5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Collecting Rainwater

Are you planning on setting up a rainwater harvesting system in your home this weekend?  Well, setting up one isn’t a challenging task, especially if it’ll be a simple system. However, in the process of setting it up, there are mistakes you might end up unknowingly making. This article will highlight some of the common mistakes you can avoid during this project. Follow through for the tips.

  • Using The Wrong Tank Size

For your rainwater harvesting to be a successful project, you need to install the right-sized rainwater barrel.

The barrel should be wide enough at the top to allow incoming rainwater. The mistake you might be making is the container having a small top. Yes, it might still collect rainwater, but what if the pressure of the water is low?  If you don’t have a downspout or one that’s long enough, the water might find itself falling onto the walls of your container rather than into it. This wastes a lot of water, reducing the rainwater you collect.

Another mistake is buying or using a small-sized tank. It might be sufficient when the rain isn’t heavy, but what about during storms?  You’ll find yourself in a situation where your barrels fill up within no time. This will lead to water pouring out, which defeats the purpose of harvesting water in the first place. The reason for this might be that you have limited space in your compound to accommodate a large tank. One solution is that you can store rainwater under your deck.

  • Not Having An Overflow

You might’ve planned out your rainwater collecting system adequately, and it might already be working for you. However, you may have forgotten to consider the possibility of overflow within all the planning. This might become a problem in the future. 

Without an overflow, as previously stated, your tank will overflow, and the extra water will become surface runoff, which is what you want to avoid. All you need to do is place two or three extra barrels next to the original one. Join all three using connector pipes. Fix the pipes near the top of the barrel, such that when the rainwater reaches that level, it’ll automatically flow into the next one, and so on up to the last one.

Another mistake you might make is failing to plan the use of the overflow water. What happens if the barrels still aren’t sufficient due to extremely heavy rainfall?  It’d help if you created an overflow solution. Do this by fixing a tap at the lower part of your last barrel at a considerable distance and connecting a pipe. Once you notice the tanks are full, all you have to do is open the tap and direct the water to your garden, green lawn, or underground tank, if you have one, through the pipe. Doing this prevents excessive water flow and wastage.

  • Not Screening water

Screening is an important aspect to consider as you position your barrel.

A screen will protect dust, pests, and other debris from getting into your rain barrel. This prevents the contamination of the water. You can choose from many screens—some are made of fabrics, while others are mesh-like. You’ll need to place the screen at the mouth of your barrels. Make sure it’s slightly bigger than your tank’s mouth and secure it firmly. This will prevent it from falling into the water due to pressure.

Besides preventing the entry of debris into your harvested rainwater, it’ll also eliminate a breeding ground for mosquitoes in your water. This prevents the spread of water-borne diseases in your home.

  • Using The Wrong Container

When you decide to do the rainwater harvesting system as a DIY project, you might end up choosing the wrong container for your barrel.

The container might be wrong, depending on how you plan to use the water. The main issue arises when you’re to use it for drinking. There are always many empty containers lying around your home or neighborhood. However, since you weren’t their original user, you have no idea about their previous use. The previous owners might’ve used them to store chemicals or other harmful substances. Even if you clean them before using them, some contaminants might remain on the sides, which can jeopardize your health.

Therefore, to avoid all this, if you’re to use rainwater for drinking purposes, use a container whose original use you know of. Alternatively, consider buying a container from vendors you trust, and you’ll lift the baggage of the search.

  • Not Considering Regulations

You might be wondering how regulations come in when you harvest rainwater. Well, some states deem it illegal to do so. It might not be illegal in other states, but there might be restrictions on how you collect water and how you use it in your home.  

Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with the laws in your locality. Ask your local council to guide you appropriately. This way, you won’t end up on the wrong side of the law as you try to conserve water.


As seen, the mistakes mentioned above are those that you can easily forget as you set up your rainwater harvesting system. Therefore, take note of them and assess if you’re committing any of them. With the additional insights provided in the article, you’ll be able to lessen the chances of errors.



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