Pouring down rain, impromptu rain barrel.

laurabs(7b)June 28, 2007

The City of Raleigh just delivered our fresh trash cart so it's clean and empty. It started pouring down rain so I ran outside and found the water from the roof was all coming down on top of it, as I expected. So I opened it up to let it fill.

This accidentally happened once before to my Shaw cart, and we'd had to drill a hole in it to drain it, but with the water restriction coming, I figured it was a good time to collect some water. Hope the cart doesn't split; the Shaw one handled it great. Wonder how many gallons they hold?

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zigzag

The full size ones are 96 gal, the smaller 65 according to my handy-dandy "Talking Trash" handbook. Great multi-tasking for the trash barrel, but now what to do w/the trash!?!

You're lucky you got some rain - I hit a shower around 4 p.m. when passing thru Wake Forest, but nada here. Bummer!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:01PM
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laurabs(7b)

Thanks, zigzag.

For the moment I still have the old trash cart from Shaw Sanitation. All we know is they plan to get them in July. It wasn't a very long rain, but I still filled the thing about 20 inches. I'll need to put it in containers with lids so nothing can live. Neighbor might let me buy some of that stuff to keep mosquitos out, or can I put in a few drops of bleach without harming the plants?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 1:47AM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

I don't know about bleach, but if you have one, you can cover a rain barrel or large container with an old screen and that'll keep stuff out of it. When we had new guttering put on several years ago we had one of the downspouts fixed to keep a rain barrel under it. We buy the cheapie 10cent feeder goldfish to throw in there and they'll take care of the skeeters too. A lot of times the fishies even survive winters here. If you fool with them enough they'll come nibble out of your hands which is a lot of fun.

In the winter it's a good water source (unless it's frozen) to water the plants stored under the house. Each time DH waters he just refills from the barrel for the next watering and stores the milk jugs under the house so they're the same temp when he needs them again.

Some of my plants only like rain water so this was a way to deal with that too.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 9:09AM
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zigzag

Well, speaking of rain barrels, this may be another summer for them. My house was being built in the summer of '02 - torridly hot and deep drought (Falls Lake became a pond)- so I had planned on them from the start. This same drought summer, Cary was heavily promoting rain barrel use, selling them cheap or giving them away - I forget which - Raleigh was still snoozing.

Googling led me to rainwatersolutions.com located right here in Raleigh. At that time, their barrels were being sold at the Wake Cty Landfill/Dump/Whatever it's called on Durant. I got two of the now "original" design and paid less than $70 for each, including all piping etc. I just looked them up and my barrels are now $199 each ( !! ) and widely retailed along w/new designs. No surprise that the Durant Rd Landfill wasn't listed as a 'retailer'.

Sadly, it seems that water conservation has been upscaled right out of the reach of the average family - well, just my opinion, I wouldn't/couldn't pay that. However, you may have hit on something using your new Raleigh trash can - according to the handbook, one additional 96 gal can can be purchased for $40 - add a little creativity and screening and you might have the best rain barrel on the street!

Hmmmm .......

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 10:50AM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

I have a series of three 55 Gallon Rainbarrels set up at my house, all linked together via PVC piping. I got the idea from some posts here at Gardenweb (though not in the Carolinas section), there are lots of rainbarrel threads if you search.

Anyway, I have a strange phenomenon occurring with mine...that I haven't been able to figure out. I'll post it here and maybe someone has an idea about it.

My rainbarrels were about 75% full the first part of this week. I can tell because I have a clear plastic tubing that branches off of the spigot I use to dispense the water. The tubing runs up next to the barrels and I can tell the overall water level by looking at the level in the tubing.

Well, as I said, the barrels were full...but we had a gully-washer one night (either Mon or Tues, can't remember which) and I went out the next morning to see how much rain we got and now the barrels are 25% full! How could that be? Well I've had this happen before and I've never been able to figure it out. It's almost like the gully-washer "flushes out" the barrels if it is too intense. But the way it's designed, it doesn't seem possible. The only exits for the water are the spigot I mentioned above (doesn't leak - I checked) and an overflow pipe that only releases water if it reaches a certain level (near the top of the barrel).

The piping/spigots handle the pressure of the volume of water fine...the barrels will sit for a weeks at 80%+ capacity...but then we get a big rain and this thing happens.

It's weird!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:34AM
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laurabs(7b)

Update! I filled 3 water jugs I had on hand from my barrel. Then we got more rain. When I checked the level, it was only back to the 2-feet level. This didn't make sense, so I looked inside to see if there might be a hole. I'm not sure the Raleigh design is water-tight any higher than there due to the design. The Shaw one held water all the way to the top.

Hmm.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:23AM
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zigzag

Well, mine is the smaller size and it's solid molded up to where the front grab handle pokes thru - which is about 2' up. Maybe that's where the water is getting out. If one were to actually use one for rain barrel purpose, caulking that handle both inside and out should do the trick.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:50AM
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laurabs(7b)

Yep, that's where the water's getting in.

I checked Craig's list for an actual rain barrel, and saw one that was about $15!

It was that ugly bright blue color, but now that there are paints that will stick to plastic, I guess I could remedy that.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:26PM
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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

Here's one of my barrels that sets under the eave of my garden shed. I have used both the regular latex enamel spray and the Krylon Fustion...both work fine. :)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:55PM
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zigzag

mrsig, your disappearing water is definitely bizarre .... ? maybe your neighbors are helping themselves figuring you'll never miss it ?

pfmastin, great example of conventional items used in an unconventional way - good design!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 9:13AM
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laurabs(7b)

Okay, so I'm going to get something set up. But the weird part is that most people use water from their gutters, but that's not where all this water is coming that I want to collect, although I guess I can collect water from the back gutter as well, but not the front door one too easily because of the long buried pipe the water is already going through.

I just want to collect it where the slope is currently dumping water in one spot. The only reason it hasn't been gouging out a hole in the ground is because the previous home owner placed the trash can there to let the water hit. (Leaving the empty can open one time was how I even noticed this phenomenon). This is not something that a mere gutter could contain, but surely this isn't an unusual roof configuration? It's just a change in slope where it directs the water to one pour-off spot.

So my rain barrel in this spot will need to have a mesh top for the water to cascade off the roof into, I suppose. Won't be gorgeous, but I already have a plant to hide the trash can that's been there, and the trash can will just sit next to the rain barrel.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 2:56PM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Yeah, ZigZag, there has to be some explanation for why the water is doing this.

We had a gully-washer last night too. But the barrels were only 1/3 full, and now are about 2/3 full. I'll have to keep a look out for the next time we have a big rain and see if I can actually catch this phenomenon in action.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:39AM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Did it again!

We had a huge downpour Wednesday night at my house. The barrels were at around 2/3's full when it started, now are at around 1/4 full.

Unfortunately, I had to go into work so I wasn't around to actually witness the event in action.

It's baffling, but I have GOT to figure out what's happening, if for nothing else but to save my sanity.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:18AM
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zigzag

Hmmm ..... maybe you'll need to set up a 'nanny-cam' !

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:45AM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Yeah, no kidding.

The funny thing is that I can run water into the barrel from the hose (which has got to be a higher volume of water than comes from a down spout, even in a down pour) and it fills up just fine with no problems, and will sit at that level for days.

Ack, I have no idea. I'll try to tinker with it again over the weekend.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 10:55AM
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stefan_k(7)

It must start siphoning out when it reaches a certain level (high water level) and then stop when enough water drains out (low water level). If it rains hard maybe the rapid overflow is starting this siphonong effect. Do you have any hoses hooked up when it occurs? Can you post a picture of your barrell? Or maybe invite some engineers over for troubleshooting... They like beer :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 11:34AM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Siphoning effect is exactly what I was thinking. I do have a number of hoses connected, but they're all shut "off." The only hose that doesn't shut off is the overflow and that can't even be reached unless the water level is within 2 inches of the top of the barrel(s).

If it's siphoning, I just don't understand why it doesn't work when I pump water in myself as a test. Maybe even the high-pressure water I have doesn't provide as much volume as the incoming rain from the downspout.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:48PM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Actually, the more I think about it, it definitely is a siphoning effect.

The water level always drops to around 1/3 when this happens, and I have 3 rain barrels all connected together. Too much of a coincidence for it to ALWAYS drop to 1/3, with me having 3 rain barrels.

I have my overflow pipe coming up from the bottom of the middle barrel in the configuration, with a hose connected at the bottom and running into the yard. Ideally, as the water level rises, it hits the upper level of that pipe (inside the barrel) and starts draining out the overflow right down the center of the barrel and into the yard.

HOWEVER, my center barrel also happens to be a closed system. Other than the overflow pipe, there is no outlet to exchange air for the water coming into the barrel (the outside barrels both are vented - one with downspout entry, the other with a nail-sized hole on the top). So, when that middle barrel completely fills up (like it does in a downpour), it then completely fills up the overflow pipe and siphoning effect occurs. It then siphons ALL the water out of the outside 2 barrels, until enough water is siphoned out so that the level drops to the top of the overflow pipe in the middle barrel. It then slowly levels out the water from that 1 full barrel to all 3 barrels. That's why it's always roughly 1/3 full after this phenomenon occurs.

To fix this, I need to get some air exchange happening in that middle barrel. To do so, I have to eliminate the "closed system" aspect of my middle barrel. I can do that by simply putting a nail-sized hole in the top like I did in the other. I think I'll try that first.

Oh, and the reason I didn't see this happen when I tested this before, is that I didn't let the water completely fill high enough and long enough for the siphoning effect to start. It would have been a period of time AFTER the barrels all appeared full. I obviously didn't wait long enough.

I think that makes sense to me. Make sense to anybody else?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 1:12PM
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zigzag

Ummm, yeah - some sense to me, but I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around a 3 barrel system (I have two connected). Maybe you need to disconnect/isoloate and let that 3rd stand on its own - maybe. Better yet, invite a flock of engineers over - and just remember that they like beer !

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 3:52PM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

The 3 barrel system works just like the 2 barrel. All are interconnected with PVC that runs across the bottom. Between Barrels 1 and 2, I have a spigot that runs off the PVC. When I run the spigot, it pulls equally from all barrels at the same time.

Don't have any engineers nearby, so I'll just have to put on my engineer cap and keep that beer to myself!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 4:24PM
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zigzag

Yeah, you might want to conserve that beer - your description differs from my configuration, as I read things.

My barrels each have an openable/closable spigot located near the bottom. That's where I can connect hoses, open the spigot to bleed out, if I wish - one or both (I leave them both open in the winter).

The barrel to barrel interconnection hosing I have is way up, a few inches from the top of barrel #1. So barrel #1 fills and then overflows into barrel #2. So, I don't see the syphon action pulling from both barrels simultaneously as you described - overflow doesn't happen until barrel #2 is full. Then there is a failsafe piping to the ground, but only after both barrels are full. I'm confused.

Guess your mention that "All are interconnected with PVC that runs across the bottom" really threw me. I don't get it. Do you have pumps or something else enhancing the rain barrels?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 5:10PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

I must say that was the best rain ever. Everything was drooping and sad before that and ever since nothing has drooped and everything has gotten a second wind. The veggies look like they doubled in size!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:30AM
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mrsig(SC Zone 8)

Zigzag - I did the PVC along the bottom so I could draw from all barrels equally, and fill all barrels equally without having to run 2 seperate lines. Here's a pic of my set up.

Let me know if that shows up (images are blocked on this computer so I can't tell). If it shows, I'll follow with some other pics of my set up and how I fixed the problem I described above.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 9:38AM
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rocklandguy

Hi guys, Was just reading your threads and also don't understand why you are losing the water, other than a leak or the only other thing I can see is if your "water level tube" coming from the bottom is lower that the overflow opening at the top. That could start a siphon if enough water volume is entering the barrel. I started out with two 55 gal barrels, but I used that water too fast. So I bought two more barrels. The easiest way to connect them was using one fitting each, I put a valve between the two new barrels and the two old barrels, and now I am set with 220 gallons when full. This weekend we had very heavy rains, the barrels filled quickly and evenly, and I witnessed the overflow working the way I expected it to. I attached a photo of my set up. It works very well. In my pic, I have my water level tube tied to the red overflow spigot at the top. The spigot is really not necessary there, but I had it and used it. At the time of the pic, I did not have a hose coming off the overflow spigot. It is really amazing how much water comes off my 10x14 shed roof each time it rains. The plants and veggies also grow much better with the rain water. Oh by the way, these barrels were the bright blue barrels and I painted them with the Krylon Fusion paint.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:01PM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Could I ask what you use to "glue" your fittings in? The County Extension had us use silicone but it' doesn't adhere well to PVC or brass. Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 4:21PM
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rocklandguy

I drill 15/16" holes, using 3/4" fittings, (90 degree el's, close nipples going thru the barrel connecting the 90 & the bushing on the inside of the barrel). I also use a "Danco #9 Cap Thread Gasket" (rubber), similar to a hose washer, on the inside of the barrel between the bushing and the barrel. The trick is having fittings that have a "shoulder" that can squeeze against the rubber gasket.I then run a bead of GE Window & Door silicone around the fitting on the outside of the barrel. I don't even think that is necessary, but I did it anyway while everything was dry. If you noticed in my pic, only one of my barrels has 3 fittings. The others only have one each. That much less chance of leaks, and I don't even have hose clamps on any of the hose connections. So far, so good.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 5:16PM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Thanks for the reply Rocklandguy! I've printed out your message for my DH.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 5:23PM
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