DIY Rain Barrel Project


DIY Rain Barrel

RainBarrelsDIY Rain BarrelsNot only is rain water better for your garden plants, flowers, lawn and fish ponds than chlorinated tapwater, but by using rain water you also save money. Plus you reduce the water that heads into the local storm sewers, gathering various chemicals and oils along the way. Making a rain barrel is one of the easier and faster do-it-yourself projects that you can perform. A quarter-inch of rain falling on the average home roof can yield a little over 200 gallons of water. A rain barrel can be filled within a matter of minutes during a good rain. Obviously we'll need to consider an overflow spout!

Steps to Build a Rain Barrel

  1. You'll need 1 or 2 (or more) large plastic barrels/drums - often called 55 gallon drums. Look for used plastic barrels from a local food handler, or environmental group. Make sure the drums did not hold chemicals in a prior life. rainbarrels joined together
  2. Find a good down spout. You'll need room to setup one or two of the large barrels, on top of some cement blocks or another small platform. Find a low traffic area, and maybe a spot that is not in direct eye sight.
  3. Supplies: for 2 rainbarrels
    1. 1 - 2 inch sump pump drain hose. - cost $8 at Home Depot and comes with the spout attachment and a 2 inch clamp.
    2. 2 - 2 inch spouts. $3 each
    3. 2 - 2 inch clamps. $.89 each
    4. flexible downspout attachment - $12
    5. joiner for downspout. $3
    6. small pump to empty barrels OR a tap
  4. For 2 Rainbarrels follow these steps. For a single rainbarrel skip to step 10. Place the barrels by therain barrels connected to down spout downspout such that the flexible hose will reach between the downspout and one of the barrels. Drill a 2 inch hole 3 or 4 inches up from the bottom of each barrel. Thread the 2 inch plastic spout into the hole and caulk the joint as it fits up tight against the barrel. These 2 spouts will be joined together, to equalize the water levels in the 2 barrels.
  5. If you are NOT using a pump to empty the barrels, you'll want to attach a 3/4 inch faucet (tap). Assuming you are using a 3/4 inch plastic faucet, make a hole slightly smaller than 3/4 inch, near the bottom of the barrel (up 3 or 4 inches).
  6. If using a tap, place the barrels on a couple of cement blocks (cinder blocks). This gives you room to get a bucket/pail, under the faucet/tap. And also gives you more water pressure.
  7. If the top of the barrel is open, cover it with window screening and fasten (with bungee cords). If the top is not open, it likely has a 2 or 3 inch fitting that can be removed. If none exists, you'll need to drill or cut a 3 inch hole in the top of the barrel. Connect the small end of the flexible hose to the 3rainbarrles-joined-equalized inch opening in the top of the barrel. I used a 1 inch metal screw to keep it in place.
  8. Cut the down spout about a foot, above the rain barrel and attach the other end of the flexible hose to down spout. You can insert a screen in the large end of the flexible pipe if you have leaves in your eaves. All my nearby trees are evergreens.
  9. Cut a 2 inch hole very close to the top of the last barrel and on a side that will allow you to run an overflow pipe away from your house foundation. Attach the 2 inch spout and the 2 inch drain pipe.


rainbarrel overflow cut down spout rainbarrel connected with pump

Rain barrel water pump


Note:the 2 barrels pictured at the top, are connected to a small porch which allows for the smaller tube to equalize the water. I use a small pump to empty the barrels onto the lawn and gardens as required.


I also like this video from Penn State that demonstrates the above instructions



Variations to the Rain Barrel


I use a very inexpensive pump, withgarden hose input and outputs, to pump the water onto my lawn. You can raise the height of the rain barrels to increase the water pressure (head) also. However, water weightsrain-barrels-in-winter-storage roughly 10 pounds per gallon so a 55 gallon tank could weight over 500 pounds when full. If raising the height of your rain barrels, make sure the supporting structure can hold the weight.

Winter Storage

If you live in an area when water freezes in the winter, make sure you remove the down spout from the rain barrels and reroute the water. I use a flexible 4 inch pipe for the barrels on my kitchenette. For the barrels connected to the main roof, I reconnect the down spout using the $3 connector from Home Depot. Then make sure the rain barrels are emptied.I store my barrels on their side for the winter to ensure there is no water inside to freeze and cause damage.

Winter storage - notice pipe connected to downspout




HOME       BLOG       Privacy Policy       Terms Of Use       SiteMap

Copyright 2013, - All rights reserved