Winter is Coming - Is your Rain Barrel Ready?

You don’t have to watch Game of Thrones to know that winter is coming.

The cold weather during the winter months changes and limits the way that homeowners can use their rain barrels. There are steps that each homeowner should take to prepare for this season in order to protect their rain barrels from colder temperatures and possible damage.

So, what can you do?

  1. The first thing that you want to do is drain your barrel. Low temperatures in the winter can cause water in the barrel to freeze. When water freezes, it expands, potentially cracking and damaging your rain barrel in the process. To avoid cracking and to extend the lifespan of your barrel, it is vital to drain your rain barrel before the first freeze of the season occurs. After draining your barrel, leave the spigot of your barrel open so that it can drain any water that may accidentally enter the barrel.

  2. Next, you want to change the setting of your barrel to bypass or divert. Our RiverSmart Homes rain barrels have a collect function and a bypass function. When switched to collect, your rain barrel will harvest the rain water. When switched to bypass, the rain water will drain down the downspout like it did before your barrel was installed and your rain barrel will not collect the water. During winter, you want to leave the spigot open so that the water does not accumulate, freeze, and in-turn damage your rain barrel. To see how to set each of our rain barrel models to bypass, please watch the videos provided below.

  3. After changing the setting, you should clear the filter in your barrel. We recommend clearing the filter in your rain barrel every month while the barrel is in collect mode. Giving the filter a final cleaning before setting it to bypass will help make sure no excess debris sits in the filter through the winter.

Draining your barrel, changing the setting to bypass, and clearing the filter are the three main steps to ‘winterizing’ your rain barrel.

How to Winterize Your RiverSides Rain Barrel

How to Winterize Your Hydra Rain Barrel


If you want to go the extra mile, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are prepared.

You can rinse your barrel off to wash away waste remains or built up algae. Debris and algae can form in your rain barrel after some time, so an occasional rinsing and cleaning may be beneficial. Winter is a good time to do this since you’ll need to empty the barrel and can remove any build-up from the spring and summer seasons.

Lastly, if you can, clean out your gutters. Cleaning out the gutters can help make sure they’re not weighed down by excess debris in addition to winter ice and snow.

You should begin this process as the weather gets colder. The longer rain barrels last, the longer their benefits can be reaped by you and our surrounding waterways.