01 Mar 2014

Conserve Well Water with this DIY Rain Barrel

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DIY rain barrel

Example of DIY Rain Barrel

There is something inherently satisfying about self-reliance. Whether you grow and/or hunt your own food, build your own structures, or create your own electricity, being resourceful is a handy skill to have, especially in a pinch.

Water is one of the most important resources on earth. So why not capture some of it naturally? Today, we’re going to show you how to construct your own rain barrel. Rain barrels are great because they are inexpensive, easy to build, conserve well water, and are very versatile implements for properties of all sizes. With warmer weather right around the corner, you can get started now to capture some of those spring showers once they arrive.

Ready to go? Let’s scrounge up some supplies.

DIY Rain Barrel Materials & Tools

  • Barrel – For rain barrels, size matters. Trash cans work well, and 55-gallon drums are also fairly standard. You can use plastic or metal. If you’re salvaging a used barrel, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and never contained toxic material.
  • Spigot
  • Hose clamp
  • Metal washers (2)
  • Rubber washers (2)
  • Waterproof sealant
  • Landscape fabric
  • Platform material (optional)
  • Drill
  • Utility knife

Put it together

Now that you have your rain barrel supplies gathered, drill a hole a few inches above the bottom of your barrel. Make sure the hole is slightly smaller than the spigot you intend to use.

Once the hole is drilled, grab your spigot, as well as a metal and rubber washer. Place the metal washer over the spigot threads and push it all the way on. Then do the same thing with the rubber washer. Make sure both fit tightly around the threading. Now you’ll want to use your sealant and apply it around the rubber washer. Once finished, plug the spigot into the hole. From the inside of the barrel, place another set of rubber and metal washers over the spigot threads, followed by the hose clamp. The idea is to sandwich the 2 rubber washers between the metal washers to form a seal around the hole in the rain barrel.  Make sure everything feels tight.

Next, use your utility knife to cut a hole on the top of the barrel. This hole needs to be large enough for your gutter downspout to drain into it. Add a couple more drill holes near the top of the barrel for overflow. If you want, you can connect additional barrels from these holes with hose or PVC pipe for even greater water storage.

You will want to cover the downspout hole with a piece of landscape fabric. You can cut a piece large enough to cover the top of the barrel and then place a lid over it, or you can put the fabric on top of the hole and “glue” it on with the sealant. The fabric will trap dirt and debris, and prevent mosquitoes from reaching the water.

After you have everything put together, it’s time to install your rain barrel! Place it right under a downspout in a spot you’ll use it most often (next to a garden, a flower bed, etc.). Placing the barrel higher off the ground will create more pressure when you hook up a hose, thanks to gravity. Use bricks, pieces of 4×4 lumber or other material to construct a platform for the barrel.

Once your rain barrel starts collecting water, you’ll see just how easy it is to be more resourceful at home. For other methods, such as private water wells, irrigation wells or geothermal drilling, contact C&J Well Company. We offer many installation and maintenance options for folks across central Indiana.

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to get in touch with us for any other questions you have!