Back in September I wrote an article regarding the dire situation in California. (click here if you missed it).  The whole situation got me thinking about water storage and efficient usage.


As I mentioned back then, one way to save up on water usage is to collect rain water. Placing a barrel under a gutter pipe is a good idea, but it limits the amount of water you can store.

Another problem is that rain collection barrels cost a pretty penny and the rain collection systems sold in home improvement stores are way too expensive.

With all of these in mind, I decided to create a gathering system that will be highly efficient and low in cost. You don’t have to be affected by a drought to start cherishing water. You can use rain water for the garden, flushing and it will come in extremely handy in case a disaster hits and the public water supply is cut.

Today, I’ll show you how you can build a simple, yet efficient rain water gathering system, using plain old barrels. And the beauty is that you can connect to it as many barrels as you desire.

Here we go !

Tools

  • Phillips head screwdriver -Link-
  • Adjustable wrench -Link-
  • Scissors
  • Drill with a step-up drill bit (you can use other drilling methods) -Link-

Materials

  • 32 Gallon Heavy Duty Outdoor Trashcans (or any other type of barrel you want) -Link-
  • Glue (e6000 works great) -Link-
  • 1 garden-hose grade shut-off valve – Link-
  • 1old garden hose with the male end (about a foot is great)
  • Hose Mender (I used a 5/8th to 3/4rd inch and it worked great) -Link-
  • Braided Vinyl Tubing with a 1 inch outer diameter and 3/4 inch inner diameter. (about a foot per barrel) – Link –
  • 1 Inflated inner tube (I could not find gaskets big enough for my project, so I just cut my own out of a cheap inner tube) – Link-
  • Now you’ll need to decide how many barrels you want to connect together. You’ll need two connector setups per barrel with the exception of the first. For the first barrel, you’ll only need one connector setup. Each connector setup consists of the following
    • Nylon Hose Barb 3/4 in inner diameter and 3/4 in outer diameter -Link-
    • 1 1 in. washer
    • 1 hose cap -Link-
    • 1 gasket (use inner tube instead if you can’t find one big enough

Step 1: Finding the right spot

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You’ll need to find a generally flat place under a downspout. After that, find something to elevate the barrels from the ground. You can use pallets or something similar. I used some deck foundation blocks and some unused fence posts. Elevating the barrels will increases pressure and helps maintain it when the barrel is less than full, thus giving you a better flow.

Of course you can place the barrels directly on the ground, just make sure that the spot is flat.

Step 2: Making the drain

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This is the little pig-tail that sticks out of the end of the whole jig that you can drain water out of. Making the parts with standard garden-hose size bits will allow you to attach this to mostly anything in the home-and-garden section of your local Home Depot.

1) Open up your hose mender. You’ll notice there are two separate sizes inside.

2) Attach the side with the larger barb to your garden hose bit.

3) Attach the side with the smaller barb to a chunk of vinyl tubing.

4) Here’s the tricky part – Screw the mender on properly for the garden-hose end, but reverse the fitting for the tubing end. This will allow the larger tube to settle in rather snugly. 

Step 3: Making the connector

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1) Take your hose caps and drill a hole in the end. You’ll want this hole to be no bigger than the rubber stopper on the inside of the cap.

2) Cut out some gaskets. This takes a little trial and error, but it’s not too hard. When in doubt, cut the inner ring a little smaller than your nylon barbs, and the outer ring bigger than your washer.

3) Put the washer on the small-end of your barb, the part with the small spiral threads.

4) Squeeze the gasket on after those with rubbery end facing away from the washer.

5) You can screw the hose cap on and set all of these aside, you’ll need them soon.

Step 4: Drilling the holes

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This is a pretty simple step. You’ll want to pick a spot away from any handles on the barrel. You’ll want to stay at least a half inch or above the barrel’s bottom. You want your connectors to go into these holes without having to actually press up against the ground when the barrel is full of water.

You might have to boar out the hole a little after you’ve drilled. They need to be the right size to where the spiral threads of your connectors will go in tightly, but will actually go in.

Step 5: Adding the connectors

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Now you’ll want to actually add glue to the connectors. Make sure to add ample glue to both sides of the gasket. There will be a lot of pressure on these bad boys when the barrel is full, and a little extra water-proofing never hurt anyone.

Next, you’ll want to screw them into the holes you’ve made. This is another one of those “trial and error” sort of things. You are putting a threaded device into an unthreaded hole. It’ll take some elbow grease and likely some cursing to get it to work.

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Once you do get them snugly into the holes, it might not hurt to add a bit more glue. Now screw the hose connectors on to the inside of the barrel. I hope your arms are long enough to do this. If not, my best advice would be to get a long wrench or vice-grips to screw them in. You’ll want to make sure this is very tight, but not so tight that all the glue is squished out of the gasket.

Step 6: Overflow drain

I added another connector to the top of my primary barrel so that, when you get more rain than the barrels can hold, you have the option to drain out the excess, instead of just seeing it leak out the sides of the containers.

Step 7: Putting it together

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Leave everything to dry overnight. While you are waiting, you can use some heavy-duty scissors to cut the lid to one of your barrels so the downspout can fit inside all snugly.

Once nice and dry, connect everything together and get your drain attached. With that you’re all done.

Now take a step back and admire your work. The system that you just build does the same thing as one that would cost several hundred dollars. All you have to do now is wait for the rain to come.

With the help of this serial rain barrel system, you won’t have to worry about water usage when a dry spell hits your area.

Do you know other good methods for collecting rain water? Share your thoughts in the comments section bellow.

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1 Comment

  1. Good tips. A printable option would be great.

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