In an effort to prevent your rain barrel from getting damaged during the upcoming cold months, your rain barrel should be winterized. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to switch over your diverter so your rain barrel is no longer collecting water. It is important to attend to this yearly maintenance task to avoid the problems that can be caused by ice building up in your rain barrel. Below are the appropriate steps to take to ensure your rain barrel is ready for you once spring rolls around again. You can also print out our brief checklist of steps to take to winterize your barrel to print and take with you when you go outside.
1. Drain your barrel.
No matter the style of barrel you have, you should drain as much water out of it as possible. If you own a Hydra rain barrel – drain to lowest hole (on side) using a channel lock to open the plug.
2. Keep the spigot of the rain barrel open.
If your barrels has the spigot with the red handle (below left), turn the handle so it is in line with rest of spigot. If your barrel has the brass spigot (below right), turn it completely counter-clockwise to open fully.
3. Flip the switch on your diverter.
To turn barrel to the “winter” setting, move the tab on the diverter from the side going to the barrel to the side that is is attached to the bottom of the downspout, and the tab is pointing away from the rain barrel (see photo). In the spring, you will need to flip the metal tab to the side of the diverter that goes towards the rain barrel.
NOTE: if you don’t have a diverter, you must either re-attach your downspout or leave your barrel drained and the spigot open all winter. This is not recommended.
4. Check the water pathway.
If your downspout is not going into the sewer or stormwater system (see photo), make sure the water and ice won’t cause damage to your property and the area round the rain barrel.
Don’t let winter precipitation ice up sidewalks or get into foundations cracks.
5. Take your garden hose inside.
As much as we love garden hoses, they don’t always survive the brutal Pittsburgh winters. They do better inside!
6. Cover your barrel if necessary.
If you own a rain barrel that is opened on the top or has a large top surface area, it has the potential to take in water/snow melt during winter months – including StormWorks’ Hydra. To prevent any water from entering the rain barrel, you can:
A. Cover top with a tarp. And/or:
B. Keep spigot open, as instructed in Step 2.
If you have questions, need support winterizing your rain barrel, or need rain barrel assistance in any way, StormWorks provides maintenance services for any size, style, or rain barrel model.
Our service agreement customers will receive two maintenance visits for each year they’re signed up. Schedule your appointment anytime through our online scheduler. We have 1-3 year plans available for all residents.
For more information, please see the StormWorks website.