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My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Posted by johnsaunt 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 14, 10 at 12:02

I don't know if this is the right forum, but I figured that anyone with a rain barrel is probably a composter.

The water in my barrel stinks! I have a screen over the inflow hole, so I know I don't have any dead critters in it. But that's kind of what it smells like.

Any solutions, other than holding my breath while I fill the watering cans?

Thanks, Ginny


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Stagnant water, that is the water in your rain barrel, can over time develop a putrid odor. That would be from the algae that builds up in stagnant water. Empty the barrel and flush it really good and when it fills up again use the water out of it sooner then you have been. You might want to consider putting an aerator in the barrel to reintroduce some air into the water.
Depending too on what was the original purpose of the barrel that could be contributing some to the odor.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Effective microorganisms.

Here is a link that might be useful: EM


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Put a 3-inch layer of compost in the bottom and aerate.

You're not drinking the water are you?

You might also try using a quarter of a Mosquito Dunk. Those things do more than just kill mosquitoes.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Thanks for the suggestions. Washing the rain barrel is sort of counter productive since I'm using it to save water. In that respect, it's working really well -- just about the time the barrel is nearly empty, we get more rain & it fills up within an hour. And I'm not sure about the compost idea since the spigot is so close to the bottom, I think the compost would block the flow. Also the aeration would involve electricity, which is something I try to use sparingly. (Plus I'd have to buy the aeration equipment.)

I'll look into the microorganism link. But in the meantime, I'll try a piece of the mosquito dunk. And if that doesn't work, I'll just go back to holding my breath!


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

You will hold your breath for reasons pennies will solve.
That would be a cap full of EM allso good for anyplace you would use that water.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Add a 1/4 cup of clorox to the barrel. It should fix any odor problems, and it will be so diluted that it won't be harmful to your plants.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

A putrid odor emitting from any substance could indicate anaerobic processes, processes done in the absence of air. When the bacteria that are anaerobic are present often they are also disease pathogens. Putrid odors are never a good thing and indicate potential problems.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

If your gutters have leaves or other organic materials, they are washed into the rain barrel and they are anaerobically decomposing in there at the bottom ... stinking up the barrel.

Dump it, wash it, and in the future, clean it out more frequently. Some way of preventing leaves and bugs from getting in the barrel would be good.


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EM Ceramics

I found this thing amazing.
Just put ceramics in the bottom and no problem for many years.

Here is a link that might be useful: EM Ceramics for water purification.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

I too have found Ginny the barrel smells. I also agree to wash it out is defeating the purpose. For me, I have my barrel up on cinder blocks, 4 In fact. This keeps the nosel away from the ground. It also allows the water to come out at a better speed. I emptied my today( using the water) and left the nosel open. I have just tilted for the sake of draining it... With it left open it allow air to flow from the top where the screen is out.
Hope it helps


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

I keep my rain barrels in pairs at each downspout. Mine sometimes smell bad as well. When one does, I just use it all in one barrel more frequently, then switch to the other, using it all. It just comes from organics in the water, algea growth, etc. Doesn't hurt anything.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

Your rain barrel never gets empty? It only takes a few minutes to swish it out, rinse with a hose, maybe scrub the bottom with a corn broom to loosen the gunky coating. I will bet there is a good layer of sediment and leaves down in there.


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RE: My rain barrel smells AWFUL!

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 3, 14 at 20:00

I'm with tox, clean it out. Dump the water in the garden so as not to waste it. Don't let gunk build up at the bottom and go anaerobic.


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