Maintaining & Using Your Rain Barrel

Regular Maintenance

It is recommended to regularly check for leaks, obstructions or debris from the following:
  • Downspouts
  • Gutters
  • Rain Barrel Mosquito Screen
  • Rain Barrel Spigot
  • Rain Barrel Water Intake Screen
Also, confirm that the lid is secure so children and animals cannot fall into the rain barrel.


Drain your rain barrel before temperatures drop below freezing and keep the spigot open in the winter so water does not accumulate and freeze.

You can also turn it upside down or bring it inside to ensure no water accumulates in the barrel.

Preventing Mosquitoes

Your rain barrel comes with a mosquito-proof screen under the lid. When the mosquito netting is intact, and there are no leaks where mosquitoes can enter the barrel, your rain barrel should be mosquito-free.

Removing Accumulated Water

Remove accumulated water from the top of the barrel every 3-4 days during the rainy season. Mosquitoes need at least 4 days of standing water to develop larvae.

If you believe mosquitoes may be breeding in your rain barrel, empty it completely and let it dry out to kill all mosquitoes.


Don't worry, your rain barrel is meant to overflow once it is full. Overflow water will spill from the opening on the top and the overflow fitting. Connect a hose to the overflow fitting to direct the water away from your house. You can also connect a second rain barrel to the first one using the included connecting hose and double the amount of water captured before it overflows.

Check on your rain barrel when it is raining to make sure the overflow is not causing flooding or flowing into your neighbor's property. If your rain barrel is properly installed on a pervious surface, overflow water should be absorbed into the ground.

Rain Garden

If you see water pooling on your property, consider installing a rain garden, which is a type of landscaping designed to absorb water.

Painting Your Rain Barrel

Painting your rain barrel is a great way to customize its appearance. Follow these steps for the best results:
  1. Wash it thoroughly with soapy water to remove any dust or dirt.
  2. Once the barrel is dry, apply a plastic primer designed to adhere to polyethylene plastic. Note: Don't skip this step. Primer is important as paint will not stick to a rain barrel without primer, and house paint primers will not adhere well to rain barrel plastic.
    • Follow the instructions for the primer, including safety precautions.
  3. Gently buff the primer surface with fine sandpaper to remove any glossy areas.
  4. Paint the barrel with artist's acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is durable and won't chip or crack as easily as other paints.
  5. Allow several days for the paint to dry completely and apply a clear spray sealant to protect your artwork.
    • Follow the instructions for the spray sealant, including safety precautions. This will protect your work of art from the elements.


With proper installation, maintenance and use, your rain barrel should function properly. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago assumes no liability for the installation, maintenance or use of your rain barrel.

We are not responsible for any rain barrel malfunction; property damage or injury associated with your rain barrel malfunction; property damage or injury associated with your rain barrel, its accessories or contents.