What is Rain Check?

Rain Check is one of the Philadelphia Water Department’s programs for residents. Through this program PWD helps residents manage stormwater at their homes. Participants can get a rain barrel installed for free and/or get a downspout planter, rain garden or permeable paving installed at a reduced price. Click here for more information!

How do I sign up for Rain Check

Sign-up online to attend a one-hour educational workshop. Everyone who participates in Rain Check must attend a workshop. If you are unsure about which stormwater tool is right for you, try using our Pick Your Project tool to learn more about the different options and how they best fit your home, needs, and budget. After answering a brief set of questions, you can easily proceed to the workshop sign-up form.

What are the benefits of participating in Rain Check?

There are many benefits to participating in Rain Check. Here are a few:

  • Rain barrels are free, and sharing the cost of other landscaping projects offered by Rain Check saves you money.
  • The stormwater tools on your property will filter pollution and manage stormwater runoff that would otherwise end up polluting our creeks and rivers.
  • Simple changes in landscapes can inspire others to also contribute to the solution and motivate neighbors to also install green stormwater management tools.
  • The selected Rain Check plants are low-maintenance landscape options that may also raise property values.
  • Less pavement in our neighborhoods means lower temperatures and more green means more shade. Your participation in Rain Check will positively impact the entire City.

Will participation in Rain Check lower my stormwater bill?

No, participation in Rain Check will not lower your stormwater bill. However, by managing stormwater runoff at home, every resident can make a difference in helping to protect the health of our waterways. Also, reusing water stored in your rain barrel could help you conserve water and lower your usage.

How much will it cost?

Rain Barrels are free. Metal downspout planters cost $100. The cost of other landscaping tools varies depending on the tool and your home. PWD will pay for a portion of the installation cost. Please view our Stormwater Tools page to learn more about the tools and their costs.

Metal downspout planters, rain gardens and masonry projects require at $25 non-refundable deposit in advance of a consultation with the contractor. This deposit goes towards the total cost of your tool.

Full property assessments cost property owners $25. The $25 fee is non-refundable and is not credited towards the installation cost of your tool. However, people who choose a full property assessment will receive a complete report explaining all the options for stormwater management at their homes.

I own multiple properties. Can I sign each property up for Rain Check?

Yes. PWD will provide up to $1,500 per home. All properties must be residential. You may also install a free rain barrel along with any other stormwater tool.

I rent a property. Am I eligible for the program?

Yes. Renters may sign up for Rain Check, but the owner of the property must sign the Stormwater Tool Waiver prior to the installation of the tool.

Can I install more than one stormwater tool per property?

Yes. Rain Check participants can install one rain barrel and one other stormwater tool.

Can I replace the pavement in front of my house?

Rain Check participants cannot replace any part of the public sidewalk in front of their homes through this program. In addition, the Rain Check program is not suitable for publicly-owned alleyways.

Do I need to be concerned about lead in my soil as it pertains to Rain Check?

When you remove concrete or asphalt that has been in place for a long time, it exposes the soil underneath. Learn more about healthy gardening in urban soils here.

How long do assessments and consultations take?

Full property assessments typically take about 1-1.5 hours, and you should plan to be present during that time. The assessor will talk with you and then walk around the outside of your home to see what stormwater tools could work on your property. After the appointment, the assessor will e-mail a completed report that recommends the appropriate stormwater tool or tools for your home.

Consultations with the installation contractor typically take a half hour to an hour. During the consultation, the contractor will discuss the work with you so that he or she can prepare a written cost estimate.

Can I choose which contractor installs my tool?

In most cases, PHS will assign a contractor to your job based on what tool you are installing and your location in the city. However, if you would like to choose the contractor, please review the list of Rain Check contractors and let us know who you’d like to work with. Please note that projects must be assigned by Rain Check staff, so contractors will not be able to schedule visits if you contact them directly. We do not allow you to select your contractor for a rain barrel installation.

Can I get more than one consultation?

Participants may request a second consultation at the $25 price point if necessary. However, we pay for each consultation a homeowner receives so we try to keep this to a minimum. If you wish to get a third consultation, you must pay the full consultation fee of $200.

Can I use my own contractor for the installation?

All installation contractors must be pre-qualified by the Rain Check program prior to joining our contractor network. Interested contractors should contact Jeanne Waldowski at PWD.

How do I maintain my stormwater tool?

Most stormwater tools do not require a lot of maintenance, but there are important things to keep in mind. See below for more information about maintenance for your tool.

Rain Barrel Maintenance Guide (English / Spanish)

Metal Downspout Planter Maintenance Guide (English / Spanish)

Rain Garden Maintenance Guide (English / Spanish)

Permeable Pavers Maintenance Guide (English / Spanish)

How do I order and pay for my tool?

Visit our Place Order page for more information.

Where can I find replacement products (rain barrel nozzle or winter cap, gravel, plants, etc.)?

You can find these products at your at your local big box home improvement store or their website. We recommend calling first to verify they can accommodate your request.

Who do I contact with additional questions?

You can contact Rain Check staff at RainCheck@pennhort.org or (215) 988-8767.

Rain Barrel Questions

What does the rain barrel look like?

Rain Check rain barrels are blue, food-grade, repurposed rain barrels which hold 55 gallons of water. The barrels are purchased and assembled locally reducing our carbon footprint as well as creating jobs for local businesses. All Rain Check rain barrels have a non-removable lid to prevent mosquitoes and to ensure child safety.

What are the dimensions of the rain barrel?

The barrels measure approximately 22 ½ “ in diameter by 36 ½ “ tall. The barrel bows out in the middle to approximately 24” in diameter. Barrels can vary slightly in precise dimensions, but all are 55-gallon capacity.

Do I have to purchase downspout attachments?

The proper attachments are included with the rain barrel.

Do I need a rain barrel platform?

We recommend raising the rain barrel on an elevated base to increase the water pressure needed for hose use. Without a base, barrels can settle into the ground on a soft surface like grass or dirt.

How do I construct a rain barrel platform?

You will need to have the rain barrel platform in place on the day of installation. We recommend purchasing 2-4 cinder blocks and placing them in the location where the rain barrel is to be installed. The platform should be level and no taller than 18 inches. A platform or base may not necessary if the barrel will be installed on a hard surface like cement, although raising the barrel will help increase water pressure needed for hose use.

Can I have more than one rain barrel?

Due to the high demand we can only offer one rain barrel per household.

Can you help me install my rain barrel?

A Rain Check contractor will install your rain barrel for you. Most installations are scheduled at the Rain Check workshops. If you did not schedule your installation at a workshop, email Rosemary Howard at rhoward@pennhort.org to set up an installation time.

Should I be concerned about mosquitoes?

Our rain barrels are fully enclosed, so there is no standing water available for mosquitoes to breed.

What is a soaker hose?

A soaker hose is like a garden hose except designed to be porous and “leak” water down the whole length of the hose. Coil the hose around the base of a large plant you want to water or snake it through your flower beds. When the water is flowing it will slowly soak the ground and go directly to the roots instead of splashing all over the plant. A soaker hose can be attached to your rain barrel with the spigot left slightly open.

How should I maintain my rain barrel?

You will receive an instruction package at the time of install with maintenance information. One of the most important things to do is to drain the barrel in the winter and put in the winterization plug. Don’t forget to empty your rain barrel between storms to maximize collection of stormwater.

What is the timeframe from workshop date to installation of my rain barrel?

Our goal is to have your barrel installed two weeks to one month after you attend a workshop.

Can I paint my rain barrel?

Yes. Personalizing your rain barrel makes a great art project. You can use any outdoor paint. For spray painting, we recommend using a product that specifically advertises that it “bonds to plastic.” For tips on how to paint your rain barrel, follow one of these easy guides:

Downspout Planter Questions

What size is the metal downspout planter?

The metal downspout planter is 2 feet high.

Width x Length | Approximate Storage Volume

2’ x 4’ | 78 gallons

Can I install a downspout planter on my deck?

No. Downspout planters are very heavy once installed. Without fully evaluating the construction of your deck, roof or roof deck, we cannot determine if the structure would support the planter. For this reason we only install downspout planters at ground level.

Can I install a downspout planter on my front sidewalk?

Yes, you can install a downspout planter on your front sidewalk as long as it does not extend beyond your front steps or block the pedestrian right of way and drainage can be conveyed back to the sewer system. Downspout planters cannot drain to the public sidewalk due to the potential of creating ice in the winter.

What are the downspout planters made from?

The metal downspout planter is made of galvanized metal and includes PVC plumbing components.

How do you choose plants for the downspout planters?

Plants will be selected based on the sun conditions you request when placing your order. All plants are drought-tolerant perennial or grass species that should do well with the moisture conditions in the planter. PHS also aims to provide low maintenance, native species when possible. Please note that plants are complementary through Rain Check and specific plant selections are not guaranteed. For species recommendations, see the Downspout Planter Planting Guide.