Leaking (rainwater) water barrels

We have several ~55G plastic (almost nylon-ish?) barrels in which we collect rainwater. They were originally used to hold detergent or bleach or some other agent used to wash clothing, linens, etc. (rescued from a local hospital's "laundry" as they are routinely discarded, intact).
Most recent rainfall filled them all, again (I'd assumed we were *done* for the year -- though I've assumed that for each of the last three storms! :< )
But, one barrel obviously has a leak. Over time, it's now down to just a few inches in the bottom of the barrel. So, we know the leak is at or below the current water level. I don't imagine any *other* leaks are present as I'd been "feeling" the exterior sides for signs of moisture and never found any.
I *suspect* the leak is inthe actual bottom end of the barrel; the reason it has slowed/stopped is possibly because the leak is fine enough that hydrostatic pressure at this low level is just not enough to push much water out through the crack (recall any sediments in the water will tend to want to *fill* the crack thus further impeding flow).
As the suspected location is on the bottom, the only approach I can think of to locate that would be to elevate the barrel on an "open frame", keep it level (so water comes out from the crack and doesn't cling to the underside of the barrel to find another path to ground) and fill it with water -- perhaps even putting some color in the water (e.g., Miracle Grow would give it a bright blue color and not be inconsistent with the intended use of that water -- if I never managed to clean the MG out, completely).
[The barrel has an open mouth so I can't just "plug up the inlet" and pressure test it]
Any other suggestions to locate the leak?
Is caulking compound (on the interior) likely to be a permanent solution? Or, an epoxy? Or, just toss the barrel (we'd have to wait for a biannual special pickup to discard something of this size -- unless I dragged out a sawzall and diced it up!) and go pick up another from the laundry?? (which is also tedious as they are large and have remnants of nasty liquids in them before you get them home and clean them)
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Don Y wrote:

We have quite a few collecting rain water for use in the garden and flower pots. Empty it turn it up side down to find where/how it leaks. There is compatible welding glue(epoxy) you can apply after sanding the area lightly for better bonding. They are not that heavy.
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On 9/25/2015 5:36 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

How do I locate a leak (other than visually) in that orientation? I was assuming to fill it and watch for drips -- coloring the water to make the leaks more readily located.

But, on the *outside*? I'd assume the inside would be a better spot: water in the barrel will push *on* the patch (instead of pushing it out of the way). Likewise, the wear and tear on the outside (as the barrels get moved around at the start/end of the rainy season) would be greater than on the inside.
It would be a bit claustrophobic reaching that far into the barrel to apply the "patch". But, it's wide enough for my shoulders and upper torso (I'd obviously lay the barrel on its side to make it easier to access)

They are primarily bulky, not heavy. I can tumble it end-over-end to get it upside down. OTOH, I wonder if this sort of thing is what has led to the leak (I have to physically dump them to ensure the last bits of water drains to prevent mosquito breeding -- so I leave the barrels upside down when I dump them)
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Don Y wrote: ...

blotter paper, tissue paper, just press it along the area in question until it shows moisture, but it may be the case that you have more than one leak so check the whole seam.
there is marine grade epoxy you can get that is a putty, but perhaps it would crack if the barrel is flexible... hmm, might want to use a marine grade silicone caulk instead, yes, applied to clean surface inside over the area of the discovered leak.
songbird
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On 9/26/2015 8:08 AM, songbird wrote:

This is the underside of a barrel. It obviously won't leak if upside down. So, I need to elevate the barrel in such a way that I can *see* the underside (or, "blot it")
Barrels are ~2' dia x 3' tall. So, I'd have to support it along the circumference -- or, the "sides" parallel to the seam (assuming the seam is where the leak lies). And, still be able to get under it to see what's going on.

I'll scrub the barrel this afternoon (get rid of the dirt/sediment stains so I have a uniform surface to examine). Then, see what I can find to reliably support it "as high as possible" (not keen on having to put my cheek on the ground in the *hope* of seeing what's under it!)
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I have two trash barrels that I use to hold water so I can flush the toilet during a power outage when my well pump isn't working.
One has had a leak for the past few years. I just emptied it and put a 39 gallon lawn/leaf bag in it, folded it over the outside of the barrel and secured it with a couple pieces of duct tape. Bag needs replacing every few years as plastic deteriorates.
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On 9/26/2015 10:50 AM, KenK wrote:

Yes, but you keep those full all the time (and covered, presumably)? When in use ("deployed"), these wait for rain, fill up and are then emptied in the ~3 days following the rainfall (to avoid standing water). This repeats as often as we have rain -- regardless of whether the barrels fill completely or only partially.
It's not possible to empty them completely with siphon or submersible pump. So, they get tipped over to dump the last bits of rainwater out (so they *will* be bone dry before the skeeters find them!)
At the end of Monsoon, they get stored in a side yard, upside down (to ensure some "freak" precipitation doesn't result in standing water in any of them -- that I'd not notice as I don't make a habit out of "inspecting" that side yard)

I don't think that would work. Pump would suck the bag into the impeller (how do *you* empty it?). Tipping the barrel over (to empty it completely) would cause the bag to flop out (I guess some double-sided tape near the bottom of the barrel could minimize this problem).
I think I could slather some adhesive on the inside of the bottom and install a patch, there. Given the length of time that the barrel takes to empty, I can't imagine I'd need a very *robust* patch -- just something that presents a slightly greater impediment to the water exiting.
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In use to flush I just dip out water with a pail.

Yes. Not that difficult to put back in. I rarely empty it. Dip out alga as needed with a pail.

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On 9/28/2015 10:46 AM, KenK wrote:

Understood. We empty all of the buckets shortly after each rainfall to prevent mosquito larvae from developing. Barrels are always "uncovered" (I assume you keep a lid on your while in "storage mode"?)
Have you considered backup power source for well pump -- even if something you "manually" engage?

But, you keep *water* in yours (covered, presumably). When empty, we want ours to be bone dry within a few hours (or a day, max). I'm not sure how that would work with a "still wet" liner -- wouldn't the plastic tend to cling to itself and not "remain open" to air out?
So far, no (dry inspection) evidence of leak source. I'll have to put the barrel "up on blocks" and see what it does with water in it.

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email.me:

I can only think of a generator. But that's awfully expensive for a very rare event. In the past 30 years, once for about three days, once a day or so, and a few dozen for a few hours. For comfort inside I use a 12V deep discharge battery, a fan and a light.
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On 9/29/2015 9:43 AM, KenK wrote:

I don't know how big (electrical load) the pump is. But, was thinking you could use something like an inverter (even one repurposed from a UPS?). If the load was small enough (hundreds of VA), you could find a little UPS/inverter that was powered from a 12V source (like those your deep discharge battery is powering).
Then, in a prolonged event, you could use the battery *in* your vehicle to power the inverter/UPS -- and, periodically run the vehicle to recharge the battery (this is predicated on your power needs being small/infrequent -- turn pump on for a minute or so, then turn it off. Repeat. After a while, run the vehicle for a short time to top off its battery before continuing.
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On Friday, September 25, 2015 at 2:24:20 PM UTC-4, Don Y wrote:

Empty the barrel, then go out at night with a flashlight. Shine the flashlight around in the barrel and see if you can locate the hole that way. You might need a helper or a mirror for this.
Paul
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On 9/29/2015 1:29 PM, Pavel314 wrote:

The "crack" (it's definitely not a "hole" -- more likely a split along the seam where the two halves are "welded" together) is just not obvious. I've gone so far as to try to mechanically stress the bottom surface in the vicinity of the seam in the hope of causing it to open up ("gape") with no luck (bottom of barrel is very thick plastic so it doesn't readily deform).
Rain expected (again! <frown>) this weekend so I'm waiting for that to pass -- which *shouldn't* have come in the first place this late in the season!
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On Friday, September 25, 2015 at 2:24:20 PM UTC-4, Don Y wrote:

Just buy a can of that 'as seen on tv' crap and spray the bottom. The crap to seal gutters and boat bottoms.
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On 9/30/2015 10:04 AM, Thomas wrote:

I want to understand why/where the failure is occurring so I can determine if the *other* barrels are likely to fail in a similar manner and if there is something associated with my usage/handling that is causing the failure. Not keen on repeating the problem (which costs me a barrel of rainwater to *detect*!) if I can avoid it!
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