Monday, July 12, 2010

DIY Rain Barrels

On a 1000 square foot roof, an inch of rain yields approx. 600 gallons of water that can be collected! Perfect for watering landscaping plants etc. where fresh water isn't necessary. Captured rain from food grade barrels can also be a good backup plan for earthquake/ disaster preparedness. It can be very inexpensive and easy to assemble a rain catchment system. I was inspired by and learned a lot by looking around online at different folks designs. Here's one I built in my backyard.

1st trace an outline of the bucket on the barrel top. drill starter holes then use jigsaw to cut out circle

next drill or cut 3/4" hole near bottom of barrel and screw in 3/4" adapter. seal it inside and out. apply teflon tape to threading and attach hose bib

next cut off lower half of 5 gallon bucketcut a piece of screen lay it over hole and insert bucket into the barrel. this way any debris gets collected on the screen.

trace the gutter elbow onto a side of the bucket top and cut out hole. replace lid on bucket and insert gutter elbow. seal elbow to bucket on platform. i used 4 concrete cinder blocks. insert downspout gutter into gutter elbow.

materials needed:
55 gallon barrel (food grade preferably, check sites like Craigslist etc. for free/used materials)
5 gallon bucket w lid
4 concrete cinder blocks
mesh screen
3" rain gutter elbow
3/4" hose bib
3/4" male metal or pvc adapter
waterproof sealant
teflon tap

tools needed:
drill with 3/4" bit

notes: 3 add ons to consider- 1. add a "1st flush" unit which collects the first runoff allowing for cleaner water in the barrel 2. insert an adapter pipe near the top of the barrel for runoff after barrel is full 3. chain additional barrels together for more water storage capacity with adapter pipe near the top or adapter pipe and hose.


  1. Great article. Thanks! I love your site. Can you give instructions on how to build the "first flush" system?

  2. i have seen these online but i have not made them myself. i manually switch over after an hour of rain.