Easy Rain Barrel




Do you have an extra 55 gallon barrel sitting in the basement? Maybe it's time to start conserving water by making a rain barrel to use to water your garden! This is an inexpensive way to conserve water and provide a clean source of water for your yard/garden.

There are lots of ways to convert your barrel into a usable rain barrel, but these instructions will show you the simplest way to do it. This method only requires drilling two holes (one if you use a utility knife), and it doesn't require cutting a huge hole in your barrel.

Step 1: Parts List

The first step is to round up all the parts that are required. Here's a list:

Food Grade Barrel
1" ID (Inner Diameter) Hose
3/4" Drill Bit (optional, Utility Knife can be used instead)
1" Drill Bit
Nylon 3/4" MIP to 1" Barb Adapter
3/4" Hose Bib
Rain Water Diverter (can be bought or made. It is important that the diverter handles overflow when the barrel fills up)

Total Cost:
Barrel - $20.00
Hose - $5.76
Adapter - $2.71
Hose Bib - $4.94

Total - $33.41

The diverter can easily cost as much as the rest of the system if it is bought online.

Step 2: Let the Water In

The first step is to make a hole so that water can get into the rain barrel. This is easily accomplished using the MIP to Barb adapter, 3/4" drill bit, and drill.

Notice how one (or both) of the two plugs for the barrel have threads in the middle of it. As it turns out, these threads can be used to connect our water source to the barrel. All that is necessary is to drill out the bottom of the threaded hole using a 3/4" drill bit. It is also possible to use a utility knife to cut out the bottom of this hole (be careful not to damage the threads!).

Now, screw the adapter into the plug. Be sure to put the plug back in the barrel and tighten it before you screw the adapter into the plug. The plug is much easier to tighten into the barrel when the adapter is not installed. This is a good time to make sure the other plug is tightened as well.

Step 3: Letting the Water Out

In this step, the hose bib will be installed to allow the water to be emptied from the barrel.

1. Mark the position where the hose bib should go. Be sure to mount it high enough that the barrel can sit on flat ground without resting on the bib.

2. Drill a 1" hole to mount the hose bib.

3. Screw the hose bib into the barrel

The rain barrel is now ready to be used! How simple was that?

Step 4: Find a Suitable Mounting Spot for the Rain Barrel

It is important that a level location is used for mounting the Rain Barrel. Also, the rain barrel should be elevated as much as possible. By getting the barrel up off the ground, it will allow draining the rain barrel to higher locations. This is especially important if raised beds will need to be watered using captured rain water. The barrel should also be close to the water source (probably right beside the gutter downspout).

Install the rainwater diverter and make the connection from the diverter to the rain barrel.

Enjoy watering your garden/yard with your new Rain Barrel!

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    18 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 3

    I was ready to cut open the barrel from to top only to put some nuts inside and tighten the hose bib in between the wall. I didn't know it was that simple until I read "How simple was that?". Straight to it, Thank you!!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Clear tubing will likely have algae in it - sun + water = algae :-(

    Overflow port should match the volume coming into the barrel http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_overflow_port.php

    there are lots of diverters on the market too: http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_parts_kit_earthminded.php http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_diverter_rectangular_aluminum.php

    Filters that install on the downspout are better then screen tops. If debris lands on the screen top it mats down and water does not enter barrel and overflows the top of the barrel in most cases - http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_downspout_filters_slim_line.php

    metal and plastic do not interface well for very long - suggest you look at a threaded rubber seal for a better, longer lasting seal   http://www.rainbarrelparts.com/product_rbpEM_RSP_seal_threaded_plastic.php

    mr. clean

    9 years ago on Introduction

    what u could do is turn the hose bib 90 degrees then u dont have to worry about a hose not fitting :)


    9 years ago on Step 4

     It's been quite a long time, did you ever create an Instructable for the diverter?  Maybe just a picture and let us see it in detail, if you don't have enough time to document?


    10 years ago on Step 3

    So you just screwed the bib into the wall of the barrel? No nuts from the inside of the barrel? That has been my dilemma into doing this project. I don't want to make a big hole on the top of the barrel just to tight a nut. Is it firm and leakless? Thanks!

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    The wall of the barrel is quite thick. The brass fittings create its own threads in the plastic when screwing it in. Be sure to screw it in as straight as possible. Only use teflon tape as Cromdaddy said. Do not use pipe dope. Or don't use any thread sealant. I did not use any on mine and it has not leaked yet.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    That's correct. I used a little bit of Teflon tape, but I don't think it was necessary. No leaks so far!


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 3

    Cool! I didn't even noticed about the thread in the top plugs until I saw your instructable. A neat trick for sure. One more Q: I guess mosquitos are not an issue here, but what about cleaning some of the roof dirt and leaves that appear from time to time? I have seen projects dumping the rain water first into a bucket, which is not bad, but have you have a secret weapon somewhere? Thanks Cromdaddy!


    This is a great start! I would recommend that everyone interested in rainwater harvesting start small like this, than if they want to go bigger (hooking up drip irrigation, multiple capture points, more reservoir etc.) they will have some basic experience. Could you re-post this how to on our rainwater harvesting community forum? Some of our members really need a simple step-by-step and this one is excellent!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I used a 3"X3"X2" pvc tee to connect to my rain barrel. the top 3" fit over the end of the downspout, the bottom 3" has a pvc pipe going down about 4' with a ball valve on the end, the 2" is on the side at a 45 degree angle, it has a pvc pipe that runs to my rain barrel. the pvc pipe below the rain barrel connection catches the dirt and leaves that wash out of the gutters when it starts raining, after this fills the rest of the water goes into the barrel. after it rains I go out and drain the pipe (into a watering can) with the ball valve. During the winter I leave the valve open so no freezing problems.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable! Looks as if even I could duplicate the set up. You said your rain barrel costs $20.00. I live in San Diego. Where could I get one (or two). There is nothing on the San Diego Craigs List. Local "recycle center" says they can not sell anything (they only provide $ for the usual stuff).


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 4

    I am currently working on an Instructable detailing the water diverter that I built. I hope to have it finished this weekend.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the instructable. I got 2 of the same plastic barrel you have, and just use it for extra rain water storage. I just cap it after it filled up and no insect and no algae for a few weeks until I use all the water up. I do keep it in shade. Looking forward for your water diverter instructable.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I was raised (rural New Zealand) with mainly a rain water house supply, & although now a city softee still always rig up a rain barrel in my garden for convenience & emergencies. Points to note include-

    • DIRT & LEAVES mean the need to lift the barrel lid & occasionally clean the interior ( thus avoid narrow top opening barrels!)
    • Insects ( especially mosquitos )& green algae
    • Easy down pipe auto filling & access - water flow to convenient spots can be a hassle.
    • A decent storage tank "head" for simple gravity draining.
    • Strength of support structure (water of course is HEAVY, as 1 litre weighs 1kg!)
    • Water purity- nasties may accidently enter from bird droppings or gutter rubbish etc.
    • Winter freezing & tank splitting. Not a problem in the snow free region I live, BUT ...
    • Hassles if the tank leaks or spills or the stand collapses- it happens...

    Overall plan hence accordingly, or start small & learn as you go ! Stan.