Build a Rain Barrel
Building your own 55-gallon rainwater collection system using a food-grade plastic container isn't as difficult as it might seem. Here are some pointers.
Note: When using a 55-gallon recycled plastic container, be sure the container only had food-grade materials inside. Do not use a plastic container that was used for housing chemicals.
- 1 - 55-gallon polyethylene plastic barrel. This may be available for free or low-cost from commercial car washes, bottling companies or other food businesses that use liquids.
- 1 - 10-foot length of 2 inch PVC pipe
- 1 - 2-inch PVC elbow
- 1 - 2-inch female threaded by 2-inch PVC elbow
- 1 - 2-inch male threaded by 2-inch pipe adapter
- 1 tube silicone sealer/cement
- 1 - 1/2-inch female threaded silcock (aka outdoor faucet or hose bib)
- 1 - 1/2-inch threaded bushing
- 1 - 1/2-inch female threaded socket
- 1 roll Teflon tape
- 1 - 1-foot-by-2-foot piece of old or new screen fabric
- 1 - 1-gallon plastic bucket, tub or flowerpot
- 4 cinder blocks
- Paint to match your house color (optional).
- Jig Saw
- Power Drill with 3/4-inch Spade Bit
- Pipe Wrench and Pump Pliers
- Hack Saw
- Tape Measure and Level
Inflow - Cut a hole in the top of barrel to allow rainwater to enter the barrel and to access the inside of the barrel.
The hole should be just large enough to snugly fit the 1-gallon plastic bucket, tub or flowerpot. The bucket will be used to support a screen to keep mosquitoes and debris out.
Cut a ¾-inch hole in the bucket.
Spigot - Drill a 3/4-inch hole close to bottom of the 55-gallon barrel. Don't drill the hole too far down inside the barrel where you can't reach it from the access hole on top or else you may need the help of a friend with very long arms.
Put Teflon tape on the 1/2-inch bushing and thread it into the silcock or hose bib. Now carefully thread the other end of bushing into the 3/4-inch hole in bottom of barrel. It should fit snugly in the hole and cut threads in the plastic as you screw it in.
Now unscrew it from the barrel, apply Teflon tape to the threads of the bushing and apply silicone to the outside of the flange on the silcock.
Screw it back into the hole and into a 1/2-inch socket on the inside of the barrel.
Downspout Modification - Prepare the area under the downspout where you want to install the rain barrel.
Remove the old downspout and splash block, and level the area where the barrel will sit. Place the concrete blocks so they are sloped slightly downward away from the house, but make sure the base is secure as a full barrel is heavy and can tip over if set on an uneven base.
Set the barrel on the blocks.
With a hacksaw cut the downspout so it is just long enough to fit into the bucket on top of the rain barrel. You may also desire to attach a “diverter” or “first-flush” diverter to the downspout, and then connect it to your barrel.
You should provide an overflow for water if the barrel fills to the top.
With a jig saw, cut a hole in the side of the barrel large enough to fit the 2-inch male threaded by 2-inch pipe adapter. Place this fitting inside the barrel and thread it into the 2-inch female threaded by 2-inch PVC elbow on the outside of the barrel.
Seal with silicone. Cut a length of 2-inch PVC pipe long enough to reach the ground. Attach a 2-inch PVC elbow to the bottom of this pipe and cut another length of 2-inch pipe to connect to a splash block.