A rain barrel collects and stores
stormwater runoff from rooftops. By detaining (temporarily
holding) the stormwater runoff during a rain event, you
can help add capacity to the Boroughs sewer system
and reduce sewer overflows to our creeks and rivers, our
drinking water source. Also, the collected rain water can
be reused for irrigation to water lawns, gardens, window
boxes or street trees.
Building a Rain Barrel
- Rain barrels help lower water
costs when the stored water is recycled for lawn irrigation,
- Rain barrels help reduce water
pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which oftentimes
picks up pollutants in its path, such as oil, grease and
animal waste, and transports these pollutants to the nearest
creek, river or storm drain.
- Storing rainwater for garden and
lawn use helps recharge groundwater naturally.
Materials Needed for Building a Rain
- One 55 gallon drum
- One 5 foot section vinyl garden
- One 4 foot diameter atrium grate
(basket used in garden ponds and pool skimmers)
- One 1/2 inch PVC male adapter
- One 3/4 inch x 1/2 inch PVC male
- One vinyl gutter elbow
- Drill (or a hole saw)
- One 5 foot section of drain hose,
drain line or sump pump line (1 1/4 inch)
- One 1 1/4 inch female barbed fitting
- One 1 1/4 inch male threaded coupling
- Router, jig saw or coping saw
- Measuring tape
- Waterproof sealant (silicone caulk,
- Teflon tape
- Fiberglass window screen material
or mosquito netting
- Cinder blocks or wooden crate
Instructions for Building a Rain Barrel
Step 1: Cut Holes in Rain Barrel:
- Cut lower drain hole: Measure about
1 inch above the bottom of the barrel (55 gallon drum) where
the barrel side begins to rise toward the top, using a 3/4 inch
bit (or hole saw), drill a hole through the barrel.
- Cut upper drain hole: Mark the upper
drain hole according to where you want the overflow to be in
the upper region of the barrel and in relationship to the lower
drain. Use a 1 5/8 inch hole saw to cut out the overflow hole.
- Cut top hole for atrium grate (filter):
Using the atrium grate as a template for size, mark a circle
at the center of the top of the drum (locating the rainwater
inlet in the center of the barrel lets you pivot the barrel
without moving the downspout). Drill a 1/2 inch hole inside
of the marked circle. Use a router, jigsaw or coping saw to
cut until the hole is large enough to accommodate the atrium
grate, which filters out large debris. Dont make the hole
too bigyou want the rim of the atrium grate to fit securely
on the top of the barrel without falling in.
- Cut notch to hold hose: Using 1/2 inch
bit or hole saw, cut out a notch at the top if the barrel rim
(aligned so that it is above the lower drain hole). The notch
should be large enough so that the end of the hose with the
adapter will firmly snap into place.
Step 2: Set Up Barrel and Modify Downspout:
- Set up barrel: Since water will only
flow from the garden hose when the hose is below the barrel,
place the barrel on high ground or up on cinder blocks or a
sturdy wooden crate underneath your downspout, making sure the
barrel is level.
- Modify your downspout: Cut your existing
downspout using a saw so that the downspouts end can be
placed over the top of your rain barrel. Use a vinyl downspout
(usually 3 or 4 inch) to aim the stormwater into the rain barrel
or just simply place the barrel right under the downspout.
Step 3: Assemble Parts:
- Attach garden hose to lower drain hole:
Screw in the 1/2 inch PVC male adapter to the lower drain hole.
The hard PVC threads cut matching grooves into the soft plastic
of the barrel. Unscrew the 1/2 inch PVC male adapter from the
hole. Wrap threads tightly with Teflon tape (optional). Coat
the threads of the coupler with waterproof sealant (optional).
Screw the coated adapter back into the hole and let it sit and
dry for 24 hours (optional). Attach 5 foot garden hose to the
PVC male adapter. Attach the 3/4 inch x 1/2 inch PVC male adapter
to the other end of the hose (this) can be readily adapted to
fit a standard garden hose).
- Attach drain hose (overflow hose) to
upper drain hole: Put the 1/4 inch male threaded coupling inside
the barrel with the threads through the hole. From the outside,
screw the 1 1/4 inch female barbed fitting onto the threaded
coupling. Use silicone on the threads (optional). Attach 5 foot
section of drain hose to upper fitting.
- The overflow must be conveyed safely
away from your property and your neighbors property. Place
a splash pad on the ground under the overflow hose to direct
the flow away from the foundation of your home.
- Place atrium grate and screen in top
hole: Using PVC glue, secure a piece of fine mesh window screen
inside or outside of the atrium grate to filter out debris and
control mosquitoes. Place the atrium grate into the hole (basket
- Position the downspout: Position the
end of your downspout so it drains onto the atrium grate on
the rain barrel.
DONT FORGET TO EMPTY YOUR RAIN BARREL
AFTER A STORM!
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