Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are effective ways of gathering rain water from the gutters on your roof. You can use this rain water to fill a watering can or to irrigate your garden by attaching a hose or soaker hose. According to the Southwest Florida Water Conservation District, a 1/2" rainfall will fill a 50-55 gallon rain barrel. 

Rain barrels cut down on the use of water from your municipal or well systems resulting in you saving some cash. I knew that would get your attention.

Make your own rain barrel by following these steps.

Find a 55 gallon food grade plastic barrel with a lid. Check on Craigslist or food manufacturing companies for these barrels. You may pick them up for free just so the company or supplier can get rid of them. If purchased, expect to pay about $10. each. You do not want a barrel that contained chemicals. Be sure to get a dark color because light or clear barrels will allow light to grow pipe-clogging algae.

Locate the barrel near your garden, flower beds, or containers.

You will need:
1. Four cement blocks stacked in two layers for a platform. Blocks are 8"x8"x16" each making a 16" square surface to support the weight of a full barrel of water. This sturdy platform raises the barrel off the ground allowing space fill a container or to attach a hose to the spigot.
2.  1/2" male spigot
3.  1/2" flat spade bit or wood bit
4.  1" male PVC adaptor
5.  1" street PVC elbow
6.  2 to 3 feet of 1" PVC pipe
7.  Metal or wood sabre saw blade

The downspout will enter the rain barrel through the lid, so trace the outside of the downspout on the lid closest to the outside of the barrel, then cut with the sabre saw.  Snip the downspout so that it will be about 3-4 inches inside the barrel. Before you begin the next steps, take time to flush out the barrel by partially filling it with water and then dumping it out through the downspout hole washing out any material/debris collected in the bottom. You may disinfect with a solution of bleach and water if you wish. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.

For the overflow pipe, drill a hole large enough to thread the male adaptor into it two inches from the top of the barrel. Place the street elbow facing down into the adaptor. Place the pipe inside the adaptor.

Drill a hole two inches from the bottom of the barrel for the spigot. This will not allow debris settled on the bottom to enter and clog the spigot. Caulk the threads to seal the opening. Wait 24 hours to allow caulking to dry.

Place a screen in the gutter before the outlet to catch leaves and debris. Even with all the precautions to keep debris out of the water, it is a good idea to dump out and wash out the barrel once in awhile to keep the over flow pipe and spigot clear and free running.

For the finishing touch, the artist in the family, can paint some garden designs, flowers, butterflies, bees, etc. to decorate if you wish.

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