Instructables
Picture of How to build a rain water collector
In this instructable, I will show how I made a rainwater collection system to water my garden. This helps to conserve water and make good use of a free and renewable resource.

Note that this involves using many different tools and proper safety precautions should always be taken.
 
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Step 1: The beginning - installing the posts

Picture of The beginning - installing the posts
To begin, I laid out a 55 gallon drum on the ground and dug a hole on either side in the spot that the poles (4x4 pressure treated lumber posts) were going to go.

Step 2: Installing the posts continued

Picture of Installing the posts continued
With the first post in the ground, I leveled it off with a level and propped it into place with scrap wood. Then, I began to mix the concrete. This entire project took three 50lb. bags of fast-drying concrete. With the concrete mixed to the right consistency, I poured it around the base of the post.

Step 3: Installing the posts continued

Picture of Installing the posts continued
The second post went in the same way as the first. From end to end -including the posts, it wound up measuring 39 inches.

Step 4: Installing the posts continued

Picture of Installing the posts continued
With the front two posts in place, I took a barrel and laid it back into place. This made it possible to judge where the last two posts should go.

Step 5: Installing the posts continued

Picture of Installing the posts continued
Of course, each post got 6 screws in the base to help them stay in the concrete.

All screws used in this project were 2 1/2 inch coarse-thread exterior screws.

Step 6: Installing the posts continued

Picture of Installing the posts continued
With the last two posts in, the concrete is allowed to dry and harden.

Including the posts, the front and back both measured 39 inches and the left and right sides both measured 38 inches. However, anybody attempting this should measure and place the posts in whatever configuration that is best.
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gkten4 months ago

Hi nice work. Allow me to say that you may need to add some kind of filtration. I see that your house is below trees and the pipelines could be blocked by leaves.

Thanks

canman2004 months ago

Top idea already gathering the material for this build.

dudaott4 months ago

Great Instructable! To solve the flow problem from top to bottom, you can drill a little hole at the upper back of the lower barrel and connect it through a hose to the upper part of the top barrel. And I think it's a good idea to put a simple one-way valve in the inlet of the top barrel - i.e. the entrance of the rain water. This way you can prevent the water to try to come out from the top . And you can add a simple filter system in the down pipe. I know I have a picture somewhere around here... I'll keep looking and post after...

qwerty9244 months ago

i might make something like this for the animal pen in my back yard. this would make it so much easier to water them if the water was readily available but your idea of putting a hole in the bottom barrel is a very bad idea. because there is still water above the water line of the bottom barrel there would be enough pressure to allow water to escape through that hole. if you put a valve on it then it might work though

mganpate2 years ago
how to filter the rain in fast rain coming so its very dirty?
DanCrocker2 years ago
Maybe reduce the angle a bit? You wouldn't need much to ensure a flow to the front. Just a few degrees.
DanCrocker2 years ago
Something like this LobosSolos?
wooden barrel end support.jpg
DanCrocker2 years ago
Again, not meaning to be critical here but I think I would have used nuts and bolts with large washers to distribute the load instead of lag bolts - which would have a tendency to sag over time given the weight. But then, I am no engineer. ;p)
DanCrocker2 years ago
Hadn't thought of that. Good idea.
DanCrocker2 years ago
An alternative to using lag bolts would be to drill all the way through the post and use nuts and bolts with large washers under the bolt head and nut. These could be tightened as needed as the wood ages.
Zaryn3 years ago
Why two pieces of 2x4 instead of one piece of 4x4?
It's quite a common trick. 4x4s are much more expensive than 2x4s, and 2x4s are more common. In this case it might be to sandwich something in between them.
sunshiine3 years ago
You really spent some time on this ible! Thanks so much for sharing your hard work!
Are you not concerned with algae growing in the clear tubing?
iPodGuy (author)  Handsome-Ryan5 years ago
Didn't even think about it until after the fact. I still use the clear tubing and I have a little green growing on the sides and I suppose that if it clogs then since it's so short, I can just ream it out with a stick.
woah- why is this particularly an issue with clear tubing? I have a greywater system with some clear tubing, this did not occur to me either. I bought it only because that was all they had at the store I went to. Yes, very nice instructable. I really like how you tipped the barrels to take advantage of the built in threading- this is a particularly sore point with me, I would love to see an instructable on how to install leakproof spigots on a curved surface. I have a method, which I will soon be posting, but I'm still waiting to see if it holds- want to see what others have been trying.
iPodGuy (author)  yoshhash5 years ago
Algae buildup is typically only an issue with clear tubing because algae is a plant that requires photosynthesis to survive. The darkness inside of an opaque piece of pipe or hose prevents light from entering, therefore reducing algae's success of growing there. I too am interested in seeing other's ideas of installing leakproof spigots on curved surfaces. Especially ones that don't involve cutting the top of the barrel off to allow the builder to reach inside.
Paladin iPodGuy4 years ago
 Yeah, maybe go with the black poly tubing instead. Excellent instructable though!
mjtc98 Paladin3 years ago
Or 'retrofit' your clear tubing with a little paint :)
Paladin mjtc983 years ago
Nice idea, but not too many paints will stick to the clear tubing and remain flexible. The black poly pipe is cheap.
Discojess5 years ago
This is amazing. I've been planning to put a system in, this one is very attractive. I was also wondering about the air hole situation, so, as you have it, the air I'm assuming just escapes through the gutter? Also, if you drilled a hole in the top of the bottom barrel, would it then squirt out of that hole once the top barrel starts to fill, since the pressure will be coming from higher than the hole? maybe some kind of a hose that goes from the air hole to above the highest barrel... this is awesome.
iPodGuy (author)  Discojess5 years ago
Not quite. The air escapes through the very top bung. There is about 1/4 inch clearance with the inlet pipe and the top bung. The air comes out of there as well as extra water. So, the only thing the gutter does is divert the water to the barrels. I guess if you put a hose from the top edge of the bottom barrel to the top edge of the top barrel, it would cause the bottom one to fill more. It's not something I'm going to try however since it already saves me enough. If you are really concerned with getting every single possible drop, then try making a system with upright barrels.
jeffeb3 iPodGuy3 years ago
Upright barrels is a good idea. Keep in mind, that no matter what the shape of the container, the final pressure of a gravity powered tank is proportional to the depth, assuming no resistance in that hose. So a vertical system could possibly be much more pressure.


For your implementation, you can just add a hose from the top-back of the bottom barrel to any place in the top barrel (it doesn't have to be in the upper bucket air pocket). This will serve two purposes 1) allow water to fill in the upper part of the bottom barrel; 2) increase the amount of flow from the top barrel to the bottom.


Great instructible, I know it's old. I'd be interested in you updating it with a follow up.


I plan to buy a couple barrels, and then convince my wife to let me do something like this.

iPodGuy (author)  jeffeb33 years ago
Thanks for the comment.

What would you like to be updated on?
I stumbled upon this project a few weeks back, and since then i have convinced the garden club and my children's school to install this in our community garden.
We had the barrels donated to the school and plan on getting it built within the next week!
This is just such an excellent idea! Thank you for sharing it!
tyoungman3 years ago
just wondered why you angled the barrels. what little water you gain on one end you loose on the back
mikesnyd3 years ago
awe come on man.. where is the gutter and debris gaurd on this small roof lmao. great little build man!!
mikesnyd3 years ago
maybe not a decoration but maybe a sealer could be used on the roof of yours. unless it all is already treated wood.
plumber45 years ago
Here is a tip that was suggested to me years ago while installing a wood fence around our garden. I found it very useful. Try digging smaller diameter holes and using pea gravel instead of cement. The pea gravel is a bit more expensive (which is why i suggest using smaller holes, you use less gravel). but has a few advantages over cement. 1. Better drainage - this also means longer life of the wood posts. Place a few inches of gravel in the bottom of the post hole. This allows for better water drainage. Your posts will take much longer to rot and will likely outlast the structure above ground. 2. Strong yet easily removed - Posts that are set in pea gravel can be removed without digging and with little effort. Posts that are cemented in are pretty much permanent or at least very difficult to remove. If you decide to move, you can easily take your water harvesting system with you. 3. Less work - mixing cement can be a lot of effort. If you are not not familiar with mixing, it can be very difficult to get the desired mix. 4. Time saving - The time saved by using gravel is well worth the few extra bucks that you may spend on gravel. Also, you do not spend any time cleaning up the cement mess. After getting your post true, fill the hole around it with a few inches of pea gravel at a time. Pack the gravel down with whatever you have (i use a small section of thin lumber or a 2x4. Keep doing this until you are a few inches from the top of the hole. Then use earth to fill in the rest. Tamp the earth down and its set. This ends up looking better than cement as well. Of course always be sure to dig your post holes far enough past the frost line. In Lower Michigan, 42" is the depth to dig to.
I never thought of using pea gravel as the base before. I like it. I would do one thing a little different. I do some fiberglassing and usually have a bit of polyester resin laying around so its nothing to me to soak the ends of my posts with a quick coat of resin. No fiberglass needed. Once soaked they don't absorb moisture. And man does your wood last.
I have never in my life dug a hole more then 36" and never had a problem... but thats for decking and such. I usually only have done 24" and use concrete. For a fence being more linear (unlike the box we are making here) and having to deal with mother natures winds 42" would be cool for the pea gravel method.
You can also put the concrete in dry.  As it rains it sets up and you don't have the issue of the concrete pulling away from the post as it cures.
iPodGuy (author)  plumber44 years ago
Thanks.
becca-boo4 years ago
Technically, water is not a renewable resource. Water is not created (like trees and other renewable resources) but recycled. But Im just busting your chops, this thing is amazing! My dad was looking for a way to create his own rain barrels and this is just the thing! However, i must agree with Donron, It seems there is no way for the air to escape once the barrels begin to fill with water. (of course it is very possible i missed a step where you mention to drill an air escape hole or the barrels are already equipped with such a hole) None the less, this idea was brilliant.
Where do you get the barrels?
Actually, water enters and leaves cellular systems all the time. I like this project.
iPodGuy (author)  becca-boo4 years ago
Yes, I think you missed a step.  The air in the bottom barrel will go to the top (not extremely efficient, but that's what it does) and the air in the top escapes from the gap in the topmost bung.  That's also where the excess water leaves from.
 Oh, I see. ha ha. I guess I did miss that step.
donron4 years ago
 hello.i think that your barrels will never be full of water.this is because you didnt put them horizontally.in the upper part of the barrel there is no way of air going out and it will just stay there decreasing the water holding capabilities of your barrels.if you put them in the same way but with the openings of the tubing in the upper side they get filled properly.
iPodGuy (author)  donron4 years ago
I know they don't.  I covered my reasons for doing so in the instructions. 
markallan4 years ago
Are you sure the stand-ends will hold the weight of the barrel onces they are filled with water?

Thanks.

Mark
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