Backyard Rain Barrel




Introduction: Backyard Rain Barrel

About: Building things to pass the time and sharing the good ones with others.

Acquiring or creating a rain barrel is a really great way to capture water for your garden project. I really enjoy and prefer watering my garden with rain water over city water. You should probably check your local ordinances before endeavoring on this project because not everyone in the world is so open minded about collecting the water that falls on your own property. 

Disclaimer out of the way, let's get started! 

This how to will not include the gutter system, I figure that it's pretty variable depending on the scenario, but the barrel itself is easy and approachable by everyone. 

Step 1: Materials and Step 1

You will need a suitably sized container. 

My choice is a 200 L bioprocess container. It used to hold glucose. 

You can acquire these barrels from various sources. I got mine free from a local manufacturing company. They throw things like this out or back into recycling all the time. Another viable option is a local carwash, they have large barrels for detergent that they need to dispose of all the time. In any case, where ever you get yours, wash the heck out of it before you start watering your food crop with it. 

You will also require: 
Power drill
Rubber mallet
Drill bit (3/4 inch)
teflon tape
3/4 inch spigot union (this is going to be snug fit)
3/4 inch black connectors
plumbers putty
plumbers adhesive 
standard house spigot (which should also fit a 3/4 inch fitting. 

Drill the hole into the barrel near the bottom (but not at the bottom (see figure 2). 
Use the rubber mallet to seat the union through your hole. This will be pretty snug I assure you. Do not bang hard, just take your time. After you've seated your union, teflon tape the threaded bits. 

Step 2: Step 2. Putty

Putty is important. You need to have something pretty innocuous, but you also want to make sure this thing is going to hold water. 

In the first shot, you'll see a black ring that has been fitted over the threaded spigot union. Before this can be threaded on there, the union needs to be generously treated with the plumbers adhesive (comes in a small metal tin, yellow in color USE GLOVES!!) 

After you've fluxed your union, apply the plumbers putty liberally to the two black rings as seen in figure two of this step. 

Then firmly screw the two apposing rings toward one another until they lock against the side of your barrel. This is going to squish your putty out pretty good. As soon as it has, pull off the excess, and reflux the outsside of the union rings with a little more adhesive. Fit your spigot and wait. 

Let dry. For a while. It's important that this be allowed to set for > 45 minutes. Got get a beer and wash your hands of the putty. 
Also while you're gone, you should acquire a minion. Who doesn't like a good minion? 

Step 3: Step 3. Get a Minion.

Minions are important. They are helpful, particularly at holding the hose for a long time so you can prove that your seal is sufficient to hold a lot of water. 

If you can get the barrel to > 1/4 full with no leaks, you are done. Make sure your spigot works. Hurrah! You're done!

If it leaks, (which it shouldn't!) you need to reverse. Pull off your spigot, then pull your putty'd rings off and reseat with new putty and new adhesive. 

Good luck. This whole project takes less than 2 hours including wait time and hauling it up to the hill. Mount your unit onto something like concrete blocks (or even a small deck if you're tremendously handy) The top of the unit should be secure and you may even consider adding fine mesh to the inlet to prevent excess mosquitoes (I've even heard of people rocking solar powered aerators and gold fish to combat that problem.)  

When attached to my small 8 x 7 ft shed with a gutter system, this 200 L barrel will fill with a single decent rain shower. (Not pictured is my small gutter system, I have no pics of its assemblage.) 

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable. Saving rain water is great.
    I've had one of these for many years at my bush cabin. I now use a bent copper pipe with a tap attached as a siphon stuck in the top, after finding the barrel empty one day due to a leak. I don't go there for months at a time, and just pull the pipe out and cover the hole when I'm not there.
    This is a better system if you aren't absent for long periods.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    agreed. Water barrels definitely need to be let dry during unattended periods. I open the valves on this on and turn it upside down for the winter months.

    In your bush cabin do you use the water for washing pots and pans and such?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    ...and showering/washing, tooth brushing and I drink a little as well.


    Reply 6 years ago

    Can you explain more how you set up the system you described for your bush cabin? I have an off-grid cabin and am looking for ideas for a shower.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is really well written!
    If anybody wants some more information I've been using this as my go-to info page:


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    hey thank you ! it was fun and it got my son involved.