Monday, August 19, 2013

How to build a rain barrel.

I've written about rain barrels before.  I use them to feed the drip irrigation system in my garden and for watering the chickens and ducks.

The ducks have really increased my need for water.  So I thought I'd get some more barrels.  Instead of buying already made rain barrels I decided to make them myself to save some money.  I started by picking up 3 barrels from a guy on craigslist.

I got two 60-gallon black barrels and a very faded 50-gallon terra cotta barrel.  They were $20 each.

My parts list included:

I started by drilling a 3/4" hole in the barrel.  Then I put the threaded end of the hose bib through the washer.  I applied a bead of silicone to the washer.  After that I simply screwed the hose bib into the hole.
Then I had to reach inside of the barrel and tighten the conduit locknut to the threads of the hose bib.

I bought the short terra cotta barrel with a special use in mind.  I'm going to put it under my deck.  Since it's shorter and will be lower than the rest of my barrels I can't fill it from the bottom.  Water seeks its own level and it would simply spill out over the top.  The solution?  I bought a float valve.
I drilled another 3/4" hole near the top of the barrel and installed the float valve.
I attached a right angle barbed fitting to the float valve.  I'll run irrigation tubing from the other barrels to feed this one.  When the water gets high enough the float valve will close and stop the flow of water.  That will prevent it from overflowing and draining my other barrels.
Here's the completed barrel ready to be put in place.  I didn't bother to drill holes or put a screen on the top.  It's going to be an overflow barrel and won't be catching any rain. 
The hose bib on the next barrel was done in exactly the same way.  It's going in a different location and as of now I won't be putting a float valve on it.  Instead I installed a brass overflow. 
This is going to be another overflow barrel.  I didn't install a screen, but I did drill some tiny holes in the lid to allow rain water to drain in.   It's not going under a downspout so it just needs to handle the water that falls on it.  I'm hoping that a solid top will reduce the amount of pollen that gets into the barrel in the spring.  That was a problem earlier this year.
Close-up of the brass overflow.
The third barrel is still a work in progress.  I got as far as installing the hose bib.  I'd like to put a float valve on it as well, but I don't have one.  It's actually something that I've never been able to find at Home Depot.  I have to travel outside my normal route to get one.

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