Rain, rain come our way!

DIY Rain Barrel Tutorial:

As I am vamping up the garden this year complete with chickens...read more on that here, I figured this would be the perfect time to add a rain barrel to the backyard. I have been wanting to do this for a while and since in spring we usually get a lot of rain (though this year seems pretty unpredictable) now is the time!
What is a rain barrel?
"A rainwater tank (sometimes called a rain barrel in North America, or a water butt in the UK) is a water tank used to collect and store rain water runoff, typically fromrooftops via rain gutters. Rainwater tanks are devices for collecting and maintaining harvested rain.
Rainwater tanks are installed to make use of rain water for later use, reduce mains water use for economic or environmental reasons, and aid self-sufficiency. Stored water may be used for watering gardens, agriculture, flushing toilets, in washing machines, washing cars, and also for drinking, especially when other water supplies are unavailable, expensive, or of poor quality, and that adequate care is taken that the water is not contaminated or the water is adequately filtered.
In ground rainwater tanks can also be used for retention of stormwater for release at a later time. In arid climates, rain barrels are often used to store water during the rainy season for use during dryer periods." -wikipedia
(Our rain barrel will be strictly for watering the garden and the chickens)

Technically you can make a rain barrel out of just about anything....originally I was going to use a 55 gal plastic food grade drum.  I found many on craigslist for 10-$15 but they were mostly all business' in rough areas that I didn't want to drive to with the kids (but try your classifieds!). Since I already had a $25 gift card to ACE Hardware I found a 32 gal trashcan there for $14, in fact I only spend $25 on the entire project!

So let's start...
What you need:
a large can (drum or trash can)
a drill with a one inch paddle bit (found mine at ACE for $5)
plumbers tape
plumber cement
a large piece of window screen (found mine in the shed!)
faucet sink celcon 3/4" - water valve
PVC pressure piece - 3/4"


Drill a 1" hole with your 1" paddle bit. Do this about 3-4 inches from the bottom of the can - measure by holding up your valve - making sure you have room to attach a garden hose with ease.

If your hole looks a little rough - like mine! just trim it with a utility knife.

Dry fit your valve by screwing it in...it should go in but not be too loose - If your paddle was 1" and your fitting 3/4" it should be fine.

unscrew it and wrap it in plumber's tape

then add some plumber's cement
*this may be over kill but I am by NO means a plumber!

Screw it in tight - you'll see the cement make a seal.

wait for this to dry before moving on...about 15 min.

This is what the inside of the can look like (above)
This next part may again be overkill - but I was worried after continuous use, the valve may shift or turn, so at ACE I picked up this PVC piece in the plumbing section.  It's called a "pressure fitting" I have no idea what this is actually for but it screwed on to the valve perfectly - it's also 3/4".
Screw this on the valve from the INSIDE of the trashcan. I also used some plumbers cement and screwed it so tight leaving only the wall of the trash can between the two.

Inside view of can

The inside view of the can once valve and "pressure" PVC piece are screwed together

Now it's time to talk about overflow. Use your 1 inch paddle again to make a hole towards the top of your can. This is so that if your can completely fills and continues to fill, the water can drain out...just like a tub and sink have. You can do one of three things for this....
1. leave it like this and water will overflow and just run down
2. install another valve and leave it open all of the time and water will run out (you could connect a hose too)
3. screw a hose (garden hose) directly into the hole and cement (like you did the first valve)
I did the third - mainly because mine will be placed on our patio and I don't want water collecting there. I actually fed the hose through a drain pipe that leads under the patio and out to the yard.

now is a good time to dry fit the entire device to your gutter

this is where I installed mine...I held the can up and measured where the gutter downspout would hit the top of the can....and cut the gutter with a hack saw.
This is where I made a REALLY stupid mistake. See that bracket thing about one inch under my cut....under that is a seem where to pieces of downspout overlap - I could have just removed the bottom piece and I wouldn't have had to cut ANYTHING! So look for something like that!

After figuring out your cut...hold up the lid to the can and make a mark where the downspout needs an opening.

Then cut the opening...I used a jigsaw but you could use a handsaw.
Drill holes in the corners first then insert saw.

Now time for the screen. I found this in our shed from a previous owner. After checking that is does not match any of my windows I cut the screen out removing it from the frame. I simply laid this over the top of the can (under the downspout) and snapped the lid on...and done!
*don't skip this step you will need to filter and leaves that may wash down your gutters then the valve will get clogged. You can clean this out periodically by just removing the lid pulling the screen out and rinsing it off.

You may want to add some sort of base to elevate the rain barrel 4-5" for easier use...you could use lumber, landscaping bricks, cinder blocks, etc. I used a few 2X4's creating a square.

I cheated and filled it up about 1/4 of the way with the hose to test it and....it works!
 Now I'm just waiting on the rain!

linking up here

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  1. Thanks for posting this tutorial, I've been wanting a rain barrel for a while now but just haven't bought one yet. After seeing your tutorial I think I'll just make one myself!

  2. This is a great idea! We need to do something like this to have some extra water for the garden.:)

  3. Great work on your water tank! Nice to see the step by step process too!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. Fantastic and useful tutorial! I have to do this for our new house. Thanks so much for sharing the details...I'm pinning you! I'm over via Trendy Treehouse. I'm a new follower, and would love if you would stop by for a visit and follow. Have a great week, Lori

  5. It was awesome to have rainwater tank. this will conserve water in your house.

    Rainwater Tanks

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Dear Mellisa

    Excellent demonstration of Food Drums being used as rain water barrels to collect rain water

    I think i can make my food drum as rain water tanks too

  8. You probably love to have rain always in order to fill your rainwater tank.

    underground water tank