Picture of Need Free Water?  Build a Rain Barrel
For the price of a 55 gallon plastic barrel (sometimes free), and about $10 in parts, you can build your own rainwater collection system. Water is good. Free water is better.

If you already know that water won't run uphill and how to handle a drill, you can do this. The most ingenious part of the design is the hose-to-barrel connection. Since the attached hose will frequently be tugged during normal use, it is important to use a mechanical connection rather than a glued connection.

This design uses a simple garden hose washer, standard garden hose parts, and a special adapter, that's not really all that special. It's expandable and useful for more than just capturing rain water.

Step 1: Got Parts?

Picture of Got Parts?
lawn fertililzer.jpg
You will need a barrel. The bigger the better. 55 gallon is good. I like plastic, but metal will work. Don't use barrels that held something toxic in a former life, go for something wholesome, like lawn fertilizer, or laundry detergent. I picked up this one at a local recycler for $4.

Also, while in town, pick up a garden hose valve, garden hose washer, and a MHT to FPT 3/4" plastic adapter. What? MHT = Male Hose Thread. FPT = Female Pipe Thread. Plastic = plastic. You'll know it when you see it. Less than $10 total.

I had some old parts handy to draw from.

The gutter modification comes later.
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Stavros!7 months ago

To increase the flow of water out of the barrel use a 3/4" 1/4 turn ball valve instead of that hose valve. The ball valve has a much bigger diameter hole inside to allow water out that the hose valve.

KenM7 Stavros!3 months ago

That is a ¼ turn ball valve although the inside opening doesn't look like ¾".

Stavros! KenM73 months ago

1/4 turn ball valves come in several sizes, so that hole inside of that one is the same as a garden faucet. A 3/4" 1/4 turn ball valve will have a much larger hole inside, and still fit a garden hose. Check out the video on youtube called "Rain barrel water pressure/volume demonstration" to see the difference.

monica.tonty5 months ago

Did you use a 25ft hose to connect the two barrels? I'm trying to keep costs as low as possible.

Waw, great idea!

Ploopy1 year ago


You're not doing this for drinking water. From the comments, there are a lot of daft people looking at this instructable.

This is water that you will use for watering your garden/lawn.

Clearly common sense is no longer common.

Aquabarrel1 year ago
I'd suggest a large overflow port for places where heavy rains are common.

OR just use an inexpensive DIY kit like this one http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_parts_kit_earthminded.php

Filtering on the downspout keeps the debris from matting down on the top screen material: http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_filters_slim_line.php
zilcho4 years ago
if your going to drink it i would add some water filters
groovy zilcho4 years ago
Bad choice of avatar........
kkarwan groovy3 years ago
and your name is great?
zilcho groovy4 years ago
How so?
bwells24 years ago
Do you know how much money it will save on your water bill? That is amazing! Thank you for sharing.
kkarwan bwells23 years ago
you should realy filter the water and boil it before ingesting as it can pick up tar bird manure, and solvents off f a roof not to mention the noxious chemicals that are in our atmosphere, that this water was recently in contact with.
jfellens4 years ago
We simply placed some feeder goldfish in our rain barrell to eat the mosquito larvae.
khalednm5 years ago
 has anyone looked into putting a deionizer into the spigot setup?  This would eliminate the risk of acid rain... and an activated charcoal filter should remove any other contaminants...
The rain just ran over a roof.... I'd be more worried about what it picked up there (tar, solvents, bird poo, etc) than I would be about acid rain. This is meant for grey water type uses - drinking water is cheap enough (fractions of a cents a gallon) that I wouldn't recommend trying to pinch those pennies.
Very nice rain barrel - simple and easy. I have built something similar, but tie the barrels together. I use a small pump from Home Depot to empty the barrels.

You can see the beast here...


Also includes step by step instructions with pictures.
intel_intel4 years ago

We just built our own rain barrel too. It is a little different from the one built in the post. Check out our step by step make a rain barrel guide to see how we built ours.
ezgnann4 years ago
I am having some trouble finding food grade barrels in my area (northern Louisiana). Is there any reason why 55 gallon plastic trashcans cannot be used? they are readily available, reasonable, and durable?
cytoxin5 years ago
Where did you get the parts for the hose connectors? I checked Home Depot and Lowes and couldn't find anything like these...
McSensei (author)  cytoxin5 years ago
Home Depot and Lowes _should_ have those parts. However, i found them at a local farm supply store, Rural King. With hindsight, I'd use larger-diameter hoses for the project. Garden hose is just too small to allow a significant amount of water to flow at "rain-barrel pressure".
jpatramirez5 years ago
what would someone recommend if you do not have a downspout? our pitched roof homes in El Paso TX do not normally have these attached...is there another way to collect water without downspout?
@jpatramirez You would need a downspout diverter... you can get them here:

Rain Barrels

eddy147775 years ago
great thought but if you live somewhere with power plants basically in your back yard this could produce acid rain
 Acid rain is fairly common, true, but the water that is being collected should only be used to water gardens, wash cars, etc.; every thing that would be exposed to the rain already. This water shouldn't be used as drinking water for sure, it's not exactly the definition of potable water.
Ryutso5 years ago
Or you flip the rain barrel over and have someone stand inside it and hold the 2 parts.
mclelm5 years ago
Rainwater Harvesting systems are great; I have two barrels in two locations.  I don't know if anyone mentioned this (I didn't read the 69 comments), but if you've got this type of white barrel or any other translucent barrel anywhere the sun shines on them, algae will grow; at least it did on my white barrel.  The barrel will have to be shielded in some way- by painting the barrel or some sort of solid box, trellis with vines, etc.
Greenehouse7 years ago
I wonder if there is any sort of filter (besides or in addition to) the screen that you could use that would filter out stuff off the roof you wouldn't want in your pool. (I'm thinking of using it to replenish evaporated pool water.)
McSensei (author)  Greenehouse7 years ago
I think using rainwater for pool water is a great idea. You would want to construct a better filter system though. I suggest a multi-stage system that begins with a piece of 1/4" hardware cloth, set up to be self-cleaning, and then, a piece of coarse window screen, and then a piece of fine window screen. I would look at drain/waste/vent 4" plastic pvc pipe parts and try to figure out something that would work. Probably a vertical arrangement with the screening installed at an angle, so that it is able to shed debris through an opening while allowing the water to fall straight through. You will just have to be creative. Finally, since most pools have their own filter systems, the final filtering and finishing could be achieved through standard pool chemistry and filter maintenance.
pkguy McSensei5 years ago
I would use it for the same things. I'm on the west side of Cleveland (Strongsville), where did you find your barrel for $4?
USDA used to recommend a 10' sand-pipe. If you try to filter the water before it gets to the barrel, then you need a filter system with a large throughput. It works better if you have an initial catchment that can hold most of one storms worth of water, and then a sand-filled pipe to a covered cistern that holds your "filtered" water.
Skylerk5 years ago
There is an awesome rain barrel diverter called RainReserve. And it has a large spigot that can do up to 10GPM. And to modernmans question: the diverter and attachments are closed, so that water will go back up the tubing into the diverter and out the downspout. Found at:
ya, just collect it, strain it then purify or boil it! P.S. there is a company in texas selling bottled rain water, and they claim the mineral content makes the water taste almost a little sweet, and is defiantly difrent from your avrage water. I think im gona do this instructable, because where i live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio our water is bad (its really hard) and super calciumic (i made that word up so dont comment me on that word!)
I partly agree with with Dessyl, I've researched many of  the polluted rivers around the Great Lakes/ MidWest/ Northern Appalachia, & I wouldn't trust any tap water there either. But have you considered where you rain water comes from? You might want to do some research into acid rain, which was most prevelant around those same rivers & lakes. Texas (except for oil production metros like Houston), the SW, & the Rocky Mt states have purer rain water because it's evaporated from cleaner sources. I would say to anybody, if you don't like your tap water, do not drink you rainwater. & if you're using it for gardening maybe at least test the pH before you use it on expensive plants. Good luck.
Yeah, I live in Stow, Ohio (which is right next to Cuyahoga Falls for those who don't know) and the water is pretty bad. But it isn't as bad as it used to be. At one point the the Cuyahoga River caught on fire near Cleveland due to the pollution (A long time ago). However, now the water just smells and tastes bad. This is a good idea. You can use the water for pretty much anything, but I have a few concerns. Because it is relatively stagnant water bacteria and algae can build up and mosquitoes may be attracted to it.
Goedjn Dessyl7 years ago
That's why people keep goldfish in their rain barrels. they eat the mosquito larvae.
(There's a brand of processed cheese sold in the UK with the tag "It's calci-yummy")
We have a dairy-based dessert called "Calci-yum"
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