Gutterless Rain Barrel - a "Drain Barrel"




Introduction: Gutterless Rain Barrel - a "Drain Barrel"

About: I sit at my desk at the clinic for six hours a day; often, during the middle of the day, you can find me drawing a new idea on a scrap of paper. I enjoy making projects and fixing things around the house. ...

I wanted to share instructions on how to build a "drain barrel" for those of you who may not have gutters on your house.  This project is most useful for those of us who have a clearly-defined gouge in our wood chips where the water pours off the roof.

Step 1:

Purchase three cedar decking boards and screw them together in the shape of a trough. Seal all joined edges with a clear silicone caulk.

Step 2:

Obtain containers in which the capture the rainwater; it would be best to find containers with about a 2" opening.

Step 3:

Line up the containers and measure the distance between the center of the containers' openings. Leave about 1/2" per container for expansion.  Measure the diameter of the container's opening and use a hole saw (attached to the drill) to make holes in the trough.

Step 4:

Purchase a 10' length of PVC pipe. It should be slightly less in diameter than your hole. Count the number of holes and divide evenly. Cut the PVC into equal lengths.  Purchase a narrowing PVC conduit to glue to the top of your pipes.  Drill two holes in the widest part of the conduit and use a miter saw to remove the material between the holes. This will make a slit to help drain the water into the pipe and ultimately into your container.

Step 5:

Construct some simple "feet" to attach to the ends of the trough. If you drill a hole in the middle of the end of the trough, you will be able to swivel the trough up-side-down on the lag bolt to prevent snow from weighing the trough down during the winter.  Dig a hole on both ends for the "feet", level the trough, and add concrete to prevent the structure from moving during a hard rain.

Step 6:

Rake the area under the trough so that you can remove the containers easily. Insert the PVC pipe, and add metal menders if you like to ensure the container's slit stays level with the trough. When it rains, the water will be directed from the trough, into the PVC pipe and then into your container.  When the container is full, lift the PVC pipe out of the mouth of the container, remove the container, and water your plants.  When the container is empty, put it back under the trough and slip the PVC pipe back down into the mouth of the container.  If you like, you can purchase a rain barrel with which to pour the full containers.



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    49 Discussions

    Here's an idea, why not use a real gutter in place of the wood trough, a ten foot section with end caps is only about $10. That would save the cost of the lumber and silicone. It's just a thought, thanks for sharing your cool idea!

    4 replies

    duh! some houses are governed by lords of the land or HOAs that have the stupidest rules for attaching gutters to the houses (or leaving trash cans outside your gate for more than a day, but that's another article). I'm sure this person thought of that before building. who knows? maybe this is a project for those that are afraid of heights?

    @CormacF Devbert didn't say to hang the gutter, he said to use it instead of the wood.

    I think guttering is for the win - saves making guttering. Also easier to make the spouts to go to the rain collectors, you could use PVC cement to glue some 3" lengths in place.

    PS: I'm thinking the white PVC guttering not the metal kind.

    What about using empty milk containers or cat litter containers? This might work well for my greenhouse, running line (like used for refrigerators) to each area of the plant area would water them. A simple clip would cut the water until you're ready to water the plants. I have a piece of gutter... and plenty of cat litter containers and refrigerator water line. Hurry up spring!

    the only problem with this build is that all containers must be removed and stored before algae begins to grow due to their being frosted. Using a container that doesn't allow the sunshine thru will help prevent this problem. Also remember to screen the top to help prevent debre and mosquitos.

    Please can you tell me what kind of containers you used and where you got them?

    by the way very nice.

    1 reply

    try your local ice cream stand I get mine 3 for $1.00

    I have containers just like this!! I get mine from my local ice cream stand 3 for $1.00. they are old oil jugs

    FREAKING COOL!!!! I live in a double wide with a metal roof and was trying to figure out how to do this...THANK YOU...pure awesome!!!!

    Have you thought about any way to filter the water before it goes into the containers? Maybe a flow thru type arrangement filled with sand for a filter? I know sand is still used as a primary filtering mechanism in many water systems in the US. Other than that, great idea to keep beds from being washed out and capturing rainfall for drinking or just watering...

    I think i would be using really big wide funnels on each container to catch the rain then i can wash the funnels out .... and know the water is as clean as it could be beyond a leaf, or a bug or a bird that enjoys flying and pooping while its raining

    I really love this 'ible! You wouldn't believe how many houses in our area do not have guttering on them. Huzzah for this idea!

    Do you have an outflow set up in the event all of the containers fill up with runoff or does it just overflow the trough and run down the sides?

    Those with shake roofs should be careful what they use the collected water for. Shakes are impregnated with chemicals to resist moss buildup and rot and those chemicals could potentially leach out into your water.

    Perfect!! I wanted to install rainbarrels when we moved, but none of the houses we looked at had gutters (I guess that is a Texas thing?). this is much more affordable than adding gutters to the house.