Roughneck Rain Barrel





Introduction: Roughneck Rain Barrel

This afternoon I went to the hardware store, spent $38.22, and came out with everything I needed to make a Roughneck Rain Barrel. My plan is to use the water I harvest from my roof to water my plants and my chickens, wash the car, and fill up my squirt guns. It was fun and easy and took less than 2 hours to complete and made me feel very green and environmentalish.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

1 32 Gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck trashcan - From my garage
1 roll of window screen - On hand from fixing the patio door last summer
1 90 foot hose - $15.00
1 Nozzle set - $3.00
1 set of 3 conduit locknuts - $0.99
2 1/2 inch boiler drains - $9.48
4 flat metal washers - $2.10
4 rubber washers - $5.32
Total with tax - $38.22

Utility knife
Staple Gun

Step 2: Attaching the Faucets

1. Begin by using the utility knife to cut a hole in the trash can for the faucet several inches from the bottom of the can. The rubber washers will keep any of your harvested rain water from leaking out of your rain barrel, but be careful not to make the hole too big.
2. Thread the metal washer onto the faucet first then the rubber washer. The rubber washer should be andwiched between the metal washer and the side of the trash can.
3. Place the faucet through the hole you cut and put another rubber washer on the inside of the trash can.
4. Use the pliers to help screw the locknut on tightly. The tighter you get it screwed on the less likely you are to have leaks.
5. Repeat this process for the second faucet several inches form the top of the trash can. While a second faucet probably isn't absolutely necessary it can act as an overflow valve.

Step 3: Attaching the Screen

The screen is important. It will keep debris out of your rain barrel. It will also keep mosquitoes from being able to get in and lay eggs in your water.

1. Lay the screen over the top of the trash can.
2. Begin stapling the screen to the top of the trash can. Be sure the can is clean inside before you staple it closed.
3. Use the scissors to trim off the excess screen.

Step 4: Making the Lid

I don't suppose a lid is strictly necessary, but I think it makes it look a little better, and it will keep debris from piling up on top of your rain barrel. Using the utility knife cut out an opening in the lid of the trash can. This will be the intake for the downspout from your gutters. Put the lid on over the screen and your rain barrel is complete.

Step 5:

The last step is installing your rain barrel.

1. Begin by cutting your down spout to the desired height. I used a utility knife, but I suppose a dremel tool would work too. You may need to move a couple of the brackets that hold the down spout to the wall. Just unscrew them and move them where you want them.
2. Reattach the curvy but at the bottom of the down spout and set your rain barrel underneath.

I attached a hose to the faucet at the bottom of the barrel and ran it around the side of the house to the front where I need it, but you could just as easily skip the hose all together and save yourself $15.00.



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37 Discussions

I made it this morning--but it's too dark now for photos. I'm glad it's so cheap and easy so I can make some more tomorrow. Because the can is full already! Didn't expect it to fill that quickly. Glad I had the overflow hose ready.

Also cut the hole in the lid to fit a flexible downspout elbow, so I didn't need the screen.

Great little project.

Perfect. I spent 30 minutes at the store trying to figure out how to attach the faucet. Rubber washers never dawned on me. Thanks for the help.

my roof has a spanish tile type roof. the path the water runs down i think is a galvanized type metal. i am renting this house so i am really unsure.. is there a filter of some sort that would filter out the impurities? should there be some sort of small screening in the bottom also to filter out the large particles that get through the screen on top?. also how can you be sure the mosquitos won't get in the water?

so glad you said that about the no gutters. where i want to put mine i have no gutters. but it would be closer to a garden i want to put in. then i could use a soaker hose of some kind.

Would any trash container work for rain barrel? Is there a specific thickness we should look for? Thanks for sharing

1 reply

I made a rain barrel out of a metal trashcan a few years ago and it lasted about 2 summers, but by the time the second winter rolled around, it had busted from the ice and then next summer it rusted out. Buying a plastic trashcan could prevent rust but to prevent ANY trashcan from busting during the winter, you must drain 1/3 of the water out. All in all, I think any trashcan will only last a couple years, plastic can bust & crack, and Metal can bust & rust. So it really depends on the look your going for. If you want a water barrel that will last long and look great, than go to "Sam's Club" or Costco. Hope this helps!

If I did not have gutters on my house I would flip the lid over to catch more rain water.

Just an option

Here is a rain barrel kit that has everything you need including the drill bits!

I'm going to use an extra trash can to collect the condensation from my AC unit based on your plan. The AC drain pipe runs down the side of my house in a corner of the patio. Perfect! This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing. I've been in the house less than a year, and it doesn't have gutters. Maybe next year I'll put up gutters and a rain barrel, too.

Just wanted to say thanks for posting. I just made one for my back yard/garden.

"We should get a rain barrel" I said to my wife. Years ago. (Now, we live somewhere it isn't feasible). So I looked specifically for a "rain barrel" for months! And here comes this simple solution I will certainly be implementing when the time comes.

 I'm not sure if you should use that water for chickens, after touching your roof its not necessarily as clean as it should be.

3 replies

My chickens roll in dirt, eat old carrot tops and other veggies, and drink from puddles in their chicken run. I don't think a little roof water is going to hurt them. Thanks for thinking of their health though:)

I would agree with SamK, depending on the type of roof of course. Do you have wood shingles or shakes that have been treated with chromated copper arsenate—CCA to make them resistant to rot and moss? Water from a copper roof or copper gutters also should not be used. Zinc (galvanized metal) anti-moss strips—usually mounted at the roof peak— also produce toxic chemicals you don’t want, or if you have had your roof treated with moss-, lichen- or algae-killing chemicals within the last several years. Note that nowadays there are asphalt shingles on the market which have zinc particles imbedded in the surface. Asphalt-shingle roofs may leach various complex hydrocarbon compounds, so most people avoid using water from asphalt-shingle roofs or flat tar roofs for plants/animals meant for human consumption.

Hi, I have no running water. While I do have a spring a few miles away I can stock up on drinking water, I am hoping to use it for washing @ the very least. My roof is cheap rolled roofing (so probably does hv chemicals, thanks 4 the reminder, sometimes the obvious alludes me) . I'm hoping to make a trough style/looking gutter from cedar slabs (free 2 us Here in rural hell Lol -Maine, coastal if info helps) Thinking a bead of chaulking down center will prevent leaking, is silicon ok do u know? Thanks for any help/advice. We can use it ;)& will b Much appreciated. MsJan

You might find your watering system more effective if you raise your barrel, then attach it to a drip hose instead. The gravity feed from the barrel (providing it's got enough water in it) is enough to work a drip system pretty well.

If you want to run a seeper hose to take care of overflow, you can putt a second 'overflow' barrel next to the first - connected by a very short length of hose near the top. Connect a seeper hose at the bottom of the overflow barrel. You will still have a full barrel for squirt guns and watering by using the faucet at the bottom of the first barrel, but excess water won't be running out over the top of the first barrel because it doesn't have enough pressure to move through a long hose.

rain barrels.jpg

I made mine with a square can so it would sit against the house. I have the screen-ended downspout coming into a hole in the upper left side of the back wall so I still have the ability to remove the lid. About 1/2 inch lower than the downspout hole on the right side of the back wall is connected the overflow which feeds right into the original downspout of the house, leading it away from the foundation. The can itself sits atop a 3 foot stand, so the gravity feed through a hose connected to the spicket is sufficient enough for one of those "seeping" hoses that runs through the vegetable garden. When I need oomph I hook my power washer to it, and the gravity feed is enough to reach the pump. Free water is awesome! Your design is very clean. Wish I would have seen it before I built mine.