The Conservation Foundation has a great rain barrel program. We make it easy for individuals to purchase recycled food grade rain barrels online at a discount in an array of colors and options through our rain barrel link thanks to our rain barrel sales partner Upcycle Products. Your purchase not only supports The Conservation Foundation, but your are also making a local purchase from a local manufacturer.
One question we get about rain barrels is how to route water from the gutter into the rain barrel. You can do this with a diverter. The diverter you choose depends on several factors, so we hope this information will provide some guidance. We are not endorsing a particular diverter product because there are so many options, the choice is really yours. You must follow the manufacture installation instructions since they are not provided here. Factors to consider when choosing a diverter are: the location and distance of your rain barrel from you gutter, the size and shape of your gutter, where the water will overflow once the rain barrel is filled, and how to disconnect the rain barrel in winter. Some folks have gutters which capture large amounts of rain fall very quickly, and the diverter or overflow must be able to handle these larger amounts. In either case, we recommend you infiltrate the excess rainfall from the overflow or downspout to a rain garden, and away from your foundation. Occasionally the diverter, rain barrel screen, or the interior of the rain barrel must be cleaned of debris and sediment. Here is a list of some diverter options (click on thumbnail for a larger photo):
In series galvanized steel diverter with manual open/close option – This diverter connects in series with your gutter and has a door which can be easily opened to allow water into your rain barrel or into the downspout when closed. We recommend an appropriate sized overflow hose on your rain barrel, to handle the excess rainfall when your rain barrel fills up and the diverter remains open. Close the diverter door before winter to prevent water from entering your rain barrel. This type of diverter requires the rain barrel to sit directly underneath the door to capture the rainfall when open.
In series diverter with automatic hose diversion – This diverter connects in series with your gutter, but a hose connected off the side of the diverter routes rainfall into the rain barrel by entering another hose connection at the top of the rain barrel or to an overflow connection at the top of the rain barrel. When the rain barrel is full, the pressure of the water automatically redirects water back down the normal route of the gutter to your downspout. The hose must be removed from the rain barrel during winter and can be closed off with a cap. The rain barrel can be located off to the side of the diverter depending on the length of the hose.
Y connector gutter diverter – This diverter looks like an upside down letter "y". One leg of the diverter connects in series with your gutter, the other leg routes water to your rain barrel. It has a damper inside which you can manually change to open or close the water flow to one leg or the other. In other words, water is routed to the rain barrel when the damper is switched one way, or to the downspout when the damper is switched in the other direction. Attach various gutter elbows and extenders to route water to the rain barrel location which can be underneath or off to the side of the diverter. This diverter comes in various colors and sizes to match your existing gutters. In winter, you must switch the damper so no water enters the rain barrel.
Flexible elbow gutter diverter – You can create this diverter yourself using off the shelf gutter parts from your favorite home supply store. There are many options, but I like the version pictured here from an Elmhurst home. The homeowner attached a flexible gutter downspout in series with his gutter , which typically has two different sized ends – one 2×3" and the other 3"x4". He attached the appropriate sized end of the flexible elbow to an existing gutter, then installed another gutter piece sized appropriately for the other flexible downspout end, to the house wall using gutter straps. During the normal rainy season, the flexible downspout dumps water into the rain barrel and overflow hose routes excess water into a nearby prairie garden. In winter, the flexible downspout end is inserted into the gutter piece attached to the wall. Like the overflow, the downspout water infiltrates into his prairie garden.
Please share the pros and cons of any of these diverters or any other diverters you use, in the comments section below so that we may learn from from your experience. Thank you. – Denise Sandoval, Conservation@Home Assistant