It's time to winterize

your rain barrel!

It’s getting to be that time again!  November is here and it is time to winterize your rain barrel. Yes, old man winter’s freezing temperatures can create wear and tear on your rain barrel, its diverter, faucet and its accessories.

Last Fall the RI Green Infrastructure Coalition met up with Beverly O'Keefe, otherwise widely known as the "RI Water Lady", to learn how to winterize our rain barrels. We captured our visit with her in this quick video which can help you prepare your rain barrel for the colder weather.  We are sending it again - in case you missed it last year! 

Why winterize your rain barrels?
Taking steps to winterize your rain barrel will help prolong its life and keep it in good condition for next year.  Be sure to follow these steps before temperatures start consistently reaching below freezing. Without preparations, cold weather could freeze, crack, or expand the barrel.

Tips from the Rain Lady - 

* In our visit with Beverly, she shared a step-by-step how to empty a 60-gallon barrel. We captured the entire visit on video and you can watch the complete instructional video here.

* Beverly suggested opening the spout connected to the barrel and letting the water drain out slowly.  You can just walk away until all the water is emptied. 

* If you are in a rush, there are several accessories that can be used to speed up the process to about 15 minutes.  Once the barrel is 3/4 empty, you can just tip it to empty out the rest. 

• Beverly says to NOT clean the barrel as it will accrue dirt wherever you store it during the winter.  Cleaning can happen when you bring it out in the Spring. 

* Beverly does suggest storing hoses, the mosquito netting and the faucet in the barrel.  Then store it under your house if possible, garage or in an outdoor shed.  Bringing it into the house is too much work. 

Enjoy the video. 

So here is a quick checklist:

* Disconnect the rain barrel from the gutter downspout.

* Connect a temporary downspout extension to the gutter that feeds that rain barrel. Position this so that it is directing rainwater away from the house.

* Use up or drain the rain barrel so there is no water left inside. Water left in for the winter may freeze and crack the barrel itself.

*Open the barrel’s spigot and leave open for the period of no use, this will avoid freeze damage to the hardware of the barrel.

*If you have storage move the rain barrel to an indoor storage area to really extend the life of your rain barrel. If you have not storage or prefer to leave your rain barrel outside then be sure to turn the barrel upside down.

*Cover your rain barrel with a tarp for additional protection. 

Nature At Work is a newsletter designed and distributed by the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition to bring more green space news to our cities and encourage the use of nature to clean, protect, and cool our neighborhoods.  Because of climate change, we are seeing increased heat impacts in our city, especially where there are fewer trees, as well as issues with flooding and polluted runoff in our neighborhoods.

The Green Infrastructure Coalition is a collaborative of more than 40 non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies focused on using nature to reduce stormwater pollution. We develop projects to demonstrate the powerful role nature can play to create healthier urban environments. We promote policies to create sustainable funding for stormwater management and green infrastructure solutions. And we connect a wide range of partners to share lessons learned in the Providence Metro area and Aquidneck Island.


RI-GIC Website