County Conservation District
For more information contact:
Susan Harris, Watershed Specialist
1. Selecting Barrel
1.1. Label – Only use barrels that have a completely legible contents label. Do Not Use if barrel contained anything termed Toxic, Corrosive, Warning, Caustic, Reactive, Hazardous, or Flammable.
1.2. Sources - Car washes, Soap/Detergent producers, Food manufacturers
2.1. Drill w/ 1” bit
3.1. Plumber's epoxy
3.2. Gutter guard - single piece to cover opening for downspout.
3.3. 1" threaded hose adapter
3.4. Brass spigot – 1”
3.5. Garden hose with attachment – 8’
3.6. Small screws
3.7 Utility knife
4.1. Water from downspout into a screen covered opening
4.2. Spigot high enough to fit bucket underneath
4.3. Controlled overflow with hose at top
4.4. Hose to empty barrel from spigot
4.5. Optional drain at bottom
4.6. Optional connector to another barrel
5. Barrel Prep
5.1. Rinse barrel
5.2. Dump waste down sink, NOT yard or storm drain
6. Construction Procedure
6.1. Drill hole for overflow using 1” drill bit 3” below top of barrel. Screw in 1" hose adapter, and add hose for overflow discharge to vegetated area, rain garden, or storm sewer.
6.2. Use jigsaw to make hole large enough for downspout on top of barrel.
6.3 Cover hole with a section of gutter guard. Use plumber's epoxy and screws to secure to barrel.
6.4 Use 1" drill bit to install hole for spigot. If barrel will sit directly on the ground, then hole should be approximately 8" from bottom of barrel to accommodate a watering can under spigot. If rain barrel will be elevated on cinder blocks, bricks, or other surface, consider lowering location of spigot to allow for more water storage in the barrel.
6.5 Use a wrench to screw spigot into hole. Add plumber's epoxy to create watertight seal around spigot.
Optional - Use a Krylon plastic spray paint or equivalent to paint barrel.
7.1. Check municipal ordinances for any requirements on rain barrel installation.
7.2 Position rain barrel on a secure and level surface near downspout
7.2. Cut existing downspout using jigsaw, or handsaw
7.4. Attach downspout elbow or diverter to direct downspout flow into barrel
8. Operations & Maintenance
8.1. Leaves collecting in barrel - Use a mesh cover on top to prevent leaves from entering barrel.
8.3. Overflow clogged - Detach overflow hose and rinse out as needed.
8.4. Draining before next rain - Rainwater should be released after each storm even when you do not have a use for it. This allows more rainwater to be captured during the next rainfall.
8.5. Winter freeze - Barrels should either by disconnected during winter months, or spigot can be left open attach a hose to discharge away from foundation. Freezing and thawing during winter months can potentially crack the barrel. Diverters can also be purchased to switch between traditional downspout discharge and rain barrel. Visit our rain barrel sources page for a list of vendors who carry diverters.