If you plan on hooking up your downspout to your rain barrel, it’s a good idea to incorporate a downspout diverter into your system. A downspout diverter serves two important functions. First of all, it directs the water that comes down the downspout into the barrel. Then, when the barrel is full the diverter sends water back down the downspout to empty away from the building’s foundation. In the process the diverter makes sure the maximum amount of water gets into the barrel and no water ends up eroding the foundation of your house or garage.
Downspout diverters come in two basic designs. The simpler design has a manual switch that sends the water either into the barrel or back to the downspout. This type can be a simple Y with a switch in the middle, similar to a diverter you might put on your outdoor hose bib to switch the water from one hose or another. With the other design backpressure automatically channels the water into the normal drainage system (i.e., the downspout) when the barrel is full; there’s no need to manually redirect the water with a switch.
How to Install a Downspout Diverter onto a Rain Barrel
Diverters are easy to install when you set up your rain barrel. With your rain barrel placed on solid, level ground near a downspout, cut the bottom of the downspout to fit the diverter onto the barrel. Most diverters are designed to fit standard 2”x3” downspouts, but you can get them larger. The rain barrel diverter you buy will most likely come with instructions for installing that specific diverter. Some rain barrel kits include diverters, so check that out before you buy one.
If, like most rain barrel users, you are concerned with protecting the environment, you can take your conservation ethic a little further by choosing a rain barrel and diverter made from recycled and/or recyclable materials.
Want to learn more about rain barrels and water conservation?
Because of their concerns about preserving water resources many cities and towns are providing residents with information about rain barrels. Some, like Lake Worth, Florida, give homeowners incentives for installing rain barrels, while others such as tiny Etna, Maine buy rain barrels in bulk and offer them to locals at wholesale prices. After you read about the rain barrel programs linked below, you might want to work with your own county or town to promote water conservation with rain barrels.