How To Make A Rain Barrel

Water is a precious resource that people are starting to be more conscious of and many people are learning to use it in more creative ways than ever. One age-old system that many homeowners are returning to in order to use water more considerately is the rain barrel. So I am going to explain the benefits and show you how to make a rain a barrel. 
Rain barrels are exactly what they sound like: barrels that are connected to the downspouts of your gutter system in order to collect rainwater for future use. Though that water is not safe for consumption, it’s great for almost everything else. Washing your car, watering your lawn or gardening are tasks that you will no longer have to spend money on for water. So how do you use one? 

First of all, you need to make sure that your roof and gutter system are in good shape and do not contain any dangerous chemicals. Shingles that are treated with chemicals or contain tar and gravel can add dangerous contaminants to the water you collect, so can gutters that are painted with lead-based paint. So before you install a rainwater collection device, take the time to be sure the surfaces it will run over are safe.

You need to make sure that the top is firmly attached and that there is an adequate screen to keep out leaves, bugs and other interested parties. Sunlight is also the enemy of useful rainwater as it will encourage harmful algae growth within. A spigot at the bottom of the barrel will be the release point for the collected water.

You might be shocked to find out just how much water you can collect! One man found that just one inch of rainfall from a 1,000 square foot roof produces 632 gallons of water. If that sounds like a lot, you might be even more surprised to find out how much water is used every time you water your lawn.

Using the rainwater you collect is an ideal way to water your lawn, but it presents some logistical problems. The easiest way is to empty water from the rain barrel via the spigot into a watering can or similar device and use it that way. If you want to use it to water a garden from which you are going to eat, make sure you always wash your vegetables with tap water first. 

Collecting this water before it can reach the ground is also a great way to reduce the negative effects of runoff on your property. 

Also, if you live in an area with harsh winters, make sure you move the rain barrel indoors before the cold weather hits to avoid cracking.

A single rain barrel can help offset your utility bills, conserve water, and add a healthy, natural element to your lifestyle. You can even make your own. Want to try?

Below is a simple step by step process on how to make a rain barrel. 

Step 1: Choosing your barrel

A standard 55 to 75 gallon plastic barrel with a leaf screen, spout, and overflow valve will set you back between $80 and $200. If you’re more aesthetically inclined, old whiskey and wine barrels look great and are safe to use. They usually cost a few hundred dollars. Garbage cans are also a great, cheap option! Choosing your barrel will be the first step. If you are choosing a plastic barrel make sure it is food grade plastic that is UV-protected. Generally a “good rain” will fill a 55 gallon barrel in a few minutes. 

Step 2: Create a level surface 

You'll need to place your rain barrel on a level surface next to a downspout. The barrel will need to be off the ground, so placing it on cinder blocks is a great option. 

Step 3: Adding a spigot

Drill two holes in your barrel, one 3 inches from the bottom of the barrel to fit a spigot and another hole a few inches from the top of the barrel to attach an overflow adapter.
Screw the spigot into the  hole.

Step 4: Inserting overflow adaptor

Insert the overflow adapter into the hole at the top of the barrel. It should be a tight fit. Then you will want to attach a length of hose to the adapter and use a hose clamp to anchor it in place. The hose should be long enough to extend downhill away from your home's foundation.

Step 5: Adding an extender 

Measure the height of the barrel and cut or disconnect the downspout a few inches above it. 
Attach a flexible downspout extender from the end of the shortened downspout to the rain barrel. Cut a hole in the top of the barrel large enough to fit the extender. Guide the extender through the opening in the lid and attach the lid to the barrel.

Step 6: Filtering the water

To filter the water entering the barrel, you can attach a plastic mesh bag to the end of the downspout extender and hold it in place with a rubber band. Make sure to clean out the mesh bag every so often to prevent clogging. 

I hope this guide on how to make a rain barrel was helpful. It’s a great way to be economically friendly and save some money. I’d love to see your photos!