Rain Barrels

< Back to Stormwater Tools

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a storage container connected to a downspout that captures stormwater runoff from the roof.

You can use the stored water for your non-edible plants or outdoor cleaning. Reduce your water consumption and manage stormwater runoff at the same time!

  • Participant cost: Rain barrels $25 includes diverter and installation. Homeowner provides and prepares stand.

20180721_165058 (1).jpg

About rain barrels:

  • Materials: Clean Streams, Clean Water uses clean, repurposed 55-gallon food-grade plastic barrels, which means they have been used in the past to carry food items or other non-toxic materials.

  • Dimensions: Each rain barrel is approximately 22.5” diameter and 36.5” in height. The barrels “bow out” in the middle to a diameter of about 24”. Exact dimensions may vary.

  • Installation: $25 includes diverter. Homeowner must provide and prepare a level stand of some sort.


  • Mosquitos: Some rain barrels have a screened top to prevent mosquitoes. Some rain barrels have an enclosed lid with small drain holes to prevent water collection on the lid

  • Overflow: Once the barrel is full, excess water flows back into your downspout, or rain overflow may be directed towards a rain garden using an overflow hose.

Rain barrel maintenance:

Rain barrels are very low maintenance and only require a few easy actions:

  • Empty: Empty your rain barrel completely before each rainstorm (full barrels can’t capture stormwater!)

  • Clean: Clean out any sediment or leaves that collect at the bottom of the barrel using the removable caps on the top of the barrel. We recommend this every fall.

  • Keep gutters clean: Keep your home’s gutters free from leaves and debris. Clogged gutters can keep your rain barrel from filling properly.

  • Winterize: In the winter, drain your barrel and detach it from the downspout. Rinse out the barrel with a vinegar solution. A winter plug is provided to seal the hole in your downspout. Store the rain barrel in a protected area, be sure to place your diverter in a where you will remember it for Spring.

  • Spring: Place rain barrel back on line. Disconnect winter plug and put in safe place. Attach the diverter you stored in a place where you would remember it. Connect your overflow hose. Remember to empty the barrel in between frequent storms if you haven’t used all the water for plants or your garden.

Sign Up

To sign up for a rain barrel at your home, sign up for a workshop (attendance is required before installation).

Homeowner may install one rain barrel plus one other stormwater feature. 

Sign up for a workshop and request a storm water feature

Video credit: The Philadelphia Water Department