Roll out the barrel...

Rain barrel with overflow
Photo credit: jasonvance
Q:

I would like to get a rain barrel to collect the water from the down spouts and want one that can function year 'round here in the Willamette Valley. Most of the ones I have seen are plastic and must be drained and taken in for icy temps. Can you advise me on what kind of rain barrel I am looking for that can be left out and used all year in our area. 

- Marion County, Oregon
A:

This depends on when you want to collect the rain and how much you want to collect.

Since we receive a lot of rain in the fall, winter and spring, most people collect rain water to use in the summer. Therefore, they only collect water to fill their barrels in the spring and don't have to worry about freezing temps because it is empty.

If you are collecting a really large amount of water and want to collect in the winter period when it may freeze, then you will need to bury it in the ground. I think the specifications are that piping should be 12 inches or deeper.

I am not an expert on the many different types of rain barrels and piping materials that are available. My experience has included plastic barrels that can expand with freezing water (as long as it isn't full), but the faucets and piping is what is susceptible to freezing if they are not insulated and have water in them.

I suggest talking with an irrigation supply company/contractor because they should have a good idea of how to keep the components from freezing by insulating and/or heating the pipes if you are not able to bury them. 

Derek Godwin
Extension Watershed Specialist
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