Rain barrels capture rainwater otherwise lost through the downspout to use for watering your garden between rains. But rainwater harvesting has lots of benefits beyond simply watering your garden. It's also good Green Tech. It's a low-cost solution for a number of potential issues:
- It reduces stormwater runoff created by the roof of your house
- It can reduce property drainage problems
- It contributes to a LEED Green Building rating
This instructable documents how to construct a simple rain barrel used to collect rainwater runoff from a downspout. It uses readily available parts found at your local hardware or plumbing supply store, and it uses basic tools found in many tool kits. For those tools you don't have, they're easy to source and inexpensive.
Step 1: Parts List and Materials
Note: It is not recommended to use captured rainwater for drinking, but the food-grade component ensures that the barrel has not held contents that could damage the water supply or plants, or be absorbed by plants and then ingested when those plants are eaten.
I use it for the following:
- Water the garden
- Refill the toilet toilet tank after flushing
- Various household construction and cleaning uses
There are various acronyms used with plumbing fittings, and I will list the ones I used here:
Components for the rain barrel (parts I used and approximate cost in parentheses):
Food-grade watertight barrel (220 liter Greek pickle barrel, $20)
My local hardware store happens to sell used food-grade barrels during the summer.
- Screen to filter incoming rainwater (3" kitchen sink strainer, $1)
- Overflow fitting (Right-angle 3/4" inner diameter 1-1/2" male NPT to 1" HB fitting, $1.75)
- Overflow hose (1-1/4' flexible hose, 6 ft, $3)
- Bulkhead fitting (Bulkhead fitting, 1-5/8" outside diameter, NPT female threads to accept a standard 3/4" spigot, $8)
- Nipple to connect bulkhead fitting to shut-off valve (3/4" male NPT to 3/4" male GHT, $1)
- shut-off valve (Lee Valley Straight shut-off valve, $13)
- Hose union gasket (Lee Valley O-ring washer, 10 for $3.25)
- Optional: quick-connect fitting (Lee Valley Brass Quick Coupler, $10)
For the base of the barrel, I used a couple of cinder blocks and a piece of flat blue stone I had in the yard. This makes filling watering cans a lot easier. The higher you're willing to put the barrel, the more water pressure you can achieve.