For those of you who would like to take a turn at building your own rain barrel after reading about our Rain Barrel System, here is your shopping list:
- (1) 55 gallon food grade plastic drum/barrel off of Craigslist $15
- (1) 10 foot 3/4 inch CPVC pipe: $6.07
- A handful of 90 degree CPVC elbows: $2
- (1) CPVC Tee joint: $.50
- (1) can of PVC cement and primer: $6.37
- (1) male CPVC adapter: $.50
- (1) 3/4 inch CPVC ball valve: $3
- A couple 3/4 inch CPVC couplings: $1
- Make sure your barrel is Food-Grade - had nothing to do with carrying hazardous chemicals or oils. Soy sauce, pickles, molasses, soft drink syrup, etc. are all fine – just rinse them out well!
- Flip the barrel upside down and drill a 3/4 inch hole in the bottom of the barrel, 4 or 5 inches from the edge. This spot is usually a little bit higher than smack dab in the center of the barrel, which will allow a low space for debris to settle for a couple of years before you have to clean it out. Don’t worry, stuff won’t accumulate very fast at all. It’ll be mostly airborne dust and the grit from asphalt shingles getting in there.
- Attach the CPVC male adapter to the barrel by twisting the adapter into the hole with some elbow grease. You may need to widen the hole ever so slightly, but keep the fitting pretty tight. Some instructions will tell you to buy a pipe threader and thread the hole in the barrel to fit the male adapter into it. I tried this a couple of times, and found that it’s pretty hard to cut good clean threads into a 1/4 inch thin plastic wall.
- Now surround the outside of the fitting and the hole with silicone caulk or sealant and let it cure. If you can open the barrel and reach inside to the bottom of the barrel, you can also attach a rubber gasket and a female adapter to the male end on the inside to create a leak-proof seal. I skipped this part, because the barrels I have aren’t the type that open, and the silicone sealant on the outside will hold.
- Build a bench for the barrel(s) to sit on while you’re waiting for the silicone to cure*
- Place the barrel onto the bench with the newly attached pipe adapter fitting between the slats, when your bench is ready and your barrel is cured. This is when you have to start measuring pipe lengths and dry fitting corners and things together.
- Drop the pipe under the table a few inches, and send a horizontal pipe to the side to connect multiple barrels. If you only have one barrel, then just send the pipe out to the front of the bench and attach a ball valve to the pipe and then a downward-facing corner piece for the spigot. If you have multiple barrels, or plan on having them in the future, use a Tee joint from the horizontal pipe to send a pipe out to the front of the bench for the ball joint and spigot, and attach each additional barrel with Tee joints, leaving a length of pipe at the end of the horizontal pipe with a cap.
This way, if you want to add even more barrels in the future, you just have to cut the cap off and keep going! Once you’ve measured, cut, and dry-fit all of your pieces, go ahead and prime and cement all of the pipes together!
*Tips for Building a Bench for the Barrels
- Make sure to use sturdy pieces of wood that will hold a couple hundred pounds of water. (If 1 gallon = 8 lbs, then 50 gallons = 400!) I used reclaimed 2x4s for the top, and 4x4s for the legs of the benches.
- Leave spaces between the slats on the top of the bench to fit your piping through.
- Build the bench to stand a couple of feet off the ground so you gain more water pressure and so you can fit a watering can or bucket underneath the spigot, but not so high that you can’t fit the barrels underneath your downspouts!
- Also make sure to allow enough length on the legs to sink them into the ground about a foot or so, for stability. There’s nothing worse than a heavy wood table and 400+ lbs of water falling over on anybody..
In Part 2 we will discuss:
- connecting the system to your gutters or downspouts
- overflow piping
- and mistakes that we made and how we might do better next time!
We recently participated in the following blog hops:
Week of 5/19/13: