I did it! When I discovered a crack in one of the plastic fittings on my rain barrel, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to fix it. But today there was no rain in sight, so I dug through stacks of stuff in the garage to find the box where I’d put leftover pieces from when the rain barrels were installed back in 2017. I should mention that David Whitten from the Resilience Hub was the one who first designed and installed the rain barrels, with help from people at our Permablitz. They finished a few of them, and David came back and taught me how to do the rest of them. So this was community at work. Thank you! You can learn more about the whole process at my post from July 2, 2017.
Today, I was happy to see that I had another fitting–I don’t even know what it is called, but it is the black part (attached to the red barrel) of this spigot set-up. One half of this part is on the inside of the barrel, plus a rubber washer, and it reaches through to the outside, where it is attached, so that there can be a leak-free hole in the bottom of the barrel. The white part is taken out for the winter, during freezing temperatures.
I had to take out the spigot once again, detach the hose that tied the rain barrel to its companion, and unhook the wire that helped to hold the gutter spout in place. Then, I unscrewed the top part to make a bigger opening. I emptied the sludgy water from the bottom of the barrel, and while I was at it, rinsed it out with the hose. Now it was ready for the real repair.
I was able to loosen the fitting with a wrench, and unscrew the whole thing–the part on the inside fell away and I turned over the barrel to dump it out. The hardest part was next–reaching all the way to the bottom of the barrel with my head, shoulders and arm inside, to be able to attach the new fitting–one part on the inside through the hole, and then the other part on the outside. I think at the permablitz this was a job for the kids–they are tiny! This was also why I rinsed out all the sludge.
But it worked! I positioned the new fitting, attached its other part on the outside, and then put it all back together again. It is now ready to go for the next rain we get. (I tested it with water from the hose.)
I think I imagined at first that the rain barrels would just last forever–so when something had to be repaired, it was scary to me. I never learned how to do this kind of maintenance stuff when I was a girl. But as I grew older, I was always so glad to learn the things that might not have been thought of as traditionally “female.” That was part of the empowerment of such experiences like Women’s Music Festivals, and the Women’s Peace Camp in the 1980’s. Women were doing all of the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and maintenance work in those places, and we learned we could do it. And that was a big deal. So it still feels thrilling to me when I am able to dive in (literally into the barrel, lol) and make something work!
And I so appreciate those people of any gender who teach and share their skills so we all can have more resilience in our lives. Now, back to the garden!