Introduction: Rain Barrels

Picture of Rain Barrels

Making rain barrel systems was a blast. A few mistakes down the way, but all in all it came out to be a great addition to my yard. Took all the idea's I liked from other sites and combined them to make my own.

Step 1: Tools - Parts

Picture of Tools - Parts

This would have been a cheap project If I had all the right tools to begin with...

Step 2: Cut Some Holes

Picture of Cut Some Holes

Note you will be flipping the barrels so the caps are on the bottom.

Step 3: Do Some Connections

Picture of Do Some Connections

Do some sealing. That PVC hardens fast so WHATCH OUT!!!

Step 4: Overflow

Picture of Overflow

It fills up fast!!!

Step 5: Done

Picture of Done

You can use any size roof. My roof is 20' by 7' and fills up extremely fast. Had the 1st heavy rain storm through and it was coming out the overflow in 20 mins...

Step 6: Another Addition

Picture of Another Addition

got a free barrel so I made a single unit for the front..

This one cost 11 bucks cause I had the gear...

The 1st one cost me around 100 bucks. Thats $40 for the 2 barrels. (could find them for free if you have patience) around $40 for tools and sealants.


LancasterPA (author)2015-09-23

How do you seal the PVC pipe to the barrel on the sides?

runnoutt (author)LancasterPA2015-09-26

I really don't remember. I just asked around at Lowes.

hyoung (author)2015-02-18

1 inch of rain on 1000SQ ft. roof, will yield about 500 gallons an hour.

Aquabarrel (author)2013-11-04

To minimize the debris build up on the inlet screen you might consider a better filter design like these:

or for a kit that INCLUDES the drill bits - this kit:

christwitty (author)2009-07-16

Where did you buy the barrels. I haven't found any for $40.

Check car wash places. Sometimes they sell old soap barrels. I got 2  50 gallon barrels for 10 bucks total. All I had to do was wash soap residue out. :D

Wouldn't these soaps be full of toxic chemicals? I mean, every "normal" cleaning product we use around the home is full of toxics, including dish and laundry detergents, hair shampoo and conditioner, etc. I would think to clean cars, it would need to be a much stronger mixture.

ufonut (author)JeannieW2010-07-20

I just picked up a soap barrel from the local car wash and - as you so importantly point out - I'm HIGHLY concerned about using it in a rain water collection system. The barrel is labeled with the chemical "sodium metasilicate pentahydrate" and warns not to get it on your skin. I got a little on my fingers from residuals on the lid while rinsing the outside off and indeed, it did sting a bit before I was able to wash it off. But unanswered questions abound regarding using the barrel for rainwater collection. Does the stuff embed itself in the plastic and if so, will it leach into the water? How watered down is the remaining fluid inside the barrel? Is it toxic to plants? I don't know and I'm wondering if I ought to fill the barrel up with water, take a sample and then have it tested somewhere before I proceed further.

martind17 (author)ufonut2013-05-25

From what I've read, it's only corrosive because it comes in such a condensed form. It then is mixed with a lot of water and is just soap.
Personally I'm going to use it only on flowers/lawn and not on my veggies.

JeannieW (author)ufonut2010-07-21

sodium metasilicate pentahydrate is listed as a white dry granule, and its not listed as hazardous waste, although great caution and special equipment are used to clean it up. Its extremely corrosive, even used for cleaning metals. Maybe your best bet is to get on a couple chemist's forums and ask there. I would think since its a granule, it wouldn't leach into the plastic of the barrel, but I sure wouldn't want to take that chance unless I asked some chemists first.

pcooper2 (author)JeannieW2012-08-23

Soaps and detergents are generally non-toxic. The have to be: When items are rinsed and the soap or detergent goes down the drain, it eventually ends up at a water treatment plant, then is discharged into local waterways. I wouldn't eat or drink the stuff, though, because it's likely to cause a tummy ache.

would some tin garbage cans work or just a regular garbage can made out of plastic but is durable if you do use a metal one make sure its not rustable or put a plastic bag along in there to avoid rust all together

MCzone (author)albylovesscience2011-07-28

tin is way better, it does not put any chemicals in the water, just take it apart during winter, and you should be good

I'd go with plastic

troseph (author)christwitty2010-04-11

 walmart has them for $38

runnoutt (author)christwitty2009-07-16

found a seller on

sweet how much you make

no found barrels on cragslist

christwitty (author)runnoutt2009-07-17

Thank you I looked on Ebay I found a few for $50 but I'll check Craigslist.

willthon (author)2012-05-01

Our local high schools 'give-away' plastic barrels. Contact the maintenance department of your local high school for details. The 30 and 50 gallon barrels I have used contained hand soap and floor waxes. :-)

moonchylde (author)2011-02-20

If your looking for salvaged barrels, I have a suggestion. If there's a chemical plant in your area, you could ask there. The one I used to work at threw out dozens of UNUSED barrels a night. They would label more barrels then they needed for a batch, and federal law prohibits the plant using the barrels for anything else once they've been labeled. I used to bring home all different sizes of barrels and buckets for free; it was the only good part of the job. :V

ARJOON (author)2010-07-06

my dad brought 3 of the blues. 175l each. he got it for free

Frostxr (author)2010-05-15

The place i use to work at , we a bunch of barrels like this. And I use to drain chemicals out of it with a spout. But my biggest concern, is when you flip the barrel upside down, it tends to leak form the spout, or the caps. I might be blind but what did you use to seal then tight form leakage? thanks

RelientOwl (author)2010-05-06
I like the how instead of getting water from the side you went to the bottom so more pressure Like it!
knektek (author)2010-04-25

Could you possibly use 15l oil containers made out of metal? I am concerned about iron oxide and corrosion.

filmnuts (author)knektek2010-04-29

The system I built for my parents uses food grade metal barrels that were originally used for transporting fish oil.  They've had no problems with rust or corrosion yet.

Nancy52 (author)2009-08-04

Looks like a good system. I already have the blue barrels, but you didn't tell what the different pvc parts were that are needed. And no instructions. HELP!!!

bajabeetle (author)Nancy522010-04-14

You can get a pretty good idea by drawing it out.  pick your location and then get to sketchin'. straight pieces are going to come in length and need to be cut. any bend or corner will probable come in the form of a 45deg, 90deg, or tee fitting. if you have to reduce a pipe, there will be fitting for that. take your drawing to lowes or whatever and they can help. hope that helps a little. dc

runnoutt (author)Nancy522009-08-05

All I did was go to lowes for about an hour and fit everything together...

helpsme (author)2009-07-23

Great idea! Thanks for the 'detailed' but easy instructions. p.s. try your local car washes for the rain barrels - in my area they sell them at the end of the month.

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