garden but is NOT fit for human consumption!

Winter by-pass

Rain Barrels

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The rain barrel shown below is the one that I installed for my own home. A few years later the municipality offered all homeowners in the region to purchase a barrel. Every residence should have one or more rain barrels. They are relatively cheap, easy to install, will lower your water bill, put less strain on the municipal storm sewer system and provide free unchlorinated water for your garden. With a few minor modifications to the downspout, rain water from the roof is redirected to the barrel. The 220 liter (58 gallon) 'food grade' barrel shown in the picture was purchased for $50.00. It came complete with a mosquito screen, overflow fitting and hose (top) and approximately eight feet of garden hose (bottom). The removable top will come in handy in the event that I have to replace the mosquito screen.

- Add a soaker hose to feed water to a garden or lawn.
- The barrel should be installed on a solid and level surface to support a barrel full with water. A 220 liter barrel weighs approximately 220 kg. (485 lb). I placed my barrel on a 6 inch (155 mm) stack of round patio stones.
- After each rainfall check and see that the mosquito screen is not clogged by leaves. It may be a good idea to install a downspout strainer which will keep leaves and other debris away from the rain barrel mosquito screen.
- Before winter begins empty the barrel to prevent frost damage.
- Also in late fall, I turn the downspout 90 degrees to py-pass the barrel and add a 4 ft. (1.22 m) extension to drain water away from the house. To protect the mosquito screen during the harsh winter months I cover the barrel with a water repellent soaked piece of plywood. Another option is to simply remove and store the barrel for the winter.

Summer set-up

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