Why You Should Install a Rain Barrel Downspout Diverter Kit

How to install a rain barrel downspout diverter kit, why you need one, and where to by them

Updated: July 25, 2023
Jeremiah Zac


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Rainwater harvesting is an excellent means of conserving and utilizing water by harnessing an element of the earth’s hydrologic cycle: rainfall.

The rain barrel provides harvesters with an effective way to store gallons of rainwater for later use.

While rain barrels come in various shapes and sizes, smaller rain barrels tend to overflow more quickly, causing spillage and flooding in the immediate vicinity.

A rain barrel diverter allows for the overflow of water to continue through the downspout when the rain barrel fills up and also allows leaves and other debris to avoid clogging up the barrel.

This Article Will Discuss:

  • How Rain Barrel Diverters Work
  • How to Install a Rain Barrel Diverter
  • Troubleshooting Guide
  • Best Rain Barrel Diverter Kits Available for Purchase

Editor's Choice for Best Rain Barrel Diverter Kit

  • Fits 2" x 3" Downspout
  • UV-Resistant PVC Plastic
  • 4ft. Hose

The Oatey Mystic rain barrel diverter kit is well-designed, easy-to-install kit for rainwater harvesting. Read our review at the end of the article.

Read Reviews on Amazon


What is a Rain Barrel?

elevated barrels

Rain barrels are designed to capture and store rainwater by utilizing a flat surface – oftentimes, a roof – to collect rain as it falls. The water then falls into the gutter, which is channeled directly into the rain barrel

A rain barrel may come in various sizes, but a typical rain barrel for a household will be around 55 gallons. While the material may also vary, the most common and most practical are those constructed of polyethylene plastic.

Many rain barrels have additional features such as an overflow valve which allows for additional barrels to be connected, or a mesh screen for blocking debris. In order to avoid having to constantly clean the mesh screen for blockage or configure an additional rain barrel for overflow protection, installing a downspout diverter would be quite practical.

Read Our Related Article:
How to Properly Filter Rainwater

How Rain Barrel Diverters Work

diverter / doityourselfdad / youtube

A typical rain barrel is set up so that the rainwater flows directly into the top of the rain barrel via the downspout. For regions with average rainfall, the contents of the rain barrel will most likely be regularly used before it begins to overflow with more rain. Debris from the downspout can be regularly cleaned when the mesh screen begins to clog.

For regions with heavier rainfall, having a downspout that leads directly into the rain barrel might not be as practical due to quick overflow and due to the quick accumulation of leaves and debris. A rain barrel diverter works by allowing the downspout to continue downward toward the ground level, where rainwater and debris can be discharged at the proper location when the rain barrel is full.

  • Traditional Downspout

    downspout / ian mackenzie / flickr

  • Rain Barrel With Diverter

    diverter / kolforn / wiki commons

The diverter kit is installed about mid-way on the downspout, just above the top of the rain barrel, to allow gravity to move water downward. An inlet within the diverter allows for water to travel through a hose which leads directly into the rain barrel. The inlet is large enough for sufficient rainwater to flow through but too small for leaves or debris to fit in.

When the rain barrel fills up with rain water, the diverter guides the excess water to continue through the downspout instead of the inlet. Excess water and debris flow through the downspout and out at the ground level, typically near a storm drain. This avoids clogging and overflow around the base of the rain barrel.

Benefits of a Rain Barrel Diverter

1. Overflow Protection

Especially in areas with heavy rainfall, rain barrels can overflow and cause spillage around the base of the rain barrel. If there is no drainage within the immediate area, unexpected flooding can occur.

A rain barrel diverter allows excess rainwater to flow out of the downspout as designed and towards a more flood-prepared area, such as a storm drain. This also eliminates the need for an overflow valve and need for an additional rain barrel.

2. No Clogging of Debris in the Downspout

A rain barrel diverter directs debris, such as leaves and twigs, through the downspout and away from the rain barrel. A rain barrel without a diverter would require constant removal of debris from the rain barrel’s mesh screen. Otherwise, it will easily clog. The diverter's elbow should be checked periodically for small leaves and debris in case of blockage.

3. Reduces Risk of Mosquitos

A rain barrel diverter creates a closed system where stagnant water isn’t exposed to the open air. A rain barrel without a diverter presents the risk of mosquitos entering the rain barrel.

How to Install a Rain Barrel Diverter

diverter / doc at home / youtube

Most downspout gutters are rectangular in shape and come in either 2” x 3” or 3” x 4” sizes. Selecting the correctly sized diverter for your downspout will be critical in ensuring proper function.

It is also important to consider the placement of the rain barrel in relation to the downspout diverter. The rain barrel should be elevated enough off the ground so that water can flow freely from the bottom spigot, while the diverter itself should still be higher than the rain barrel.

When the proper placement has been determined, the following instructions can be followed for installing the rain barrel diverter. Each diverter kit will have its own unique instructions specific to that design, but the overall process is mostly universal.

downspout / learning self-reliance / youtube

downspout / learning self-reliance / youtube

diverter / learning self-reliance / youtube

diverter / learning self-reliance / youtube

  1. Locate the proper section of the downspout where the diverter will be inserted. This will typically be several feet off of the ground and higher than the top of the rain barrel.

  2. Mark off a segment of the downspout to be extracted. This is typically less than a foot in length, depending on the size of the diverter. Be sure to check with the diverter kit for the exact length.

  3. Cut out the designated segment of the downspout with a hacksaw.

  4. Place the diverter kit in the gap of the downspout connecting both the top and bottom portions of the downspout to the diverter. Make sure the entire unit is secure.

  5. Connect the hose to the inlet on the side of the downspout.

  6. Connect the opposite end of the hose to the overflow valve on the rain barrel. Ensure there are no kinks in the hose.

Video: How to Install a Diverter Kit

Watch this great instructional video by DoItYourselfDad on how to install a rain barrel diverter kit.


Rain Barrel Fills Slowly

If the rain barrel isn't filling as quickly as it should despite the amount of rainfall coming down the gutter, several factors may be in play.

  1. The hose may be kinked at some sections. Be sure to check the entire length of the hose to loosen any kinks or remove blockage.
  2. The diverter might not be installed high enough for gravity to pull water into the rain barrel. Check with the manufacturer for the recommended height setting.

Rain Barrel Overflows with Water

If the rain barrel still overflows with water even with a diverter installed, the diverter might not be installed correctly. Check to see that the diverter kit is properly fitted and that both ends of the hose are secure. Also, check the rain barrel itself to see if leakage may be due to damage or cracks.

Mosquitos Are Entering the Rain Barrel

The closed system that a rain barrel diverter provides allows protection from mosquitos. If mosquitos manage to find a way into the rain barrel, the seal has been breached. Check the hoses to make sure they're closed properly. Check the rain barrel's lid to make sure there are no gaps. Cover and secure the mesh screen if there is one.

Best Rain Barrel Diverter Kits

Various models of rain barrel diverter kits can be purchased and integrated into any rainwater harvesting system. These diverter kits are designed to be installed into the downspout to direct rain flow into the barrel. Kit size is dependent on the width of the downspout.

Our Top Choice

  • Fits 2" x 3" Downspout
  • UV-Resistant PVC Plastic
  • 4ft. Hose


The Oatey Mystic rain barrel diverter kit is well-designed, easy-to-install kit for rainwater harvesting. Made of UV-resistant PVC plastic, the diverter kit fits onto standard 2" x 3" rectangle downspouts. It comes with a 4 foot hose which attaches from the inlet to the barrel. The kit comes in white and can be easily painted to match any color.

The built-in reservoir channels water from the inner walls of the downspout and through the hose. When the rain barrel fills up, excess water travels down the downspout along with leaves and other debris.

  • Fits 2" x 3" and 3" x 4" Downspouts
  • 3 Year Warranty


The Rain Barrel DiverterPro by Fiskars features a unique design in diverting rain flow into the rain barrel while keeping debris away from it. Its patented design allows for improved rainwater capture during heavy rainfall. It comes with a connection hose and fits both 2" x 3" and 3" x 4" sizes.

  • 3" x 4" Downspout
  • DIY Rain Barrel Kit


The Earth Minded rain barrel diverter kit comes with all the supplies necessary to create a rain barrel system out of any plastic container. Comes with a diverter kit for 3" x 4" downspouts as well as all the parts needed to create a rain barrel. Includes spigot, water seals, hole saw, drain and cover, and fill hose.

The Flex-Drain colander kit attaches to 3" x 4" downspouts. White plastic can be painted to match any color. Requires hose.

  • Fits 2" x 3" and 3" x 4" Downspouts
  • DIY Rain Barrel Kit


This rain barrel kit by Aquabarrel includes a diverter kit as well as all the materials needed to create a rain barrel system. With a clean, plastic container, an efficient rain barrel system can be created for collecting rain water.


Rain barrel diverter kits allow for rain water to be diverted through the downspout when the rain barrel fills up with water, preventing unnecessary overflow of the barrel. It also allows for the bypassing of debris and leaves so that the barrel's mesh screen doesn't clog up. In addition, because of its closed system, rain barrel diverters prevent mosquitos from entering and finding a home in the rain barrel.

Installing a rain barrel diverter is a straightforward process and requires finding the right kit that fits the downspout dimensions. Downspouts are typically 2"x 3" or 3" x 4" in measurement. The diverter is inserted into a segment of the downspout.

While there are several different manufacturers for rain barrel diverters, all with varying shapes and sizes, they all serve the same purpose.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article on rain barrel downspout diverter kits. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. If you've found this article to be useful and are interested in learning more, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

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Do It Yourself, D. (2010, February 3). How to Make a Downspout Diverter. Retrieved from https://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-make-a-downspout-diverter

Family Handy Man. (2019, March 20). Rain barrel diverters protect your foundation from overflows. Retrieved from https://www.familyhandyman.com/diy-advice/rain-barrel-diverters-protect-your-foundation-from-overflows/

Instructables. (2011, May 16). Rain Barrel and Diverter. Retrieved from https://www.instructables.com/id/Rain-Barrel-and-Diverter/

The Rain Barrel Depot. (2015, November 15). Why Your Next Rain Barrel Should Have a Diverter. Retrieved from https://www.therainbarreldepot.com/blog/why-your-next-rain-barrel-should-have-a-diverter/

I'm Jeremiah, the owner of World Water Reserve. I'm a writer and researcher with a particular interest in sustainability and rural living, water scarcity, and innovative water purification methods. I utilize my multimedia and communication experience in the NGO and humanitarian fields to bring light to important topics. My passion is to educate others on the reality of the global water crisis and on ways to sustain themselves and their families in the midst of it.
Jeremiah Zac