Bay Branch Farm

a vegetable farm in lakewood and cleveland, oh | we grow food

how to make rain barrels

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this post outlines how we set up rain barrels for collecting rain water off the roof of a garage.

water access at the plot has been an issue…. we are definitely not going through the expense to get city water hooked up and we have not cozied up to the neighbors quite enough yet to consistently borrow an outdoor spigot, so our solution for this season is to install a couple of rain barrels using the roof of an adjacent property, which our neighbor agreed with.

a friend secured a couple of 55 gallon drums. finding a cheap, reliable supply of barrels seems like an easy task, but i have yet to find one close to home…..at the house we have a couple of open barrels with screened covers for mosquito suppression yet no real overflow device. this set up works well at home, but at the plot i wanted something more high tech. i opted for closed air-tight barrels.

essentially a tube is connected to our neighbor’s gutter to allow water to enter the barrels. as the barrels fill, the tube fills and then the rain in the gutter simply passes over the hole for the tube and continues down the gutter and out the downspout as it normally would. also the water entry tube is the only air connection to the barrels so when emptying the barrels, the water drains easily. other than that one intake, the barrels are air tight.

after much planning and drawing and a couple of trips to lowes, i ended up with this mess of PVC fittings.

try explaining this project to the local hardware store!

try explaining this project to the local hardware store!

props to this dude for an inexpensive bulkhead fitting. i used the bulkhead fitting on the connection to the gutter and on the outlet at the bottom of the barrels.

all hooked up and ready to install

all hooked up and ready to install

the platform was salvaged on trash night from a neighbor down the street who was tossing some old saw horses. i cut them so they were a bit shorter and screwed them together on the top with some 2X4s and on the bottom with 2X8s, in hopes that this evenly distributes the 800+ lbs of weight of the barrels when full.

view of fittings underneath barrels

view of fittings underneath barrels

spigot attached to base

spigot attached to base

3/4″ PVC pipe for the outlet, the straight ball valve will give good strong flow (the home unit has a hot water tank spigot and i’ve been pretty disappointed with the amount of water we get out of it).

pipe fittings for water intake

pipe fittings for water intake

1″ PVC pipe on the top. here i drilled 1 1/8″ holes for the NPT threaded PVC fitting and used a gasket just to be sure (and a bunch of caulk in the end)

gutter fitting and dam made of caulk

gutter fitting and dam made of caulk

gutter attachment

gutter attachment

the gutter attachment is 1 1/2″ electrical fitting with a tube drain gasket on the bottom. the holes will hopefully allow more water to enter the barrels even in a light rain. also added the “caulk dam” to insure water really gets in there.

ready to roll....

ready to roll....

here is the system all hooked up. we have since had rain and used it to irrigate another unsuccessful carrot planting. the carrots failed but the rain barrels are a smashing success. upon reflection i would probably use tubing instead of hard PVC pipe. we are better prepared to hook up our planned 650 gallon poly tank for next year.

got questions or suggestions for improvements, please leave us a comment and thanks for reading!

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One thought on “how to make rain barrels

  1. Great pics! I will use them for my plans. BTW, the PD article that I told you about is at http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-2/1246609921254460.xml&coll=2.

    hhp

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