Installing a rain barrel - diverter and safety


I picked up one of the rain barrels at the YVR City sale weekend before last and have a few questions.

All my gutter drains go right to the ground so I bought a diverter from Lee Valley,2280,33160,64700

  1. So it looks like I’ll need to cut our a section of the downspout to install the diverter, what’s the best tool to cut the downspout and not make a mess of it?

  2. A friend had concerns about the safety of using a rain barrel, especially if you have asphalt shingles on the roof in relation to hydrocarbon and other toxic run off from the singles. I did ask the rep from the company selling the barrels at the city event, but the response I got back was akin to: we’ve never heard any problems like that so you should be fine.

Any thoughs from the VHS crew? Would you drink water from your rain barrel in addition to watering your food garden with it?


Rainwater from roof for gardening, laundry etc. Sure

For drinking mmm. Personally no. Do birds shit on your roof?



I would probably not use it for laundry. How easy would it be to hook it up
into the toilets?


Regarding drinking it… Treat it as grey water. Aside from excrement on the roof, you have no control over the quality once it’s collected in the barrel. Especially in summer times, bacteria, algae and other micro-organisms will thrive in stagnant water. If there’s animal excrement in there, it could turn into a potential source of physical suffering… I wouldn’t drink it without at least filtering and boiling it. (Yay, botulism! Okay, that’s maybe not the real threat, but there’s some potential for stomach aches in there.)

That being said… It’s great for watering your garden! For toilet use, you wouldn’t have a lot of issues with high turn-over usage or maybe some sort of water purifier or granular filtering (a slow sand filter might be a good one), as there’s always the risk of algae build-up, which could clog piping to your bathroom water storage.


We used rainwater in bella bella regularly. Most did.

Our place just took the rainwater into a large barrel, and pumped that directly into the house. Used for showers, toilets, etc. For cooking/drinking, we’d filter it.

The main house had a fancy UV system to clean their water, so they had essentially the same as city water.


Just to be 100% clear Rob, you used rainwater collected from the
roofs/gutter, or direct catch from the sky (bypassing any roof or other
building surfaces)?

Based on this thread and some online reading, I am thinking probably going
down the path of a big ass funnel that collects ambient rain directly into
the barrel bypassing the issue of potential roofing material contamination
and toxins.


From the roof/gutter.
But… we weren’t the safest people.


Personally I’ve never understood rain barrels in Vancouver, our climate is too much all or nothing, a rain barrel might fill in 20 mins in winter but lie empty for two months in summer when you really need it. I think there’s more to be had from modifying the building code to encourage collection of shower and laundry water for use in toilet cisterns.

In Australia new builds have a point scheme applied to them, they have to meet a certain number of points to be approved. Stuff like collecting rainwater for toilet cisterns is normal, also stuff like solar energy etc.

If you’re building a new home, installing a rainwater tank can help you achieve the minimum regulatory requirements of the 6 Star Standard. To meet the 6 Star Standard with a rainwater tank, it must be installed in such a way that it receives the rainfall from the minimum catchment area of 50 square meters; and have a minimum capacity of 2000 litres; and be connected to all toilets in the building for the purpose of sanitary flushing.