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Forum record OT post: Rain barrel freezing question.

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  • Forum record OT post: Rain barrel freezing question.

    Do I get the prize for posting THE most OT question?

    Ya'll may recall me posting about installing a gutter diverter & rain barrel to harvest rain water for lawn & garden watering during the dry months. Turns out I was ahead of the curve as we've had terrible drought conditions in the area this year & saving what little rainfall we got was important. I'm up to 10 barrels now & it will help a lot next season.

    Of course, winter's here & the water's not needed. The forecast is for overnight lows of 18-20 deg later this week & the barrels will freeze. I hate to just pump it all out on the ground in case we have a dry spring. These are 55 gal polyethylene barrels & (I suppose) they have a little bit of flexibility. Would pumping 6 or 7 gal. out of each drum prevent cracking or is the only safe method to pump 'em dry? (No, antifreeze isn't an option.) What say ya'll scientists?
    Milton

    "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

    "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

  • #2
    I have used the white food grade plastic barrels, they have frozen over the winter and no problems. Don't know about red rain barrels.

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    • #3
      It takes some time for barrels to freeze through. Short cold snaps won't do it.

      Id be more worried about the valves than the barrels, they can freeze fast, and split. Don't know if the barrels will be ok with less water or not.
      1601

      Keep eye on ball.
      Hashim Khan

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      • #4
        Dump them. 1 or 2 decent rains in the Spring and they will be full again. I dumped mine a couple of weeks ago.

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        • #5
          as above, or set the barrel down in the ground.

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          • #6
            Set them in a semi heated barn or garage. Get some livestock trough deicers. Something like this:

            http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/pro...FQgGaQod55sFqw

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            • #7
              I know in some places it's like liquid gold but I think I would dump it, if they are the type of barrels im thinking they may have those half way up reinforcing ribs or whatever - so even just over half full those could anchor the main batch as it freezes and not allow it to "popsicle" its way up and split the barrels...

              then you lose the water and the ability to store the next round too

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              • #8
                If they are full close to the brim they will have more of a problem as the top will constrain expansion. I use an IBC - 1000 litres but in the UK it doesn't get that cold to freeze it .

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                • #9
                  Dickeybird i too have collected rainwater, i had 5 blue food grade plastic barrels, full, and have never dumped them, just let them freeze up, and thaw out in spring. Where i am located, we have winter temps down to -30--40F and never had one split. The barrels seemed to last for years, not sure how long i had them, but over 10+ years for sure, maybe 20 years.

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                  • #10
                    Freezing shouldn't hurt, plastic barrels are normally made of HDPE, so have some give to them and don't often split.

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                    • #11
                      If you think your barrels may split, set them where you want the spring water. When the thaw comes they will put water where you want it. If they survive all is good.

                      Mike

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                      • #12
                        I don't dump mine and never had a problem.

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                        • #13
                          This is very timely for me, as I too was debating if I really needed to drain my blue 55gal rain barrels.

                          Originally posted by ncjeeper View Post
                          I don't dump mine and never had a problem.
                          Do you leave them completely full as sasquatch does, or let some out?
                          I am surprised that they can be left 100% full and not have an issue with the 9% (?) expansion.

                          I have a brass ball valve near the bottom to be concerned about, and I am thinking a frost cover would make little difference.
                          Location: North Central Texas

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                          • #14
                            Wow, just as I thought; some very good info & 1st hand experience, thanks! The "do nothing, they'll be fine" camp really made my lazy self happy. I'll stay in the shop today & keep piddlin' rather than go out & hook up the pump to drain some off the top. It is my birthday after all and us 69 yr.-olds need to keep on piddlin'.

                            (I will bring the pump indoors though.)
                            Milton

                            "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

                            "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Valves are an issue, they freeze fast. Depends how they are, though.

                              A ball valve, with no pipe on the outlet, so the outlet side is dry, and a straight shot through back to the tank, is the best case for not being damaged. I'd worry about the water trapped in the ball, though. Noplace much for that to go.
                              1601

                              Keep eye on ball.
                              Hashim Khan

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