Introduction: Heavy Duty 275 Gallon RAIN BARREL

Picture of Heavy Duty 275 Gallon RAIN BARREL

My wife asked for a rain barrel for her flowers. Our water bill has added up again and again, so I started checking craigslist for possiblities. As luck would have it, I found a polytank that was original used for similac baby food storage. That was great, since I didn't want to worry about chemicals in the tank killing the plants and garden. The seller offered to deliver for the $35 purchase price. Great deal!!

Step 1:

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The first thing I did was to go to the hardware store and get connections so I could hook up my downspouts. I found black plastic tubing that was cheap and useful.

Step 2:

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The shower drain is on the left along with the coupling to attach it to the black gutter pipe I got at the store. As you can see the pipe in the background has a square opening, meant to receive the end of a normal downspout from the house.

Step 3:

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I couldn't find a really good connection for the plastic. Most plumbing is meant to be screwed down and wouldn't work. So, I used 3" shower pan drain. It was a oversize screw type and I drilled a 3 1/8 hole, slipped the connection in and screwed on the retaining cap. Then I connected the downspout. The sizes were not the same, so I used a rubber connection meant for odd sized pipes. I used metal straps to hold both connections. And as a bonus, the shower drain cover acts as a large item filter for the tank.

Step 4:

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I realized I needed a overflow for the water, just in case I filled the tank. (Which has happened twice in the last month!) So I added a second connection that simply goes to the other side and drains into the low ridge between my house and the neighbors, which leads to a sewer drain. So the final product is not the prettiest thing in the world, but it works great and helps to save me a little cash. All parts including the cinder blocks to support the tank were under $100. The tank is up a little to provide some water pressure for the hose. And actually, I may add two more blocks or a water pump soon, because the water pressure is still a little low.


ChristopherH134 (author)2016-05-12

Perfect. I have two of these totes and some ideal how iwanted to hook it up. Thanks. A great help.

Klowder (author)2012-08-26

Howdy, Colorado and Oregon are the states with anti rain gathering laws. A man oregon just did thirty days for collecting rain water. I have no sympathy for the folks that live there as they voted the nazies in and the jury supported this unjust law. Use barley extract to keep alge growth down. Folks have been using barley straw for years to keep small ponds clear. All natural and non toxic. Check pond supply stores. If the waters are clear and clean mesquiteos will have no food to survive. Direct sunlight on the tank also keeps it too warm for them to survive. I prefer open headed drums as I can remove the top and dip out the water if I need it for things like flushing toilets or washing things. I just drill the top to attach the down spouts.

anjana41 (author)Klowder2016-01-31

Anti rain gathering law? That is the weirdest law I ever heard of. You would think the gov would support rain gathering to save water.

Klowder (author)anjana412016-02-01

The government likes to regulate everything. The epa is trying very hard to redefine waters of the United States. This would make them able to extend their grip to your back yard.

static (author)Klowder2012-09-02

Nobody living today in the States that still have laws prohibiting rain catchment voted in those who passed the laws. Some of those laws could be as old as 100 years old, born at a time when upstream property owners horded precipitation creating hardship for those down stream. Appears that those laws are being changed to reflect modern reality in some of the states.

apccool (author)Klowder2012-08-26

To clarify, Oregon encourages rainwater collection from rooftops. Collecting and storing millions of gallons is not encouraged.

vladivastok (author)2016-01-25


vladivastok (author)2016-01-25


mroseman82 (author)2014-06-19

I imagine that it is if the overflow works

mroseman82 (author)2014-06-19

I guess I can't tell if your lid is completely sealed

mroseman82 (author)2014-06-19

So does your overflow pipe work? Looks like it would over flow from the tank lid before it could get over the first angle in the overflow...

gaiatechnician (author)2012-11-17

I made a little thing that I call Tcmtech dripper irrigation.  It is a float connected to a little tube that lets water out of the container at a slow constant rate. It is great for irrigation of a small area.  I think you could install it in your system too.   thanks Brian

evhorig (author)2012-08-16

It might be a good idea to put a screening system in to keep
items from flowing into the containment tank. Especially for
'closed' head tanks with just holes cut into them.

One problem with rain water systems is mosquitoes getting into the
containment system and breeding in the water.

I would suggest putting the appropriate screens/netting in both the incoming and outgoing (overflow) pipes. This is to say screens/netting with holes small enough to keep mosquitoes (and other) bugs out.

It is entirely possible for bugs to fly down the gutters/pipes and into the
containment tank.

Personally, I use a pool filter net with a fine mesh.

But this may cause another problem. the screens/netting can get clogged
and may have to be cleaned.

bgoldberg1 (author)evhorig2012-09-18

It's not very difficult to construct a self cleaning screen.

A very simple type of this is as follows:

Get a piece each of two different diameter pipes, and some screen.

Cut one end off of the larger diameter pipe, at an angle.

Cover the angled end of the pipe with the screen.

Install the other end of this pipe straight downward into the top of the rain barrel.

Have the rain from the roof pass through the smaller diameter piece of pipe, and then fall straight downward, through the air, to land in the middle of the screen.

Most of the water will go through the screen, while the debris will get washed aside.

You can keep insects from entering through the overflow simply by putting a flap over it, so it will only be open when water is flowing out.

lperkins (author)evhorig2012-08-23

As long as you're careful not to drain the tank too much, a teaspoon or so of mineral oil will get rid of the mosquitoes and most other water-dwelling insects. The oil floats on top of the water and clogs the snorkle-ish appendage that mosquito larvae use to breathe. As long as you don't drain the tank enough to suck the oil off the top, add soap to the water, or seriously stir it up just prior to draining, the oil shouldn't be able to get out of the tank in any significant amount.

Gonna try the mineral oil. Been using alot of it for woodworking and have it on hand right now. Thanks!

Bosun Rick (author)evhorig2012-08-24

Why not filter the rain water thru pantyhose?Or are the holes in the mesh too large? Personally, I don't wear them, So I don't know. I have used them to filter coffee grounds when making homemade Kaluah, that worked well.

Gonna have to check on that. There are shower drains for larger debris, but I assumed smaller insects wouldn't go inside eight feet to get to the water.

Buildingabetterworld (author)2012-08-27

Sorry I missed so many commnets! My son got married this week and haven't had alot of time for internet. Honestly, I hoped people would like this project, as I find people locally not so interested in green applications. It's very refreshing to hear from people like me that enjoy the idea of helping however they can. Thanks to all the comments. I do appreciate them.

Kazion (author)2012-08-24

where can you get these for $35 delivered? Here in Florida, they want $100 or more...usually more! PLUS delivery!

Nice setup!

Thanks! It was a fortunate craigslist find. They used it for similac manufacturing up in Michigan, so it was 'clean' to use. No previous chemical use.

Renntag (author)Kazion2012-08-24

I collect and process WVO and use many of these 275 totes. Average price is about 85-150$. Price will vary based on condition and what it stored previously.

Check craigslist as that seems to be a great resource.

Kazion (author)Renntag2012-08-24

That's the best source around here as well...

Renntag (author)Kazion2012-08-25

No problem. You are welcome. Good luck capturing rain water.

67spyder (author)2012-08-23

For a fairly small cost you could attach wooden stringers to the vertical bars of the steel cage then put on siding that matches your house. This would improve the aesthetics AND solve the algae problem. If you put a hinged lid on top you could also stash your garden hose on top of the tank where it would be convenient and hidden when not in use. Just a suggestion.

Good idea. I may try it.

2leftthumbs2010 (author)2012-08-25

Good job buildingabetterworld!

I have one of these tanks as yet not have motivated me.!

A couple of my ideas have been to add some cedar slats to the metal frame and make a trellis for either perennial vines or annuals, to make it more attractive and help keep the water cooler with the shade they would make; here in the south , the water will get so hot by late afternoon, I think it might be a might bit hot for sensitive , especially young garden plants. I am curious what some people who know more about algae than I think about that, and also curious if anyone has any coments o the bleach idea. I think it a good one, as it is my understanding the bleach will dissipate rathe quickly into the air, but does it leave harnful residuals?

Another thought, I am planning on building a 6"x6 timber frame that would allow me to set the cube up about 3-4 ft off the ground for better gravity flow, also would allow for one or two 50 gallon barrels for overflow, or even another cube, set lower,

oh yes, the trellis idea could be modified to a collection of containers for attaching to the sides and top to make a cube garden, grown from interesting and attractive containers.

Agaon great job, thanks for motivation. we all need to help build a better world or mitigate the harm our species does to it!

fphifer (author)2012-08-15

Nice build! I have a few 325 gallon totes I am planning to hook up for watering the garden. I was planning to build a cover for the tote, apparently the hdpe plastic gets brittle in direct sunlight(uv damage). Something you might consider.

My understanding is that it has been in direct sunlight for three years. Not sure about becoming brittle. What kind of timeline?

I work in a papermill and we have those containers all over the place with some pretty nasyt chemicals in them. There are several that have been stored outside for close to 15 years now.....I have to inventory them monthly.....they are in direct sunlight and the plastic is still as supple as I'm thinking it must take a loooooong time for the uv rays make them brittle,

Depends on how thick the plastic is and how bright the UV light. Milk jugs get crunchy in a year or so at 49 degrees latitude. You can mitigate it either by painting or by just putting a cardboard box around the thing. Or just put it somewhere that it won't get whacked and not worry about it. It likely won't get brittle enough to break under load for many years.

ericdeck (author)2012-08-24

Hey guys.. i think this is great work... in my old place where our water supply are very limited and not enough for all things we need for the whole day. However, we try to collect rains by drums and I think the rain water is really really nice to for cleaning garage, cars, watering plants. We even filter to remove the residues to use for our laundry and dishwashing. and does not really make any difference. we never get sick or whatever on these rains as we filter and keep using the ones we collected. I think your idea will be very suitable to somepeople who really wants to save on their water bills as rain is free or some special places where water supply is very limited. just keep using the rain water. thanks again .. this really really great idea....

Renntag (author)2012-08-24

As crazy as it sounds some communities do not allow water collection. I find that absolutely careful soon you might not be able to breathe the air. Great suggestion to make sure you check.

To add to this, for some that may not have lots of space, consider putting the large tank partially or totally underground. I am planning to set one down in the ground and put a shed over top of it. This enables me to keep a pump in the shed and not take up valuable space for the tank.

Our garden requires watering regularly, and in between rain days, it is great to supplement water needs with out spinning the water meter.

paqrat (author)2012-08-24

I have never tried anything of this sort but I'd like to. As to the problem with the problem with mosquitos, I think I'd try painting the tank black. The black paint (if the tank is where it gets direct sunlight) should heat the tank and make the water unattractive to potential mother mosquitos. I base this on having deliberately made mosquito hatcheries when I kept tropical fish. Early in my making the hatcheries I made the mistake of placing them where they got direct sunlight and became quite warm. They never did produce any mosquito larvae. I think what happened was that the water became too warm to support the bacterial bloom that the female mosquito looks for in the water she will lay her eggs. I also noticed that, until algae grew enough to obscure the water, the water remained more clear than those containers that were in the shade and didn't reach the higher temps of those in diret sunlight An added advantage to painting the container would be the protection from uv rays.

Apophiss (author)2012-08-23

Great Instructable!

Just a reminder to check your local laws.

In some areas rain is considered "state owned" and some people have been prosecuted for collecting it. Collecting rainwater may also be contingent on your "water rights".

I think it is ridiculous, but check the rules to keep yourself out of trouble.

BUT....If you have a rebellious streak... just make sure you conceal it well.

Lt.Greg (author)Apophiss2012-08-23

If its illegal it has to be a NJ law. EVERYTHING is illegal here in Joisey!

Kokopeli (author)Apophiss2012-08-23

Good call on the checking of local laws. And I agree on the ridiculousness of it!

PS. Love your name and avatar.. I miss the Stargate shows.

banker (author)2012-08-16

That's a nice container, but since the material lets light in, won't algae grow inside?

markbyounger (author)banker2012-08-23

I have had a similar set up for 3 years or so. Yes algae grows but I haven't had a big problem with it yet. This summer a thick (smelly) mat of algae grew when the tank was shallow (and probably warmed up). I got a stick and shredded the (it was quite tough) and intended to use a shop vac to suck it out... then it rained so I put it off until winter. It hasn't clogged the outlet or the sump-pump yet.

nissan0712 (author)markbyounger2012-08-23

use the same stuff that you pour into ponds to keep algae from growing. Its safe and ok to use in the water.

Lt.Greg (author)nissan07122012-08-23

CuSO4 (Copper Sulfate)??

Kokopeli (author)banker2012-08-23

I'm guessing that algae will grow, but since he is using it to water flowers and plants, that should not be an issue. Now, if it were to be used for potable water, that would be a different story all together!

Too many good questions. I don't know. Gonna have to find out! Thanks!

munkey906 (author)2012-08-23

Awesome job! I made a set of these (2) a few years back and just used a bit of PVC plumbing to connect down at the outlet valve. Works like a charm.

Then I got creative and hooked up a used ($10) swimming pool pump for some real pressure.

Then I hooked up a float valve to keep the tanks filled with at least 50 gallons (been a dry summer) and a timer for automatic watering ...

Can't help but feel like I've gotten myself a giant hydroponics setup at this point :-)

manuka (author)2012-08-23

I'm down under in New Zealand, and rain water harvesting has long been part of our culture. Some rural properties depend on it! However almost all rain water collecting tanks eventually become clogged with the likes of leaf litter, bird droppings, roof dust, pollen and WHY (what have you). I've even found garden snails and eels inside them!

It's near CRUCIAL hence to have some system for total tank emptying & cleaning. Failure to address this WILL lead to outlet clogging & a possible health & safety issue- especially if the water is used in an emergency.

I've just in fact put in many hours at an Auckland home (where city water is often scare in summer & metering is used), working on restoring flow to a ~500 litre garden tank  installed ~20 years ago. The owner reported it'd soon clogged up & had annoyingly NOT run at all for the last 15 years. Plumbing quotes at the $$$ level to "fix the problem" had been too costly, but my rural background and handyman skills eventually came up with a fix.  Yes- thirsty work!   Stan.

Hoosiergoober (author)2012-08-23

I put 1(one) tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water in my rain barrel for algae groth and unwanted pest that might come into it. Does not hurt plants..That is when we get rain

Buildingabetterworld (author)2012-08-11

Well thank you! Made it myself. Seems to be able to stand up to what I put it through.

PS118 (author)2012-08-10

I just love your workbench!

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