Make your rainwater barrel frost–proof

Water frozen to ice running from a rain flap into a rain barrel

"Water breaks stone" is a saying that refers to the power of freezing water to symbolize the strength of the weak over the strong. However, water can cause not only stone but also large rainbarrels and water butts to burst when temperatures drop below freezing.

The volume of water increases by about 9% when it freezes into ice. Therefore, any above-ground rainwater tank must be protected against frost, if its material can not withstand this load. Even the most beautiful rain barrels will not help if they do not survive the winter.

WISY explains how to keep your existing rain barrel free of ice or what you should consider when purchasing a new one to make it easier for you to prepare for the next winter and to make your rain barrel frost-proof.

Stone broken by frost after snowmelt. "Water breaks stone"

Why you should winterize your rain barrel

Many rain barrels run the risk of being destroyed by frost in winter. When freezing, the stored water expands and causes tension in the material.

Wooden rain barrel next to downspout with rain flap in winter

Plastics become less elastic with decreasing temperatures and are therefore less able to yield to pressure. However, there are differences depending on the type of plastic, more on this below. It is not uncommon for stress cracks to appear on the rain barrel in winter if the material is not designed for this. The cracks are often found

  1. at the level of the water surface, since water freezes from top to bottom, or
  2. at the plastic outlet tap, since comparatively little water is exposed to the temperatures there.

Although the rain barrel can be covered to protect it from brief cold, this does not make above-ground rainwater tanks frost-proof in deep winter frost. So you should winterize your rain barrel.

Tips: How to winterize your rain barrel

Depending on the type of rain barrel, different measures must be taken to protect your rain barrel in winter. The material and thickness are the main factors that determine whether the rain barrel is frost-resistant:

Make thin-walled rain barrels frost-proof

Frozen rainwater in a rusty metal barrel, which gets smashed with a hammer.

Thin-walled rainwater barrels and rain butts made of polypropylene (PP) offer less elasticity, especially in cold temperatures. They crack more quickly in frost. If you do not wish to regularly smash the ice layer, it only helps to empty the rain barrel in time and thus protect it from frost damage.

When emptying the rain barrel, it is best to proceed as follows:.

Blind insert for WISY downpipe filter
  1. Use up collected rainwater or let it run out via the tap. If available, open the drain spout in the lower area. Let the tank run completely empty, if necessary by carefully tilting it. (Caution, water is heavy!)
  2. Leave the discharge tap and any drain plug open
  3. Interrupt or disconnect the connection to the downpipe and cover the water barrel to prevent new rainwater from flowing in. Suitable blind inserts are available for all WISY downpipe filters.

Extra tip: In the rainwater pear you can store garden tools or children's toys over the winter.

Isn't there an easier way to winterize a rain barrel?

Yes! – In actual fact, it is much easier to winterize a rainwater barrel or water butt made of the plastic polyethylene (PE). The material can withstand low temperatures much better than rain barrels made of the above-mentioned polypropylene (PP). A prerequisite for durability is sufficient wall thickness. Only in the case of vulnerable connecting hoses in which the water can remain, we recommend to separate the connection in winter or to interrupt it by a blind insert.

Frost-proof rainwater barrel Stabilix from WISY with downpipe filter, rain barrel connecting hose and drainage tap

Our frost-resistant rainwater barrel Stabilix is made of elastic and physiologically harmless polyethylene. The tank is manufactured in solid wall thickness seamlessly in one piece. This winterproof rain barrel is so stable that it can freeze completely and thaw out again in the spring without damage.

In addition, you do not waste your precious rainwater and immediately start the gardening season in the spring with a filled rainwater storage tank. Your collected rainwater is already waiting for you!

Crocus flowers in spring with little snow in the garden
Krokus im Frühling