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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why save rain?
2. How much rain falls off my roof and how much can I harvest?
3. Is saving water in a few barrels really going to make a difference?
4. What kind of water pressure can I expect from a Rain Barrel?
5. How quickly will my Rain Barrel fill up?
6. Can I leave the Rain Barrel out during the winter?
7. Can I use my rain water to water my lawn?
8. Can I hook a pump to my Rain Harvesting System?
9. What do I need to know about maintaining my Rain Barrel?
10. What is the best method to Draw-Out the collected rain water from my Barrel?
11. Why is it important to manage my stormwater?
12. What are some of the ways to manage stormwater on my property?
13. How do I winterize my drip irrigation Kit?
14. Is bleach a good choice in keeping my rain harvesting system sanitized?
15. If I wanted to use the water from my RainSaucer Barrel for emergency drinking water, how do I prepare it for that, as well as keep the water sanitized?



1. Why save rain?
It's a good idea that is beneficial for the environment. It helps ease Portland's stormwater overflow problems, decreases demand on municipal water, and helps to prevent rain from becoming polluted stormwater. Rain itself does not contain chemicals added by the city system, or leaching from old pipes but is naturally soft, oxygenated and pH neutral.

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2. How much rain falls off my roof and how much can I harvest?
Here in Portland, we do not suffer from lack of rain water. If it rains 1/2 an inch in one day, a 1,000 sq. ft. roof will yield 315 Gal. of water. The average house hold receives about 24,000 Gal. of rain a year. As for harvesting rainwater, that depends on how many downspouts you connect to and how many rain harvesting systems you have. To give you an idea, a half inch of rain collected from just a 300 sq. ft section of roof will fill a 55-60 Gal. Rain Barrel.

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3. Is saving water in a few barrels really going to make a difference?
You have to think about the big picture here. If 1/2 of everyone in Portland collected and used a single barrel of water, we would have conserved upwards of 15 million Gal. Each and every barrel contributes some impact on stormwater runoff especially if you incorporate rain gardens with your barrels and manage the water coming from your downspouts.

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4. What kind of water pressure can I expect from a Rain Barrel?
The higher the elevation the greater the water pressure will be at the lower point. Each foot of elevation change is equal to 0.433 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure or every 2.3 feet in elevation you will get 1 lbs of pressure. So if you place your Rain Barrel on a 2 ft. stand you would have 2.165 pounds of water pressure. To give you an idea as to how low that is, is to tell you that the plumbing in your house is between 40-80 PSI and you would not want that in your Rain Barrel because it would be empty in seconds! 2 to 3 PSI is a good operating mode especially if you connect a drip irrigation kit to it.

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5. How quickly will my Rain Barrel fill up?
Pretty darn quick! A half inch of rain collected from just a 300 sq. ft. section of roof will fill a 55 Gal. Rain Barrel.

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6. Can I leave the Rain Barrel out during the winter?
Yes, but we suggest that you empty the barrel during a cold snap. The Barrel is fairly durable being made from high density polyethylene but the brass spigot and/or the PVC plumbing will not hold up to freezing weather very well and more than likely, will crack.

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7. Can I use my rain water to water my lawn?
Sure, but you will need a large capacity rain harvesting system and a large surface area to capture the rain. A typical lawn requires about 3,000 Gal. a month. However, Rain Barrels should be used to augment your watering needs. I recommend, before going with big tanks to water your lawn, you should look at ways to reduce your outdoor water consumption. Planting native vegetation and drought hearty plants, while also using drip irrigation, will greatly reduce your water consumption.

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8. Can I hook up a pump to my Rain Harvesting System?
Yes you can, but we don't recommend it for a 55-60 Gal. Rain Barrel. Home improvement stores sell transfer pumps that require an electrical outlet that can move 8 plus Gal. of water a minute. Since your Rain Barrel holds 55-60 Gal. of water, you will only have about 7-8 minutes of watering. Why not use drip irrigation and use your water wisely.

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9. What do I need to know about maintaining my Rain Barrel?
Before and after you set up your Rain Barrel make sure that the gutters are fairly clean. Leaves and pine needles won't clog the diverter but decomposed organic matter will. How well you maintain your gutters, effects the degree of performance of your system as well as reflect on how often you should clean the inside of your Barrel. We suggest every 2-3 years, using a solution of 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of Castile soap per Gal. of water. You can also use grapefruit seed extract to sanitize your Rain Barrel. (One drop per Gal. premixed in water)

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10. What is the best method to Draw-Out the collected Rain water from my Barrel?
That would be through drip irrigation. It is the most effective way to water, because the water is delivered right to the roots of the plants where it can be slowly absorbed into the soil. This reduces runoff and spreads the water out into the soil better promoting root growth. Water is also not lost due to evaporation. To ensure enough pressure to move the water through the drip system, your Barrel needs to be elevated at least two feet to maintain it when the Barrel is less than full.

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11. Why is it important to manage my stormwater?
When it Rains, stormwater flows from roofs, roads, parking lots, and other hard surfaces. This stormwater runoff contributes to stream pollution and habitat destruction, and costs the city millions of dollars. By properly self-managing stormwater on your property, you help to mimic nature and reduce stormwaters damaging effects.

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12. What are some of the ways to manage stormwater on my property?
Direct the stormwater from disconnected downspouts and Rain Barrel over-flows on to pervious areas, such as rain gardens, porous pavement, vegetated swales, filter strips and pocket wetlands.

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13. How do I winterize my drip irrigation Kit?
First, if your using a timer, disconnect it and bring it indoors. Second, blow through the lines after removing the end piece. The tubing will not be damaged by freezing weather but fittings will crack if water is left in them. So elevate low spots! Third, put the end piece back on and plug the beginning of the mainline tubing. Do not leave lines open. As long as the tubing is not full of water, there should be no damage.

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14. Is bleach a good choice in keeping my rain harvesting system sanitized?
Yes, bleach is still the number one world wide chemical of choice for sterilizing everything from shower stalls to surgical instruments. Bleach effectively kills bacteria and viruses, stops smells and then breaks down after a few days to little more than salt and water, making it environmentally safe.

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15. If I wanted to use the water from my RainSaucer Barrel for emergency drinking water, how do I prepare it for that, as well as keep the water sanitized?
First make sure that your barrel is clean inside. If needed, use 2 tsp. of vinegar and 2 tsp. of Castile soap per gallon of water. Pour solution into barrel and secure the bung caps. Coat the inside walls by rolling the barrel back and fourth on its side. Let stand for a few minutes, remove the bung caps, then rinse it out.

Ratio of bleach per Gal. of water:

For long standing water, use 2 Oz. of unscented bleach per 60 Gal. or 8 Oz. per 250 Gal. Regularly used water may be treated with 1/2 Oz. of unscented bleach per 50 gal. or 2 Oz. per 200 Gal. once or twice a month.

We also recommend that you use a high quality water filter such as Katadyn or Berkey, in filtering your rain water to provide the most sparkling clean water possible.

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