Clogged Spigot and Other Maintenance
Since the spigot is a very simple mechanical device, there usually is very little that can go wrong . . . other than some organic material stuck in the path, or sometimes a small spider will make a nest/web at the bottom of the outlet, preventing or restricting water-flow. Here is a suggestion that usually will fix the problem quickly. Using an adjustable wrench, loosen the 6 sided nut (located right below the spigot handle) by turning left (do not remove the spigot from the barrel). Once completely loose, lift the entire (on/off) handle out of the spigot fixture (You may want to put a small bucket beneath to catch water that will now flow out.). Using a thin wire (coat hanger) orbrush, clear out any debris in the spigot base (go in both directions). Wipe off the washer of the handle assembly (that you’ve removed), then put the handle unit back in place and retighten the nut.
If the barrel is leaking between the metal spigot and the plastic barrel, the best remedy is to turn the spigot counterclockwise and remove from the barrel. Wrap the spigot threads several times with simple Teflon tape (white plumbers tape available at any hardware store for $1.00 or less) then rethread the spigot clockwise into the barrel until reasonably tight. Do not over-tighten as this will expand the plastic and create a similar situation as you are trying to correct. If the spigot still leaks, try again with more tape surrounding the metal threads.
Water Use & Cleaning
Stored rainwater contains properties that plants love. It’s warmer than well-water (plants won’t be shocked during watering), it‘s highly organic (unlike chlorinated municipal water), and it’s collected directly from nature. Keeping this in mind, the collected rainwater is NOT fit for drinking – even though it may appear to be fresh and clean. Rain barrels (and the screens) will collect small amounts of organic material (such as pollen) over time, so for best operation we suggest an occasional cleaning of any screens 2 or 3 times per year. These screens can easily be removed, cleaned and replaced in just minutes to enable optimal water flow in and out of the rain barrel. Some people like to empty the barrel and rinse out before winter begins, as small amounts of fine debris and organic material can accumulate through the course of a year. This material can also add to organic growth inside the (1) add 2 tablespoons bleach to full barrel, or(2) just use the collected/stored water more frequently. You also can reach inside the intake area with a brush to clean the barrel sides if desired. However, you’ll find if rain water is used frequently, cleaning is rarely necessary.
Winter Care in Freezing Climates
If rain barrels are left full during cold spells, they will bulge outward and upward by the pressure of expanding ice. But once thawing occurs, the rain barrel will return to its original shape. We haven’t seen any evidence of damage to plastic rain barrels from winter freezing, so we believe little winter maintenance is required. However, because expanding ice in a full barrel will create powerful stretching, we suggest you partially drain water the rain barrel to relieve the potential pressure of expanding ice during the cold months. (54 gallons does make a pretty large ice cube).
Since a spigot is a very simple mechanical device, there’s very little that can cause a clogged spigot, other than some organic material or a spider web/nest somewhere within the spigot.