Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Connect a Rain Barrel to a Downspout

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Collecting the rain shed by your roof for watering your yard and garden helps save money on your water bill. Normally, the water comes down the gutter and drains to an area that needs moisture the least--an issue easily remedied with a rain barrel. Whether you make your own rain barrel or purchase a complete rain collection system, it is necessary to hook it up to your gutter downspout. Hooking it up properly lets the rain flow in while keeping the water free from pests like mosquitoes.

Create an elevated base for the rain barrel beneath the downspout. Use a layer of bricks or concrete cinder blocks. An elevated barrel drains more easily when it's time to use the water inside.

Remove the existing downspout from your gutter. Pull off the spout if it is friction-fitted, taking care not to pull down the whole gutter system. Look for a retaining pin along the side and pull it out first, if necessary.

Purchase a flexible plastic downspout from a home improvement store. Slide it onto the gutter connection and reinstall any retaining pins, if applicable.

Alternately, measure the distance from your gutter to the lid of your rain barrel when it is sitting on the base. Purchase a length of gutter that meets this measurement and a downspout elbow piece. Attach the elbow to the downspout, then attach the downspout to the gutter.

Set the rain barrel on its base. Push the end of the flexible spout or the elbow into the corresponding cutout in the lid of the barrel.


Things You Will Need

  • Rain barrel
  • Bricks or concrete cinder blocks
  • Flexible spout extender
  • Tape measure
  • Downspout elbow


  • If a downspout hole isn't already cut out, use your spout or elbow as a template to cut the hole so it's a tight fit.
  • If mosquitoes are still an issue, attach a piece of fine-mesh screen material to the opening on the spout or elbow.


  • Some gutters are all-one-piece and can't be pulled apart. Cut off the old spout carefully with a hacksaw.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.