Using the Water You’ve Collected in Rain Barrels

If you have rain barrels, what is the best way to use the water captured in them?  With the monsoons upon us (yay!), it’s time to deal with water captured in rain barrels.

There are two major uses for Canale Catchers®: diverting water away from a problem area where water from canales collects, such as a wall, deck, portal or sidewalk; or capturing the water in your rain barrel for later use.

How do you use the rain barrel water most effectively? In order to determine this, let’s look at the amount of water can you expect to collect. I’ll use round numbers to make it easier for you to calculate the amounts for your house.

For a 1,000 square foot roof, with 5 canales: A 1” rainfall will produce 83 cubic feet of water, which is 623 gallons, divided by 5 canale drains.  This is about 125 gallons per canale. This amount of rain will cause the rain barrels to overflow.

The popular rain barrel size is about 60 gallons, and with a spigot about 9” off the ground, you probably have about 50 gallons of useable water available without too much trouble. So, anything more than 0.4” of rain, and it’s overflowing. And that assumes each canale drains equally, which is never the case. I have found that anything more than ¼” of rain will fill my four “top producing” rain barrels , and the rest of my barrels will be about half full. So, you can see that with the monsoons you should stay on top of keeping your rain barrels available to catch the water.

So what can you do with the rain barrel water?  Watering house plants is one idea, but that’s a lot of houseplants! Draining the water through a hose is another idea, but that may cause erosion if you drain it to bare dirt. A third idea is using a lawn sprinkler head to slow down the water, or a drip line manifold with drip hose to distribute water to individual plants. With daily rains, you can see you’ll need a plan, and probably a few more hoses to utilize the water effectively, and continue to capture more. It’s not a ton of work, but you should be prepared to stay ahead of it.

With a little bit of planning, you can keep your yard watered using the runoff from the monsoons.

Connecting to a Downspout

Canale Catcher Blog, January 2020

Face it, for a Canale Catcher to work well, it needs to be connected to a downspout.

I have a confession to make: I hate working with downspouts, or at least I used to.  They’re a hassle to join together, and it took me all kinds of effort, occasional cuts, and plenty of bad language to fit them together.  But now I’m using a tool that makes it a breeze to fit downspout sections together: a hand crimper.  I found mine at Home Depot, and Amazon carries a number of different brands. Other places may carry them, although I suspect they’re kind of a specialty item.  I got a Malco Redline 5-blade crimper, and it works great, but other brands look they’d work as well.  They’re a bit pricey (~$35) for just a few uses, but it makes the job go a lot easier.  To use them, place the two-blade jaw inside the downspout section you want to put inside (the male piece), centered over the corner, so one of the three-bladed jaw sections contacts the center of the corner.  Crimp the corner, and fully insert the crimper and use the full jaw to crimp again.  Repeat on all four corners.  It looks great, and more importantly: it works great! There’s a YouTube video (of course!) that shows the process as well: .



Spring is here

This isn’t going to be about Canale Catchers®, but about other stuff that’s related. When was the last time you were up on your roof? Not peering across it, but actually on top of it, looking around. If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to get up there and take a good look around. This is a great time of year to get up there, it’s warm, but not hot, and it’s not too bad to be working up there for a few hours.
Many, many years ago I was talking to a roofer, and asked him if he had any advice for a homeowner. He said to go up on your roof every year with a bucket (gallon) of roof goop (asphalt patch or similar) and look for places to use it, as well as just looking at the roof. Seal cracks in the roof and roofing tar with the roof goop. The first time you do this you’ll probably run out of goop. The second year you may have some left over, and after that you may struggle to use it. That’s a good thing! Cracks are bad. Cracks are where water can get in. Pay particular attention to the areas around canales and corners. Anything that looks like a crack is fair game. Apply the goop with a 3” or 4” disposable spatula, smear it around the area, feather the edges, and think about where water wants to flow. Don’t make ponding or puddling opportunities. You want all the water to flow off your roof, and preferably into Canale Catchers®.
After patching all the roof cracks, its time to look at the parapet stucco. Cracks in the parapet stucco let in water, which in the winter will freeze, expand, and widen the crack and cause further damage. To patch small cracks (up to about 1/8”, use color coat that matches the stucco. Some home building supply companies can help you get a gallon or two that matches your stucco color. It may take them a week or two to get the color mixed, so grab a piece to match and take it down. I’ll talk about stucco patching in another post.

What Should I Do About Rain Barrels in the Winter?

Now is a good time to take down any water barrels.  Freezing may cause them to crack, and at over $100 each, that can get expensive in a hurry.  I drain any remaining water onto trees so they can get one last drink before winter.  I rinse mine out a bit, totally drain them, and put them on their sides in an out-of-the way place in my yard where they won’t blow away. Rotate the barrel to put the drain valve up or high on the side (between 9 and 3 o’clock) so water won’t fill it and crack it.  If you were using hoses connected to the drain valve, drain them and store them inside the barrel.

Rather than letting the water splash where the rain barrel was, and assuming you have downspouts to direct water to your rain barrels, get a length of downspout and connect that to the existing downspout elbow and direct the water away from your house.  If this is your first time cutting downspout, you can cut downspout with a hacksaw.

If you had issues last winter with canales draining onto patios, sidewalks, or driveways and creating ice hazards (oh wait, we didn’t get enough snow in Santa Fe to have problems!), now is a good time to set up a Canale Catcher©  on problem canales.  If you wait until you have ice problems it’ll be too dangerous to set up a ladder.