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I am trying to get a rain barrel in place before the El Nino rains of this winter, which we hope will come to bless us here in Northern California.I am starting with just one barrel, but would like to add more as time and finances permit. I have a few questions about the example design detailed on this page on the site:

  1. The inflow for the barrel closest to the downspout is at the top, but it looks like it’s at the bottom for the other three. Does this mean that the other three barrels actually fill up first? And it looks like the barrels are all at the same height above the ground–should there be any height differential in order to make sure the water flows in or out properly?
  2. How fine does the screen at the inflow for the first barrel need to be in order to keep out mosquitoes?
  3. It looks like the barrels are all secured to the wall with standard plumber’s pipe strap. That seems pretty flimsy when compared to what’s required to secure our water heater inside our house. Should I be concerned about seismic safety WRT rain barrels? A full 55-gal barrel would weight close to 450 pounds…

Thanks!

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Hi,

  1. The inflow for the barrel closest to the downspout is at the top, but it looks like it’s at the bottom for the other three. Does this mean that the other three barrels actually fill up first? And it looks like the barrels are all at the same height above the ground–should there be any height differential in order to make sure the water flows in or out properly?

This system is designed so the barrels fill and empty as one unit. They are all connected at the bottom. As the rainwater enters the first barrel it flows through the tube at the bottom and keeps all the barrels filling at the same level. You don’t need any height difference.

  1. How fine does the screen at the inflow for the first barrel need to be in order to keep out mosquitoes?

You can use an old window screen, or purchase 40 mesh or smaller screen.

  1. It looks like the barrels are all secured to the wall with standard plumber’s pipe strap. That seems pretty flimsy when compared to what’s required to secure our water heater inside our house. Should I be concerned about seismic safety WRT rain barrels? A full 55-gal barrel would weight close to 450 pounds…

The strength of the strapping depends on where the barrels are located. If the barrels were located somewhere with children present, or if they could roll down a hill and damage something (or get into the road) etc. I would strap them with sturdier strapping (like water heater straps). These particular barrels were on the side of a garage in a home with no children, and if they fell over they wouldn’t damage anything.

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