Making a rain barrel

dragonladytoo(Z7/OK)September 12, 2002

Finally found a good plastic 55 gal barrel with a screw top. The whole top screws on. Have gutters and down spouts on my house. The down spouts go all the way to the ground. Can anyone tell me what to do to a down spout and to the barrel in order to catch the rain water? Presumably, will have to cut the down spout and cut a whole in the top of the barrel lid to accommodate the spout. Do I then caulk around the spout to seal it? Do I drill a hole at the bottom and attach a spigot? Does anyone have step by step instructions to do this - don't want to mess up the only good barrel I've been able to find!

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hollyk(5A or 5B)

Hi there,

I don't have any websites bookmarked, but if you go to and search on:

making rain barrel

You should find a ton of sites. Yup, you'll have to cut your downspout. You don't have to caulk it to the lid of your barrel, though. I saw one plan where the downspout stopped about 2" above the lid (so you can open the lid) and it poured into a hole in the lid, that was covered in screening (to keep leaves and critters out). You'll also need an overflow toward the top for when the barrel fills up.

But, if you search online you should be able to find some good instructions online.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2002 at 8:25PM
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BetsieLT(NW MI)

If you have a home depot store near you or a general home supply, they sell downspout extensions that are flexible, kind of corrugated. You can cut off the downspout and add the flexible extension. This will bend to the barrel. you can either go out after each rain storm and divert the extension with an additional piece of downspout or put an overflow on the barrel. My barrels have pieces of pvc attached at the top. When the barrel fills, excess rain water drains out through them. I have one set of barrels where I don't use an overflow as I have a piece of pvc connecting the two barrels at the top so that the overflow from the first goes into the second barrel. You don't have to add a spigot but it saves a lot of heavy lifting of buckets of water. Make sure the barrel sits high enough on cement blocks, etc so that the spigot is high enough to put a watering can under it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2002 at 9:58PM
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idgy(z6 WV)

Just had to add a good thing I discovered with my home-made rain barrels. Put the barrel off of the ground some,(put a large rock, cinder block, like that) and put the faucet down as far to the bottom as you can. That way you can get good use of every last drop- and the water comes out faster.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 7:44PM
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Does anyone know where I can get a rain barrel down spout that inserts into my existing down spout (need to cut out a 9-10" piece) and it can be "flipped down" for use with my rain barrel and then "flipped up" for winter time use of the down spout?

I already have the flexible down spout, but want something a little more permanent without cutting off the down spout.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2002 at 10:53AM
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Organic_25yrs(z7/8 DFW)

I'm also looking for information about diverters and have found the type with the lever at

There is also another type that uses a small hose that goes directly into the barrel and when the barrel is full, it automatically continues down the spout.

Anybody have any experience with either of these?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 11:57AM
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How do I add a spigot to a large plastic trash can that I will be using to collect rainwater? I cannot find rain barrels in our area, and can't afford the ones that I saw online. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 7:50PM
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    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 7:57PM
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has anyone heard of putting store bought goldfish in your barrels to prevent mosquitoes?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 1:40AM
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Hi oparkins,
? Do you think they can take the temperature where your barrel is ?
I guess you are not planning on drinking this water.
Bt ( a bacteria, Bacillus thirugensis ) pellet/disk dunks are convenient & environmentally friendly.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 11:27AM
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If you have long periods between rains the water coming off your roof will be dirty, possibly full of leaves, and possibly poison depending upon what type of roof you have. Be sure you can clean it out when a layer of mud develops at the bottom.
Also realize that 55 gallons of water isn't much, maybe good enough for watering potted plants.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 9:00PM
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My rain barrel with overflow works better that any that I have made in the past. All I do now is clean the filter from the downspout.

Haven't seen any that works as well.

Click the link below to see my rain barrel. Has Instructions.

Here is a link that might be useful: My rain barrel with overflow

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 9:40PM
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