Instructables
Do you have an extra 55 gallon barrel sitting in the basement? Maybe it's time to start conserving water by making a rain barrel to use to water your garden! This is an inexpensive way to conserve water and provide a clean source of water for your yard/garden.

There are lots of ways to convert your barrel into a usable rain barrel, but these instructions will show you the simplest way to do it. This method only requires drilling two holes (one if you use a utility knife), and it doesn't require cutting a huge hole in your barrel.
 
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Step 1: Parts List

Picture of Parts List
The first step is to round up all the parts that are required. Here's a list:

Food Grade Barrel
1" ID (Inner Diameter) Hose
3/4" Drill Bit (optional, Utility Knife can be used instead)
1" Drill Bit
Nylon 3/4" MIP to 1" Barb Adapter
3/4" Hose Bib
Drill
Rain Water Diverter (can be bought or made. It is important that the diverter handles overflow when the barrel fills up)


Total Cost:
Barrel - $20.00
Hose - $5.76
Adapter - $2.71
Hose Bib - $4.94

Total - $33.41

The diverter can easily cost as much as the rest of the system if it is bought online.
Aquabarrel1 year ago
Clear tubing will likely have algae in it - sun + water = algae :-(

Overflow port should match the volume coming into the barrel http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_overflow_port.php

there are lots of diverters on the market too: http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_parts_kit_earthminded.php http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_diverter_rectangular_aluminum.php

Filters that install on the downspout are better then screen tops. If debris lands on the screen top it mats down and water does not enter barrel and overflows the top of the barrel in most cases - http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_filters_slim_line.php

metal and plastic do not interface well for very long - suggest you look at a threaded rubber seal for a better, longer lasting seal   http://www.rainbarrelparts.com/product_rbpEM_RSP_seal_threaded_plastic.php
mr. clean4 years ago
what u could do is turn the hose bib 90 degrees then u dont have to worry about a hose not fitting :)
oztrich4 years ago
 It's been quite a long time, did you ever create an Instructable for the diverter?  Maybe just a picture and let us see it in detail, if you don't have enough time to document?
arirang7775 years ago
So you just screwed the bib into the wall of the barrel? No nuts from the inside of the barrel? That has been my dilemma into doing this project. I don't want to make a big hole on the top of the barrel just to tight a nut. Is it firm and leakless? Thanks!
The wall of the barrel is quite thick. The brass fittings create its own threads in the plastic when screwing it in. Be sure to screw it in as straight as possible. Only use teflon tape as Cromdaddy said. Do not use pipe dope. Or don't use any thread sealant. I did not use any on mine and it has not leaked yet.
cromdaddy (author)  arirang7775 years ago
That's correct. I used a little bit of Teflon tape, but I don't think it was necessary. No leaks so far!
Cool! I didn't even noticed about the thread in the top plugs until I saw your instructable. A neat trick for sure. One more Q: I guess mosquitos are not an issue here, but what about cleaning some of the roof dirt and leaves that appear from time to time? I have seen projects dumping the rain water first into a bucket, which is not bad, but have you have a secret weapon somewhere? Thanks Cromdaddy!
This is a great start! I would recommend that everyone interested in rainwater harvesting start small like this, than if they want to go bigger (hooking up drip irrigation, multiple capture points, more reservoir etc.) they will have some basic experience. Could you re-post this how to on our rainwater harvesting community forum? Some of our members really need a simple step-by-step and this one is excellent!
rowerwet5 years ago
I used a 3"X3"X2" pvc tee to connect to my rain barrel. the top 3" fit over the end of the downspout, the bottom 3" has a pvc pipe going down about 4' with a ball valve on the end, the 2" is on the side at a 45 degree angle, it has a pvc pipe that runs to my rain barrel. the pvc pipe below the rain barrel connection catches the dirt and leaves that wash out of the gutters when it starts raining, after this fills the rest of the water goes into the barrel. after it rains I go out and drain the pipe (into a watering can) with the ball valve. During the winter I leave the valve open so no freezing problems.
nadotom5 years ago
Great Instructable! Looks as if even I could duplicate the set up. You said your rain barrel costs $20.00. I live in San Diego. Where could I get one (or two). There is nothing on the San Diego Craigs List. Local "recycle center" says they can not sell anything (they only provide $ for the usual stuff).
How about water from the washer can u use it on the lawn
marsipan5 years ago
How do you connect the hose to the rain water diverter (downspout)?
cromdaddy (author)  marsipan5 years ago
I am currently working on an Instructable detailing the water diverter that I built. I hope to have it finished this weekend.
Thanks for the instructable. I got 2 of the same plastic barrel you have, and just use it for extra rain water storage. I just cap it after it filled up and no insect and no algae for a few weeks until I use all the water up. I do keep it in shade. Looking forward for your water diverter instructable.
Can't wait to see what you have! Thank you.
manuka5 years ago

I was raised (rural New Zealand) with mainly a rain water house supply, & although now a city softee still always rig up a rain barrel in my garden for convenience & emergencies. Points to note include-

  • DIRT & LEAVES mean the need to lift the barrel lid & occasionally clean the interior ( thus avoid narrow top opening barrels!)
  • Insects ( especially mosquitos )& green algae
  • Easy down pipe auto filling & access - water flow to convenient spots can be a hassle.
  • A decent storage tank "head" for simple gravity draining.
  • Strength of support structure (water of course is HEAVY, as 1 litre weighs 1kg!)
  • Water purity- nasties may accidently enter from bird droppings or gutter rubbish etc.
  • Winter freezing & tank splitting. Not a problem in the snow free region I live, BUT ...
  • Hassles if the tank leaks or spills or the stand collapses- it happens...
Overall plan hence accordingly, or start small & learn as you go ! Stan.