How to Install Gravity Rain Barrels

Overview

Rainwater harvesting is an environmentally safe method to efficiently collect water for various purposes around the yard. Using one barrel can limit the use of water while using multiple barrels can provide a continuous flow of water. Installing gravity-fed rain barrels that are interconnected is the most efficient method to achieve this. Once the first barrel is set up, the remaining barrels simply repeat the process.

Setting Up The First Barrel

Step 1

Locate the downspout you will be using for water delivery. The water for the rain barrels will be coming from the roof. Make sure the downspout is short enough to place a rain barrel under it.

Step 2

Remove the sod and 3 inches of the soil with the shovel wide enough to put two cinder blocks side by side in the hole. Put the soil someplace where it can be used later in a garden or other project.

Step 3

Set up two cinder blocks in the hole created. Level off the cinder blocks to support the rain barrel. This creates a sturdy base for the barrel so that it won't tip or sink from the weight of the rain.

Step 4

Lay a rain barrel on its side. Measure 2 inches up from the bottom of the barrel. Drill a starter hole into the barrel at this point. Use the hole saw to create a 2-inch hole at the starter hole. Install the male thread adapter into the hole. Tighten the adapter to the barrel with the electrical lock nut until it is no longer loose but not completely secure. Put a bead of the caulk around the hole both inside and outside the barrel. Tighten the adapter the rest of the way and allow the caulk to set.

Step 5

Set up the barrel on the cinder blocks. Clean the ends of one pipe. Apply a bead of glue around one end of the pipe. Attach the pipe into the male adapter. Apply a bead of glue to the other end of the pipe. Attach a PVC tee so that one end of the top is in the pipe, one end faces away from the house and the bottom of the tee faces in the direction where your next barrel will be.

Setting Up Each Additional Barrel

Step 1

Clean the ends of another 12-inch pipe. Apply a bead of glue around one end. Screw this end onto the tee from Step 5 above. This is the connector pipe to the next rain barrel.

Step 2

Repeat Steps 2 through 5 from above to set up the next barrel.

Step 3

Install the short PVC pipe into the open end of the tee. Attach the ball valve to the pipe. Attach the reducing adapter to the ball valve and pipe. Glue the parts together. Allow the glue to set before using the pipes. The ball valve is the release mechanism to allow rainwater to flow from one barrel to another when needed.

Step 4

Connect as many barrels as needed using this process.

Step 5

Connect the 3/4-inch male thread to a 3/4-inch garden hose male adapter. Screw the other end of the male thread to the pipe of the last barrel. Screw the hose onto the other end of the adapter. Place the garden hose where it is needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Concrete cinder blocks
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Plastic barrels
  • 2-inch diameter hole saw
  • Power drill
  • 2-inch male thread adapters
  • 2-inch electrical lock nuts
  • Silicone caulk
  • PVC cleaner and glue
  • 12-inch long by 2-inch diameter PVC pipe
  • 2-inch PVC tee
  • 6-inch by 2-inch PVC pipe
  • 2-inch diameter PVC ball valve
  • 2-inch to 3/4-inch female thread adapter
  • 3/4- inch male thread to 3/4-inch garden hose male thread adapter
  • Garden hose

References

  • Instructables: Rain Barrel Project
  • The Master Gardeners: Spouse's Guide to Building the Perfect Rain Barrel System
Keywords: rainwater harvesting, rainwater collection, rain barrels

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.