rain barrel madison wi

Rain Barrel Winter Storage

Well, folks, it’s that time of the year again – Winter time. For those of you in the colder climates, that enjoy watering your gardens from rainwater collected in a rain barrel, it is time to start thinking about how and where to store your rain barrel(s).

What to do with your rain barrel can vary based on the manufacturer’s recommendations of the rain barrels you own. However, there are two things I recommend for everyone, regardless of the type of rain barrel you own:

Empty Water From the Rain Barrel

The freeze / thaw cycle can wreak havoc on items stored outside in your yard (along with the actual exterior of your home). I’m not a physict or environmental scientist, but I know expansion and contraction occurs as water freezes and thaws. If you empty the water from your plastic rain barrel, there won’t be much to expand and contract. If you have a wooden rain barrel, like those I’ve seen made from Whiskey Barrels, some moisture will remain in the wood – which brings us to my next recommendation:

Store the Rain Barrel Out of the Elements

On many rain barrels, whether food grade plastic or wood, there are sensitive seals at the spigot, the overflow spouts, and the water-in connectors. These connections are all susceptible to weathering. The glues and sealants have a limited lifespan under ideal conditions. You can extend their life by protecting them from the elements. After emptying the rain barrel, disconnect it the rain barrel from the diverter kit if there is one, and store in a temperature controlled garage or basement area. You don’t have room for a huge 55  gallon rain barrel in your garage? Park your car outside, protecting the rain barrel is of upmost importance! Just kidding. An outdoor storage shed is probably the next best thing. It will be protected from brutally cold winds and the snow. If you don’t have an outdoor storage shed, simply cover the barrel with a tarp. A good quality tarp will keep most, if not all, moisture off of the rain barrel. You can secure the tarp using some bungees from the home store. Even if you’re just tarping the barrel in place, it is still a good idea to disconnect the plastic hoses connecting the barrel to the diverter kit and store those indoors.

Hope that helps!! Please email or comment with questions.