Make a rain barrel in 7 easy steps
Save precious rain water
Using a rain barrel to collect the rain that falls on the roof of your house can save up to 1,300 gallons of water each summer, according to EPA estimates. Garden and home centers sell ready-made models, but you can build one yourself in just a few hours, for less than $50.
Depending on where you live, more than one rain barrel might be a good idea. For example, a gully-washer rain on the roof of a 4,000-sq.-ft. house will fill up a 55-gallon drum in 10 minutes. Make overflow fittings that connect to a hose and allow the excess water to be diverted into another barrel, or even into your garden or a livestock tank. If you have gutters and eaves on your barn, garage, or other outbuildings, install rain barrels there as well.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
1. Gather your materials
Building a rain barrel is an easy, inexpensive DIY project that anyone can put together in just a few hours. Here's what you'll need:
Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
- 1 large plastic container, such as a garbage can, with a securely fitting lid. The larger the container, the more water you can store.
- 1 tube watertight sealant, or 1 roll of Teflon tape made for plumbing
- 2 rubber washers
- 2 metal washers
- 1 hose clamp
- 1 spigot
- A drill
- A knife or box cutter
- Landscaping fabric
2. Drill a hole
Drill a hole near the bottom of your barrel. This is where the spigot will go, so use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than or the same size as the diameter of your spigot.
If your finished project will be sitting flat on the ground, be sure to place the hole high enough that you can get a watering can underneath it. Ideally, your rain barrel should sit slightly above ground, on cement blocks or a platform. Attaching a hose to your spigot will also allow you to place the hole lower on the barrel and still access all of the water inside, even at ground level.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
3. Prepare your spigot
Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of the spigot. Add a tight-fitting rubber washer over the threads to help hold the metal washer in place and prevent leaks. Choose a spigot with a threaded spout so you can attach a garden hose to it.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
4. Seal it up
Apply waterproof sealant over the rubber washer as shown, and insert the spigot into the hole in your barrel. Once the sealant has dried, run another rubber washer onto the threads of the spigot on the inside of the barrel, followed by another metal washer. Attach a hose clamp onto the inside of the spigot to hold everything in place and keep the spigot from coming loose.
If you prefer, you can use Teflon tape made for plumbing instead of waterproof sealant.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
5. Cut holes in the lid
Carefully cut a hole in the lid of your rain barrel, so it will sit underneath the downspout on your home or outbuilding. It should be positioned so the water will run right into the barrel. Make sure the hole is large enough to accommodate the water flow.
Drill a hole or two near the highest point on your rain barrel's lid, to allow water to overflow if your barrel should become full. To save even ore water, run a hose or PVC pipe from this overflow hole to a second rain barrel. Then if your first barrel fills, the overflow will run into the next barrel.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
6. Top it off
Place landscaping fabric over the top of your barrel, attach the lid, and cut the fabric. This barrier will keep mosquitoes and other pests from getting into your water, and will also help keep it free of leaves and other debris. Keep your eaves and downspouts clean so dirt won't wash into your rain barrel.Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
7. Put it in place
Your rain barrel is ready to use! Place it directly underneath your downspout, in an area where it's convenient for you to use, like near your garden or livestock tank. Set it on a platform if possible so you'll have more water pressure when attaching a hose, and space to work with when filling watering cans. Now just wait for the rain so you can save water and money!Date Published: June 3, 2014Date Updated: June 3, 2014
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