Rain Barrels

Thank you for your interest in the MWRD's rain barrel program! Rain barrels are a type of green infrastructure that capture rainwater from your roof and save it for when you need it. By keeping this water out of the sewer system, rain barrels can also help prevent sewer overflows and flooding. You can use rain barrel water to wash your car, water your lawn, or clean work boots and tools. Rain barrel water is naturally free of chlorine, lime, and calcium and some gardeners swear their plants prefer it. However, since rain barrel water is runoff from your roof, do not drink it!

A Part of Any Yard

Most homes can benefit from several rain barrels. If you have areas of unpaved, pervious ground near your downspouts, rain barrels should work in your yard. Homeowners throughout Cook County have incorporated rain barrels into their yards with great results.

Green and Recycled

While the appearance and design of our rain barrels may vary, there is no difference in their functionality. Recycled barrels are 55 gallon plastic HDPE the barrels dry weight is approximately 17 lbs.

Barrels are made with 50-75% recycled content, depending on the resin color. All barrels come in four colors (black, blue, terra cotta and gray) and include leaf and mosquito filter screen, spigot/tap, overflow adaptor and overflow hose. Overflow adaptor permits rain barrels to be connected in series. Dimensions are approximately 24 inches wide and 36 inches tall.

Acquiring Your Rain Barrel

All Cook County residents can purchase a rain barrel for $45.78 (including tax) and this includes a flexible connecting elbow to attach your barrel to your downspout, a linking hose to connect it to a second barrel, detailed instructions, and free delivery to your home.

Installing Your Rain Barrel

Click here for information on how to install your rain barrel. To watch an installation video, click here

Using and Maintaining Your Rain Barrel

What can rain barrel water be used for?

You can use rain barrel water to wash your car, water your lawn, or clean work boots and tools. Rain barrel water is naturally free of chlorine, lime, and calcium, and some gardeners swear their plants prefer it.

Rain barrel water is runoff from your roof, so do not drink it or use it for bathing! Disconnect your rain barrel if you need to use a moss killer on your roof. Wait for a few rainy days before reconnecting your rain barrel to allow the moss killer to rinse away. Do not use rain barrel water on plants if your home has a copper roof or gutters.

Oh No, Overflow!

Don't worry, your rain barrel is meant to overflow once it is full. Overflow water will spill from the opening on the top and the overflow fitting. Connect a hose to the overflow fitting to direct the water away from your house. You can also connect a second rain barrel to the first one using the included connecting hose and double the amount of water captured before it overflows.

Check on your rain barrel when it is raining to make sure the overflow is not causing flooding or flowing into your neighbor's property. If your rain barrel is properly installed on a pervious surface, overflow water should be absorbed into the ground. If you see water pooling on your property, consider installing a rain garden, which is a type of landscaping designed to absorb water.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly check your gutters, downspouts, rain barrel water intake screen, rain barrel mosquito screen and rain barrel spigot for leaks, obstructions or debris. Also, confirm that the lid is secure so children and animals cannot fall into the rain barrel.

Winterizing

Rain barrels may crack! Rain barrels must be disconnected and stored inside during the winter. Do not leave rain barrels outside as freezing temperatures can cause cracking in the barrels. Be sure to empty water and store the barrels in a shed, garage or basement during the winter.

Preventing Mosquitoes

Your rain barrel comes with a mosquito-proof screen under the lid. When the mosquito netting is intact, and there are no leaks where mosquitoes can enter the barrel, your rain barrel should be mosquito-free.
Remove accumulated water from the top of the barrel every 3-4 days during the rainy season. Mosquitoes need at least 4 days of standing water to develop larvae. If you believe mosquitoes may be breeding in your rain barrel, empty it completely and let it dry out to kill all mosquitoes.

Painting Your Rain Barrel

  1. Wash the barrel thoroughly with soapy water to remove any dust or dirt.

  2. Once the barrel is dry, apply a plastic primer designed to adhere to polyethylene plastic. Follow the instructions for the primer, including safety precautions. Note: Don't skip this step. Primer is important! Paint will not stick to a rain barrel without primer, and house paint primers will not adhere well to rain barrel plastic.

  3. Gently buff the primer surface with fine sandpaper to remove any glossy areas.

  4. Paint the barrel with artist's acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is durable and won't chip or crack as easily as other paints.

  5. Allow several days for the paint to dry completely and apply a clear spray sealant to protect your artwork. Follow the instructions for the spray sealant, including safety precautions. This will protect your work of art from the elements.

Warranty Information

For technical and warranty information, please contact:

For round barrels, as shown at www.rainbarrel.ca, call toll free 844.422.7735
For squared off barrels, as shown at www.enviroworld.us, call toll free 877.634.9777

Disclaimer: With proper installation, maintenance and use, your rain barrel should function properly. The MWRD assumes no liability for the installation, maintenance or use of your rain barrel. We are not responsible for any rain barrel malfunction; property damage or injury associated with your rain barrel malfunction; property damage or injury associated with your rain barrel, its accessories or contents.For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs 312-751-6633 or public.affairs@mwrd.org.

Lady next to rain barrel