Houzz TV: How to Install a Rain Barrel
Just think — with 1 inch of rain, you can collect more than 600 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of roof area. Water that otherwise would drain into storm drains and pipes can be used to water your garden. It takes no more than an afternoon, a few materials and some basic DIY skills to install a backyard rain barrel. Follow along as Evan Marks, founder and executive director of the nonprofit The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, California, shows how.
My house is very close to my neighbor's house. Only six feet separate them. A rain barrel that size would block my access to the side of my house. I'd like to see a tall tank that would only project about 10 to 12 inches. Any suggestions?
It is good idea that Houzz shown DIY video of ideas as I like to do DIY to improve my home. Good Job.
Alfred, the 'barrel' can be any shape really.... check out a local supplier of plastic tanks for caravans & campers. Long range fuel tanks will also work. You could also use a series of 12inch pipes plumbed into a battery... 3off 12in dia by 3ft long pipes would hold about 51 gallons. (please check my math, imperial is not my best). You could also use underground tanks with a submersible pump to get the water to an above ground tank where you have more space.
What about filtering the leaves, roof grit, etc.?
FYI, when trying to look for these parts that he uses, I found them both on amazon and home depot under "Rain Barrel Diverter and Parts Kit."
Where did you get the "kit"?
Is there a good option for a house that doesn't have gutters?
Alfred, I have similar space issues in that my rain barrels have to fit along a three foot wide walkway. I found at a big box store a slim rain barrel that is thin, flat, and tall. It's only six inches deep! It's called the Super Thin and Super Slim Contain Rainwater Harvesting Wall. I read the blogs about them and people complained if you connect more than two together the water doesn't flow well. Not sure why that would be but a couple people brought that up so I'm taking their advice. They also recommend that the Slim And Thin be fastened to a wall or fence for support. That works well for me as my walkway butts up against my fence. Perhaps these would work for you.
Loved this HOUZZ TV episode! I would add that all rain barrel users should install a first flush diverter between the downspout and barrel. A first flush diverter flushes out leaves and other roof debris-along with the chemicals this video mentions-before the water enters your rain barrel. Keeps the water as safe and clean as can be!
I enjoyed the video and found it very useful for people who live in areas where water is at a premium. Good DIY show! Keep 'em coming.
Only just starting my research so please excuse the ignorance: I don't have a down spout from my front porch. 1) can I use an open top barrel (or does debris/bacteria get in?) and 2) is there something more attractive than blue plastic for the front of my house. I'm OK with being eco-flamboyant (I have solar panels and a beehive in the front of my house), but I'd rather something wooden or at least more discrete for the front of my house. Thanks for your help!
Really useful video! I was hesitant, but now I'm sure I can do this!
Good how to video! The flexible, threaded bushings are key, my other rain barrels leak a bit and you just solved the problem. Timely article. I wish you had added the kit to the related products I see at the side of my screen.
ETM Management, there's a nice wooden one and other designs in the Houzz Shop: http://www.houzz.com/photos/rain-barrels
We've been using ours for the past three years. I covered ours with a flexile screen mesh to keep out mosquitos and leaves. Works great! Hope this helps.
Got my kit and barrel and installation kit at The Ecology Center. Installed just before the last rainfall and It's already full! Great video. The whole project took about a half an hour!
Hi Pengle, these rain barrel kits are available on our site: http://theecologycenter.goodsie.com/
Hi Marknoh, with this system you will manage the leaf debris, and roofing grit at the rain gutter rather than at the rain barrel. If you have a large tree above your roof/rain gutters, a bi-yearly clean out should suffice. Good luck!
When I lived in Oregon, we used food grade plastic barrels from the feed store and put mesh over the opening to keep debris out. Here in Nevada, it's technically illegal to install rain barrels to capture rain...even though we have been in a 4 year drought. Crazy. I did find a couple of beautiful rain barrels that also double as planters in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog (Rain Reservoir Planter) and at Tractor Supply (Rain Wizard Urn) .
Hi Walloroo1. It's hard to harvest a sufficient amount of rain water without rain gutters. Installing gutters is fairly easy, especially if you start with only one section of the house, adjacent to where you'd like to harvest and use your rain water. Does that help?
If you don't have gutters, of course you can catch falling rain water from your roof with open buckets or barrels.
Like Michele, I also live in Nevada (having grown up in Oregon) and, yes, we technically cannot capture rainwater although a bill will be introduced in the next legislative session to change that. This does not stop me! I have been collecting rainwater (under gutter spouts) in simple plastic 32 - 50 gallon trash cans for many years. This has not only saved money but, more importantly, allowed me to keep our trees and shrubs alive over our extended drought. I have a fairly large suburban garden and pay less for water than my neighbors who think I spend a fortune. Rainwater, mulch, and waiting to clean up the garden until spring to hold in winter moisture has proven to be a winning strategy in Northern Nevada!
You can also paint your rain barrel if you don't like the "blue" to match your home or what ever you like. I have 2 55 gal barrels connected and the overflow from one fills the other. I have house plants that don't tolerate the fluoride and chlorine of city water so this is great for them and my raised beds outside as well. Not to mention the softness of your hair if you use rainwater to shampoo.
It's illegal (yes, ILLEGAL) to install rain barrels in Colorado. Purportedly we are stealing water from users downstream. However, you can turn on your hose and let it run down the street all day long. No waste here!
I'm in the early stages of rain barrel experimentation. I have one large blue barrel and a large plastic trash can (20 gallon I think). Both sit next to the house to collect free rain water as well as draining from the room (no gutters). I protect the top of the barrel with nylon screen covering the opening and held in place with (brace yourself) underwear elastic (size 44 fits nicely). When there is enough water to harvest I dip it out with a small plastic bucket and pour it into empty and cleaned Tidy Cat 20lb jugs with resealable lids. These are easily stores and very easily carried around the garden to do watering. It's been a great utility water saver.
Alfred Harris - The filler hose from the kit featured in the video can extend for a few feet. You can connect the Rain Barrel somewhere where it is not blocking access to the side of your house.
ETM Management LLC - You can build a simple trellis to go around the barrel and plant a climbing vine to go up it. Looks beautiful and is functional.
Tiny House Nation came up with a rainwater cachement system that goes in benches you build! Also, what about using rain chains to collect some water?
What are the risks of watering your vegetables with rain run off from a roof, that's not going to be very clean water.
Be sure to check with your local authorities. In many jurisdictions it is illegal to capture and store rainwater on your property. It has to do with insuring adequate water supply to the water table.
Thank you Evan Marks and Louise Tessier Payette for your suggestions!
I will look at options for installing gutters at least in one section of roof. I am hesitant only because last winter (in Massachusetts) we had such terrible weather and many people had very bad issues with ice dams, where we had no problems.
I believe it is still illegal to keep a rain barrel with water in Colorado. We have problems with mosquitos carrying disease. Standing water is a no no.
at àlfred, it doesn't have to be on the ground, have someone design a stand that you can mount the barrel or barrels on and still give you access to pass under
We have just finished a thatch house. No gutters & we got 5000 liters of water storage :-). Our regulations call for a concrete apron all around the house to ensure the water doesn't affect the foundations. The engineer devised a rather clever & effective solution... At the edge of the apron we installed an agricultural drain to collect the water off the apron. This solved the problem of thatch debris getting into the water too, as the natural action of the drain filters the water. Its not as 'efficient' as a gutter but it certainly does work. The water is then stored in an underground tank & pumped out with a little submersible pump into a small above ground tank in the garage. It is then filtered & pressure pumped to the toilets & garden taps.
I love this idea, my only concern is breeding mosquitoes in the standing water. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
Seems to me that if you collect rain water in Nevada or Colorado you run the risk of depleting your neighbors ground water( and being fined) but if you collect and then water your garden with that water you are slightly slowing the process of water drainage, not stealing water.....!!.?? My friends always had a full sized wooden barrel with no top, in the corner of the back of the house. I remember the dad washing his kids in that barrel at age 3 and 5. Old house- old washing technique
For Northern winters, do you have to dissemble the rain barrel from the rain gutter downsput?
Here is a site I found that has some flat systems that work in a smaller area: http://www.graf-water.com/rainwaterharvesting.html
pennipat --my thinking is that the screen over the top will prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water provided the water does not come within a foot of the screen. I think it's important to keep as much water as possible bottled. A couple of years ago (pre-screens) I did have some mosquito larvae growing in the water. I sprayed mosquito spray on top of the water and it killed all the larvae to the bottom of the container. I don't think that little bit of insectecide would be harmful to plants, although I no longer do it.
pennipat - the Rain Barrel and Kit combo featured in the video is mosquitoes proof. The only way a mosquito could enter the barrel is if it traveled from the roof, through the downspout, through the diverter part and through the filler hose. It would have to take the 10+ feet route back to go out also.
Love this Houzz show and comment thread! Looks like there may be some Aussies on the thread - some time ago I lived in Oz, and visited friends in Melbourne. Many, many people had rain catchment systems there, partly because of the dry climate, but also because the municipal water system provided water that had a lot of sediment. A full bathtub ended up with 1/8" of grit in the bottom! My friends served their catchment water for drinking, but warned us with a laugh to "watch out for wrigglies", meaning mosquito larvae. They said some of their neighbors put a thin layer of kerosene, which evidently floats, on the top of the water to stop mozzies. That whole situation still makes me smile. God, I miss Australia.
Sorry, folks, but the comments from Nevada about circumventing the law to collect water does not make it legal. For example, growing pot in your basement is possible, but does not make it legal. The issue here is correcting ridiculous laws. After the political foolishness abates, you can tell me how to collect water and, by association, grow pot in my basement, if I choose.
Pueblo CO created a law to keep all of northern Colorado from putting in rain barrels. Now, Pueblo CO is suing all points north because there is too much sediment coming down the waterways because there are no rain barrels. Instead of approving rain barrels (which i'm sure can't begin to compete with the overall damage of parking lots and big-box store rooftops of a city of 750,000 like Colorado Springs), they want dams and waterway rebuilding and whatever nonsense at our expense to be spent to change flow per second by one tenth of one percent, or something. Sorry, I'm ranting. I've lived in common sense states all my life until moving to Colorado two years ago. This water management political nonsense is 100% big-brother, ridiculous and out of control.
Regardless, Nevada: circumventing the law to collect water does not make it legal.
I would add one thing to this system. Between the downspout & the barrel i would have a section of plastic pipe with a screw off end to take the first bit of water to divert roof debris that comes with the first flush of water off any roof surface. Think of it like that section of pipe you have behind your washer to stop knocking as air movement & water movement are stopped. I have been planning for an outdoor shower & as a DIYer i have been thinking a lot about this.
Dear dbwolinski65 - I did not say that collecting water from rooftops in Nevada is LEGAL - I basically said I don't care and am looking forward to the bill which is to be introduced in the 2017 legislative session which will clarify personal use of rainwater. Just because some people have more money than others to create an unfair and nonsensical system (see current issue with NV Energy/Public Utilities Commission/consumers over solar power in Nevada) does not mean I should condone it by following a ridiculous rule! I think I can make a fair, ecological, and economic decision on my own property, thank you very much!
One drop of any kind of oil (automotive, olive, vegetable) will take care of the mosquito problem. It floats on the top of the water and keeps the larvae from breathing. And it won't hurt the garden or the environment.
Install 2 spigots for outflow of water, 1 that is about 6 inches from the base which is used to take water from the barrel for use and another spigot that is within 2 inches of the base to use as a wash out valve. that way debris can be flushed from the system.
francinejohnston, we have a sloped backyard too but have attached a pump that sends the water up the hill via a regular garden hose. It makes all the difference!
Since I use the rainwater for garden watering, mostly of individual plants, I would think that low pressure would be an advantage so that the water would flow gently onto the plants. I have not yet hooked up my spigot since I have only two rain barrels and am not ready to ruin one! heehee
Alfred Harris, You might consider a large diameter PVC pipe which could be as tall as you like and is not translucent. It could easily be 10-12 inches in diameter and be on a small platform and run all the way up to the gutters. The same type of attachments shown in this video could be used. Check at your home improvement store for correct fittings. I don't know how much water this would hold but it could be substantial. Several could be a lot of water. Hoping you find the right solution for your narrow space.
We are in the process of installing a rain barrel and connecting it to an outside shower inside a private walled garden outside the master bath. The barrel will be high and have dark brown wood strips surrounding to barrel, with a hinged door incorporated for servicing, to make it a design feature rather than a bright blue eyesore. It will be a gravity feed to the shower nozzle and have a diverter to prevent the first roof rinse from entering the system. There is nothing quite like a refreshing shower underneath the trees and blue sky to make you feel all is right in your world. We live in Florida and it will be wonderful after working in the garden.
Another rain barrel is being installed in the corner of my potting bench above the sink and will have a spigot going into the sink to be used for seed planting and potting. The area under the sink is several inches deeep with gravel to accept this runoff form the sink. A second spigot will be attached to a hose for watering the garden. This will save considerably on the use of our well water.
Alfred pvc pipe can be purchased in different sizes and lengths. easy to cap and easy to drill and add spickets.
Just read the question "What are the risks of watering your vegetables with rain run off from a roof, that's not going to be very clean water." (rexracer77). I may be wrong, but I wouldn't think it risky, considering that some fertilizing is done with manure! heehee
Hydrant - manure is natural, meant to be broken down into usable nutrients by the plants.
Roof shingles are not natural, being oil based tar backing, plus all the dust/dirt in the area settling on your roof, then taking all of that and condensing it down into your rain barrel. Have you ever pressure washed the street? Seen how much crud comes off? Same thing with a roof...
Shahinadayaz, while completely possible to connect to your irrigation/sprinkler system, that completely removes the point of a rain barrel. The point of the rain barrel is to reclaim and re-use what your already getting for free vs water that has had to go through the treatment plant to be delivered back to you as drinkable.