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Recycling Rainwater: Harvesting & Repurposing a Precious Resource

With many parts of the country experiencing mild to severe droughts, finding ways to recycle rainwater is especially important. No matter where you live, there are seasons where rain is scarce, so we can all benefit from harvesting and repurposing this precious resource.

Even if you don’t collect enough rainwater to replace your water usage completely, recycled rainwater is great for watering lawns and plants, giving the dog a bath, or even washing the car. Here’s a look at the benefits of rainwater harvesting and how to set up your own collection system.

The Benefits of Recycling Rainwater

Recycling rainwater provides you with a free source of relatively clean water. It’s good for the environment because it conserves water and reduces storm-water runoff from your home. Your system can be as large or as small as you like, and it’s easy and affordable to get started.

The water you collect can be your main source of water, used primarily for landscaping purposes, or it can be reserved as a backup water source for emergencies. In fact, rainwater is better for your plants and many other purposes because it is free of chlorine and other chemical treatments.

How Rainwater is Harvested

Harvesting rainwater involves collecting the run-off from your roof and storing it for later use. The rain is collected in your gutters and channeled through your downspout into your storage container.

Your storage container could be a simple barrel, or it could be a large tank or cistern, depending on how much rainwater you wish to recycle.

Repurposing Your Harvested Rainwater

Harvested rainwater can be used anywhere you would normally use tap water, but it must be filtered or treated for drinking and cooking. It can be collected and used for everything from flushing your toilets to washing clothes.

Use it to top off your fountains or fishponds, or even refill your swimming pool. And, of course, you can use it for cleaning purposes like washing floors or hosing off driveways and sidewalks.

So, how do you get your harvested rainwater where you need it? Well, you can keep things simple and carry it by hand or it can be gravity fed through a hose and used wherever you need it. If you want to use it on a more extensive scale, you’ll probably want to utilize some type of pump to distribute the water through your home's existing system.

How to Set Up A Basic Rainwater Recycling System

Here’s our step-by-step guide for setting up your own basic rainwater collection system.

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is install gutters and a downspout if your home doesn’t already have them. You can do this yourself or hire a pro to do it for you.

  2. Now, it’s time to put your collection container in place. For most home systems, a 30- or 50-gallon barrel is a great choice. Clean the barrel inside and out with dishwashing liquid and rinse well. Place the barrel under your downspout, using cinder blocks or gravel to level it as needed.

  3. Next, you’ll need a spigot at the base of your barrel for attaching a hose. Using a 15/16-inch drill bit, drill your spigot hole on the side of the barrel about 3 inches up from the bottom. Insert your spigot and apply PVC cement to create a watertight seal. Once the cement sets, a hose can be attached, if you like.

  4. If your barrel has a lid, you will need to cut a hole in the top that your downspout will fit in to. If your hole is large, or your barrel doesn’t have a lid, cover it with a fine plastic screen to prevent debris from entering your collected rainwater.

That’s all there is to it! Although this system is very basic and easy to set up, it’s perfect supplementing your landscape and outdoor water use. Anything you can do to conserve water is good for the environment, and it will save you money on your electric bill, too.

Next Steps

Need suggestions on the best way to approach your rainwater recycling project? Elite Roofing can work with you to assemble a system that will be both effective and integrate with your roof’s primary drainage functions. Please contact us at (201) 436-1011 or via email for further assistance.

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