rainwater collection system for DIY

alan8(8)December 9, 2007

Can anyone post a link to good step by step instructions (with photos) for building a system from plastic 55 gallon drums please? I've got the drums and I just need a little help with the plumbing fixures. Thanks.

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jengod(SoCal, 10, Sunset 23)

It's been raining here after months of drought, so I was just googling this very thing. I'm using five-gallon buckets under the downspouts for the moment, but a proper rainbarrel seems sexy.

Here are the two DIY links I found that seemed good, both are PDF files:

http://www.lawrencerecycles.org/pdf/facts-rbassembly.pdf "Make a Rain Barrel...Capture the Sky"

http://www.cwp.org/Community_Watersheds/brochure.pdf "How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel"

And here's a link to the prefab rain barrel that I like the most after doing some Internet research. Wish I knew of a "homesteading" supply store in L.A. that might sell them, because the shipping charges on barrels are just murder! :)


    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 2:53AM
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None of those url's worked for me. Capturing the rain water the flows off your roof is fairly simple if you already have a gutter and downspout system, you just need to divert the flow of water into collection barrels somehow. The link below shows one way. Provision also must be made so that when the barrel is full normal flow is restored, and a barrel with a water valve on, or near the bottom that allows you to get the water out easily would be a big improvement.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rainwater diverter

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 6:30AM
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I know I've seen something like this before, but I don't know how to search for it... When I collect rain from the roof, we have the asphalt shingles and the water washes rather questionable stuff off with it. Is this to be avoided or is it nothing of concern?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 12:23PM
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Thanks to all. I finished my system today. Two 55 gallon drums, side by side, about 4 ft. off the ground.I built a pedistal to hold them up securly. Tops are open with window screen secured across top-held in place by the ring clamps that used to hold the lid on. This will keep the mosquitos and leaves out. If it overflows, it just overflows. I installed a faucet at the edge of the bottm of each one. Once I drilled a 1/2 inch hole, I forced the faucet threads in and they cut their way through. I used a thick rubber washer, the kind you get with your garden hose, and it doesn't leak at all! Now just waiting for the rain.The last time it rained about an hour and both barrels were full sitting under the edge of the roof. My shed does not have a gutter system. The roof is metal so there's no concern about asphalt shingle residue. Being 4 ft. off the ground, I can hook up a hose to either faucet and get plenty of gentle flow to my veg. garden which is nearby. This project costs me about $12.00 (for the two faucets, the widow screen material and two washers-all from Lowes). The plastic barrels were free and I already had the 4x4 treated wood for posts, etc. Wish I could post a photo. I am totally convinced that rainwater is the best for vegetables.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 6:55PM
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Where do you find barrels? The only ones that I can find are $99 (complete barrel), but I need 4 or 5 barrels and can't afford that much! I have a link on my website about how to make the barrels, but I need to first FIND some barrels!

Congrats on your project!

Here is a link that might be useful: Dandelion Farm

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 8:59PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day alan,

i miseed this thread somehow but better later than never hey?

i have some barrels/drums set up you can find the picture on our site in the permaculture essay page.

all we did was source some used food grade barrels that cost around $25AUD each, i'm sure you will be able to source these drums that have been used for food product over there, over here they aren't allowed to sell the drum that contained dangerous or poison product. the safe drum over here are the blue ones.


Here is a link that might be useful: len's garden page

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 1:12PM
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My current rain water collection is a line of 5 gallon buckets along the drip line of my roof. I sometimes pour it into jugs to save for the hydroponics since the well water tends to be hard and the rain water makes balancing the pH easier. I just add some Hydrogen peroxide to keep from growing any nasties in the jugs.
I'm not using the water for drinking so am not overly worried about what washes off the roof.
If we were planning to drink the water, I'd probably want a metal roof with a wash valve. That is usually set up as a T off the side (high up) on the downspout. The downspout is capped (with a valve at the bottom so it can be emptied after each rain event.) Essentially, the first amount of rain rinses off the roof and fills the downspout and once the water level gets up to the T it diverts off to the rain collection containers.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 7:02PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

Here are good links to replace those mentioned earlier in this thread:


The first one is basic but has one tidbit, using olive oil to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the rain barrel. The second one has detailed instructions and photos and looks very informative.

Anytime you get a link that doesn't work, just go to the basic website (ie: www.cwp.org) and search for the information.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 9:54PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

Tclynx, how much hydrogen peroxide do you add to each 5 gallon container?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 10:00PM
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