Rain Check Frequently Asked Questions

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 porous paving installed at a reduced price.

Visit our webpage, www.phillywatersheds.org/raincheck to sign-up online to attend a workshop. Everyone who participates in Rain Check must come to a workshop.

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.

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.

Rain Barrels are free. 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.


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.

Yes. PWD will provide up to $2,000 per home. All properties must be residential. You may also install a rain barrel along with any other stormwater tool.

PHS Customer Information Services at PHS-info@pennhort.org or (215) 988-1698.

Technical questions can be forwarded to the Rain Check staff at RainCheck@pennhort.org.

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.

Yes. Rain Check participants can install one rain barrel and one other stormwater tool. If you'd like to install additional tools, you can, but PWD will not pay more than $2,000 towards the total installation cost.

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.

All installation contractors must be pre-qualified by the Rain Check program prior to joining our contractor network. Interested contractors should contact Jacob Feinberg (jacob@sbnphiladelphia.org<) at the Sustainable Business Network for more information.

Stormwater 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.

Visit our Stormwater Tool Order page for more information.

What size are the downspout planters?
Note: These measurements do not include the trim around the top of the planter which adds approximately 2” to each side of the box. In addition, all boxes are 2’ high. The final height of the box will be greater once it is placed on blocks.

w x l Storage Volume
1.5' x 3' 18 gallons
1.5' x 4' 24 gallons
2' x 2' 16 gallons
2' x 4' 32 gallons


Can I install a downspout planter on my deck?
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.


What are the downspout planters made out of?
Our planters are built out of pressure-treated lumber, lined with EPDM pond liner, and finished with PVC plumbing components.


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. PWD is evaluating the possibility of this in the future.

What is the rain barrel like?
PWD rain barrels are blue, food-grade, recycled 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.

What are the dimensions of the rain barrel?
The barrels measure at 22 ½ “ in diameter by 36 ½ “  tall.  The barrel bows out in the middle to approximately 24” in diameter.

Do I have to purchase downspout attachments?
The proper attachments are included with the rain barrel.

Do I have to purchase a rain barrel platform?
We recommend you purchase or construct your own platform, which is to be no higher than 18”. You will need to have it in place on the day of installation (i.e. cinder blocks, bricks, wood, etc.)

Why do I need a rain barrel platform?
Raising the rain barrel will increase the water pressure needed for hose use.  Also, it provides room to place a watering can under the spigot.

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 Zach Popkin at zpopkin@pennhort.org to set up an installation time.

Should I be concerned about mosquitos?
Our rain barrels are fully enclosed, so there is no standing water available for mosquitos 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.

What is the timeframe from workshop date to install date?
Our goal is to have your barrel installed two weeks to one month after you attend a workshop.

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.

Downspout Planter
Rain Garden
Permeable Pavers

Rain Barrel