A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your roof and can be used to irrigate your vegetable gardens, flowerbeds and container plants. You can buy a rain barrel or make your own. Building your own is simple and inexpensive. Here’s how:
MATERIALS YOU'LL NEED
- Heavy duty clean barrel or container
- ¾’’ plastic spigot and threaded rubber seal
- 1¼’’ hole saw for faucet spigot
- Flexi-Fit rain barrel diverter
- (2) ¾’’ self-tapping screws for the diverter
- 3’ Flexible, accordion style hose and a 11/2’’ rubber seal for water-tight inlet
- 1 ½’’ hole saw for drum inlet hole
- 2 1/8’’ hole saw for the diverter hole in gutter downspout
- Note: Downspout must be a 2x3” or 3x4” rectangular type
TOOLS YOU'LL NEED
- Phillips screwdriver
- Safety gloves
- Safety goggles
- Measuring tape or ruler
CONSTRUCTING YOUR RAIN BARREL
1. Select a location
- Select a location for your rain barrel that is next to a downspout and is close to plants that need water.
- Use cinder blocks, bricks or treated lumber to make a safe, level and stable base.
- A 55 gallon barrel can weigh 400 lbs. so make sure it is level and will not tip over.
2. Mark the barrel and downspout for cutting
- Place the barrel in the intended location.
- Mark the front of the barrel and mark where the fill hose which connects the barrel to the downspout will be positioned at the back, right or left side of the barrel.
- From the front of the barrel, measure up 3’’ from the bottom of the barrel and mark the center for the spigot hole.
- Locate the fill hose mark on the side of the barrel, measure down 3’’ from the top of the barrel and mark the spot for the fill hose.
- Using a straight edge, mark a reference line even with the top of the barrel rim on the downspout.
- For sealed containers measure and mark the center line of the downspout.
- For open top containers: Measure 2.5 inches below the reference line and make a second mark at the center of the downspout to ensure the barrel fills correctly.
- Be sure to measure from an elevated base before cutting the downspout. An elevated barrel will increase water pressure allowing better flow for garden hoses.
3. Install the spigot and rubber seal for flexible hose
- Locate the spigot mark on the barrel.
- Drill a 1¼’’ hole using a hole saw for the spigot.
- Insert the rubber seal into the hole for the spigot. Pinch the threaded rubber seal into a “c” shape before inserting into the barrel.
- Thread the spigot into the rubber seal until the hex collar sits firmly against the seal. Use soapy water or hand lotion on the threads to improve fit.
- Drill a hole using a 1½’’ hole saw for the barrel drain hole.
- Insert the rubber seal into the hole.
4. Install the spigot and rubber seal for flexible hose
- Locate the pre-measured mark on the downspout from Step 2.
- Drill a hole in the center of the downspout using the 2 1/8’’ hole saw
- Cut slow and steady keeping a firm grip on the drill
- Caution! The cut edges can be sharp
- For a 2x3’’ gutter, cut on the 3’’ side. For a 3x4’’ gutter, cut on the narrow 3’’ side.
5. Insert the diverter and fill hose
- Insert the diverter into the hole by squeezing the sides and pushing the diverter straight into the downspout. The cup should be facing straight up.
- Anchor the diverter using the 2 self-tapping screws
- Connect the fill hose into the diverter
- Place the barrel next to the downspout
- Firmly connect the other end of the fill hose to the water inlet on the barrel
Tips for your rain barrel
For every 1,000ft of roof area, 600 gallons of rain can be collected with a 1 inch rainfall!
- Winterize your barrel:
- Disconnect and remove the diverter
- Completely drain the barrel making sure to keep water away from the house foundation
- Remove the diverter and replace with the diverter winter cover or invert the diverter and reinstall.
- Debris from the roof may plug up the rain barrel, if this becomes a problem install debris filters or screens over the gutters.
- If your barrel overflows and water leaks out from the lid check to make sure the barrel is at the correct height and on a stable, level base.
- Multiple rain barrels can be connected to capture more water
- Materials listed can also be purchased as a kit
Special thanks to Sustainable OKC, The Office of Sustainability and Coca Cola