How to build a rain barrel

Discussion in 'Water Filtering & Storage' started by kyhoti, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    City of Roswell, GA - Official Website

    This is the link to a community enrichment activity that I am attending this week; it's $35 and you get the rain barrel at the end of the session. Real hands-on instruction, plus a rain barrel, for that price? I said: Bonus! Apparently, it's a partnership with a local bottling plant and the county and state environmental folks. Woohoo!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2010
  2. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

    Cool. Guess I really need ta get some rain gutters up an make a couple a them!

  3. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    The part about 1 inch of rain from 1000 sq.ft. of roof being a several hundred gallons is what got me. If I get my way (meaning if momma kyhoti lets me), I will set these up so that I can drain them into a cistern out back, which I have plans for but have not had time to build. I won't have gravity feed back out of the cistern, but there's pumps for that.
  4. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    This project was soooo easy. My son and I had it together in 10 minutes. Mind you, they had already washed, cut out and drilled for the fittings, but with one cut and one hole to drill, it wouldn't have taken more than 30 minutes from scratch. Now, to find a good source for used poly drums!
  5. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    with 7.48 gallons per cubic foot...

    1000 x 1/12 = 83.3 (rounded)

    83.3 x 7.48 = 623.1 (again, rounded)

    rain barrels can get full very fast :D
  6. Clarice

    Clarice Well-Known Member

    We have plans to put two in our chicken yard to drain the water off the chicken house so we won't have to carry buckets of water for the "girls". It would be great to have some up by the house to water my herb garden etc. So much to do so little time.
  7. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    I'd be wary of watering livestock with roof water, especially if it's coming off tar shingles. At the very least, I'd get the cooperative extension to test it for potabilty before I gave it to my critters. Our county office specified that roof water is NON-potable and for irrigation only, due to possible contamination from bird and squirrel feces. Ewwww, right?
  8. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    :scratch Call me confused ...

    If a dog is happy lapping up water from a puddle in the road and it doesn't get sick and chickens are happy beakin' bugs from the ground that they crapp'd on - why would there be a problem with "contamination" from water flowin' off of a shingle-roof?
  9. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    The problems lie in several areas. First, dogs do get sick from drinking stagnant water (giardiasis among others). Second, cross-species proliferation of disease from fecal contamination, especially in birds, is a bad thing. Third, because other species roost on roof-tops, their feces could be concentrated in that area, resulting in an above-averafe number of fecal colliform colonies (or other pathogens) in the roof-water, not to mention chemical leaching from the shingles. Whereas the soil will contain these added items when watering a garden, direct transmission to live stock could yield damaging results.
  10. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    :dunno: I guess that makes sense.

    Now, if you had a tin-roof to gutters to the water-tanks - would you have to worry about contamination in that water?

    A friend of mine has concrete water-stations for the animals on his acreage that self-fill off of a pump from the well. The water at the "ends" is usually fairly stagnant compared with the water closest to the pump. As far as I know, he hasn't had troubles with sick animals due to the water-supply and birds use those water-stations as much as the dogs, horses, etc.
  11. kyhoti

    kyhoti Member

    All I'm saying is that before giving any water source to my animals, unless I knew for a dead-on fact that it was clean, I'd get a few samples checked, just like folks do with well water. Better that than sick critters, or sick me after I eat said critters!
  12. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    That's how we water the goats. I put a metal roof on the barn/shed and let the water run directly into a 100 gallon stock tank. It's been that way for 2 years and no problems. But then the goats get a weekly dose of "dirt" (DE) which may make a difference. :dunno:
  13. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

    Well ya know, some folks see their dog chewing on a chicken they kick it's *** and beat the crap out of it with the dead chicken, then there is them folks that take their dog to the dogie shrink to look for deep seated issues that could cause such anti-chicken misbehavior.

    As a people we have become so scared of a bit of dirt we won't let our kids play in it which is a shame of course.

    As for the tree rat poop on the roof, I've never seen nor heard of a rain water saving plan that did not mention allowing the first bit run off before starting the collection part.

    If they didn't cover that at the course yawl took they sorta dropped the ball, but regardless, good deal!!!
  14. JeepHammer

    JeepHammer Well-Known Member

    Rain catchment is a big part of what we do around here!
    Rain normally goes into tanks (underground for the most part) for watering garden, livestock, cleaning shop/equipment, ect.

    Since we have a well for drinking water, keeping 'Utility' water really stretches our 'Fresh' or 'Potable' water supply.

    An angled screen under the gutter that collects the rain water will screen off most debris like leaves, twigs, ect.

    A PVC 'Wash' station will allow the first 10 or 20 gallons to divert out of the catchment system so bird crap, dust, ect. doesn't wind up in your storage tank.

    I made mine out of PVC and a kids ball, it's VERY easy to build.

    The water in the tanks will spoil after a while, so adding some bleach to the water will keep it 'Fresh' much longer if you don't get regular rain.
    Also, keeping it underground will keep it much cooler, and away from light that algae (green slime) needs to grow.

    Water catchment is a fact of life for us since we are 'Off Grid'.
    We have a lake that we can depend on, but it's not nearly as clean as the rain catchment.


    55 to 60 gallon POTABLE water rain barrels run about $80 around here, so the class and the free barrel is a VERY good deal!

    We didn't worry about Potable water when we did our rain catchment/storage system...
    Since we have the well...

    Water is a POWERFUL solvent, so the more PVC you can use, the better off you will be. Standing water goes acidic pretty quickly and it will rape metal pipes/fittings pretty quickly.

    If you use copper, then there are copper poisoning issues, along with the lead based solder used with copper pipes.

    PVC isn't without 'Issues', but it's the cleanest of the common options you can do yourself...


    'Wash Out' column is nothing more than a 8" or 10" piece of vertical PVC with a reducer at the top and clean out plug/cap at the bottom.

    You glue on an end cap (clean out hole if you are thinking ahead) at the bottom, drill a 1/4" hole about 3" from the bottom, and drop in a kids rubber ball large enough it won't fit through the reducer at the top.

    Just above the reducer, you put in a 'T'.

    As the vertical column fills up with the 'Wash Off' from the roof,
    The ball plugs up the column at the reducer at the top,
    And the 'Clean' water diverts into your catchment system.

    The 1/4" hole at the bottom lets the 'Wash Off' water drain out (Slowly) when the rain stops, and the system re-sets it's self without you having to turn valves or get home to set it up when rain comes.

    At the top, just under the gutter drain, you have an open box with an angled metal grate.
    The water draining out of the gutter falls through the grate,
    The leaves, sticks, bird feathers, ect. all wash off the grate and exit your water catchment system and don't wind up in the 'Wash Off' Tank.

    Once the column fills (10 or 20 gallons to wash a roof most times),
    The rubber ball floats up with the water collecting in the column,
    And plugs the top when the water level reaches that high.

    Since the ball can't escape through the pipe reducer, it plugs off the contaminants in the clean out water container,
    And a 'T' in the pipe just above the pipe reducer, and when the ball plugs the reducer, the 'Clean' water diverts to your catchment without you having to be home to switch valves.

    Since there is a drain hole in the bottom of the wash off tank,
    The tank will eventually drain it's self, resetting the system for the next rain!
    Automated is GREAT, and automated without having any external power to the system is even better!

    Eventually, (about every 6 months) you will want to take the clean out plug out of the wash off column and clean it out,
    Small stuff, dirt, bird crap, ect. will eventually build up in there, and a plain old screw in clean out plug makes it MUCH easier to clean that out...

    Mine cost me about $80 in parts and about 4 hours to build, but it's pretty elaborate, I'm sure you can do it cheaper and faster if you think it through and make it simple...
  15. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?


    I would love to see pictures of that system that you just described - I think that I have an idea in my head of what you did to accomplish it ...

    On another note, I was just at the local CanadianTire store pickin' up some odds-n-ends and I noticed that they have these "environmentally friendly" rain-catcher barrels. I think to myself "Awesome, a simple way for everyone in the city to get on board and catch the rain". So, I do a wander over to the barrels sitting high up on a shelf and start reading the information glued to the side of it. 40 gallon barrel with a threaded hole for a spigot and a lid that doesn't clamp-down tight, made from a deep brown plastic and a large hole near the top of the barrel for a flex-hose to go from the downspout to the barrel.

    I noticed a few problems with it - the spigot is mounted 5" from the bottom of the barrel - maybe 15 to 20 gallons of water that could be trapped in there for our cold winters and I didn't see a drain on the very bottom - why would there be one there - it was designed to sit on the ground, not above it! No filters incorporated into the design and it also looked easy for skeeters to nest in there!!

    I think that I will stay happy with the barrels situated 8" to 10" above the ground with the hose coming out of the lowest portion of the barrel so that all the water could be used...
  16. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Thanks, Jeep, for the wonderful information. Pictures would be nice too, but your descriptions are exellent and make a lot of sense. I see ways we can improve our own catchment system now.