Redirect Water From a Raingutter to a Rain Barrel




I have a shed on a remote country garden that has no pumped water on it.  The garden is fairly large and we need water for the plants during dry periods.  We decided to put rain gutters on the shed and a series of three rain barrels behind the shed to collect the water.  You can see the technique I presented in the instructable Tandem Rain Barrels
to see how I used PVC pipe to connect one barrel to the next in tandem.  At the end of that tutorial I mentioned that I applied the lessons learned on the two barrel system I had at home to the three barrel system at the garden shed.

We put up a 12 foot gutter along the roof line at the back at the back of the shed and used a traditional downspout  to send water directly down into the first barrel.  We were lamenting the fact that we were only collecting half the water that was possible but were concerned about how we would get the water from a front gutter back to the same set of barrels.  We definitely did not want to have barrels out front where they could be easily seen.  After thinking about it for a while, we decided to use PVC pipe to solve the problem.

BTW, this very same shed is the target of another instructable where I showed how to install solar panels from Harbor Freight on it.  You can see this at:

Step 1: Materials Needed

Here are the materials that I used:

All pipes and connectors are half inch here. 

A gutter that ends in a flat end piece

A PVC connector that is threaded male on one end and non-threaded female on the other end

A PVC connector that is female threaded on both ends

A half-inch right-angle PVC connection that is threaded male on one end and non-threaded female on the other

Sufficient length of PVC pipe to reach on a slant to where the barrels are.  If need to join two pipes together, you will need straight PVC connector that is female non-threaded on both ends

Two right angle PVC connectors that are female non-threaded on both ends

A piece of PVC to direct the water down to the opening of the barrel

Note: depending on the physical location of the front gutter and of the first barrel, you will need to get creative and make modifications in the parts needed.

Step 2: Constructing the Diversion

Most rain gutters terminated in a piece that connects to the downspout.  Since we didn't want to run a traditional downspout to the back of the shed, we capped the end of the gutter with flat end panel.  Following the design of connecting pipes for tandem barrels,   We drilled a 13/16th inch hole in the flat panel at the end of the gutter fairly close to the bottom of it. 

Insert the male threaded end of a PVC connector that has a non-threaded female end.  The threaded end will stick outside the panel.  To this connect a straight connector that is female threaded on both ends.  Tighten this as much as you can.  The hole should be just the right size to form a water-tight connection but you might want to caulk it.  The water coming through it won't be under any pressure.

Now take a right angle connector that is male threaded on one end and female non-threaded on the other.  Screw this connector onto the one coming through the end panel.  You should be able to rotate the right-angled connector to the angle that points to above the top of the barrel at the back of the shed.

You now want to insert a long piece of PVC pipe that will lead back to the rear of the shed.  I was able buy a 10 ft section but, despite the fact that the shed is 10 feet wide, it was not long enough because it was starting about a half foot in front of the shed and going back on an angle.  We simply able to join the long pipe to a shorter one with a straight connector that is female non-threaded on both ends.  This length of pipe will naturally sag, so you will have to support it in a few places along its length.  We did this by partially screwing some 3 inch screws into the side of the shed in the right places. 

Finally, you will have to make a right angle connection that will extend over the right place above the barrel and then another right angle connection that points down towards the barrel.  I suggest that you not actually insert the down pipe into the barrel itself because you will be wanting to remove the lid to get water and to check the level.  With these rain barrels it doesn't matter if the water coming down goes directly into the hole in the lid.  The lip of the hole is lower than the outside rim of the lid.  The water will overflow into the barrel first before it runs out of the lid.

We didn't glue any of the connections together because friction seems to hold everything in place and there isn't much water pressure.

You might want to choose 3/4th inch pipes and connectors if you have a much larger roof.  This is adequate for what we have (120 square foot roof).



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      8 Discussions


      6 years ago on Introduction

      I want to install my own rain collection barrels.. But how do you keep the leaves and other depris from getting into the barrel??
      I got a few ideas that I want to try but it would be much nicer if someone already figured it out..

      1 reply

      Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

      The simplest way is to put some sort of screen over the hole where the water from the downspout enters the barrel. This also is used to keep mosquitoes from getting into the barrel to lay eggs.


      8 years ago on Introduction

      A rain barrel is easy to instal and there is not much to say about it… but seeing a beautiful cottage like yours is something to remember !…

      congratulations !…

      1 reply

      8 years ago on Introduction

      I have heard you shouldn't use water from asphalt shingle-roofs for vegetables or plants you plan to eat.


      3 replies

      Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

      I've never heard that. I think asphalt shingles are pretty inert and get cleaned regularly by rain. It seems like all green gardeners use rain water like this for their vegetable gardens and who has a roof that isn't made of asphalt shingles?


      Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

      I did a "build your own rain barrel" class through Rutgers extension office. They instructors were pretty emphatic about NOT using the water you collect from a regular (asphalt shingle) roof for plants you intend to eat. Shrubbery was fine, ornamentals, etc...of course this was all stated after I paid the 20 bucks for the barrel. Upon further Googling I see it is a common belief. Here is one site: (

      I found your instructable when I was looking for solar panels and rain barrels (coincidentally for my own shed.) I may make a corrugated fiberglass on a frame/overlay to go around my harbor freight solar panels if enough light can go through to be used by the panels. This way, if the fear of the asphalt shingles is sound, I can collect the rainwater from the fiberglass sheets into my barrel while still using the panels!

      I also have a composter on the side of my shed along with a watering system for my bees (I have 2 hives going) I call it: ECOSHED!


      Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

      I read the various discussions on the dangers of using runoff from asphalt shingles. I can see where contaminants in the air that settle on the roof is a possible danger but it's a needless worry because those very same contaminants are falling naturally on the garden. If you have a metal roof or metal flashing, that could be a source of heavy metals into the garden. However, the warnings about the components in the asphalt shingles causing a hydrocarbon danger are vague without any specifics. You would think that after the first few seasons of rain, this danger would diminish. Also, it isn't as if the rain is pooling on the roof and sitting there. In a steady rainfall, the water is only on the asphalt shingles for a few seconds before it runs off into the gutter and then into the barrel.

      If there really is a danger, we might as well bag the whole idea of rain barrels for gardens since the vast majority of the roofs in the US are covered with asphalt shingles. That's not true in a lot of other countries where they use tile.