Build & Install a Rain Barrel

Harvest the rain and reduce run-off and pollution of our local beaches. Use it to water your garden, wash clothes, car or flush the toilet.

Rain water is the best kind of water. We must learn how to harvest it. In doing so, we reduce storm water runoff and provide high quality irrigation water. Plus, because the majority of Southern California's water use goes to the garden, harvesting the rain will significantly reduce your utility bills! Best of all? It happens to be free.

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  • Rain barrel supplies

    Rain barrel supplies

  • Attaching mesh to the downspout hole

    Attaching mesh to the downspout hole

  • Drilling a hole for the gasket.

    Drilling a hole for the gasket.

  • Attaching the gasket

    Attaching the gasket

  • Ready to harvest!

    Ready to harvest!

View '' set on Flickr

Materials and Tools

  • 55 Gallon barrel Buy
  • Bulkhead set
  • Harden faucet
  • 1 Piece of mesh or window screen
  • Elbow fitting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Purchase a clean, 55-gallon, food-grade plastic barrel. Do not use a used barrel or one you retrieved from the dump.
  2. Cut a hole the size of your downspout into the top of the barrel or lid. A hole or sabre saw will do the trick.
  3. Affix a piece of mesh or window screen over the hole in the lid to prevent debris or critters from falling in. If needed, you can attach a 45o elbow to the end of your downspout to reach your barrel.
  4. Unscrew the bulkhead and place the threaded stem against the outside of the barrel about 4-6” above the ground.
  5. Trace around the stem, and cut out the traced hole.
  6. Place one of the rubber gaskets on the stem and push it through the hole so that the base of the stem and rubber gasket are still on the inside of the barrel. The stem should fit snugly.
  7. Slide the second gasket onto the stem that is now protruding out from the barrel. Next, screw the washer onto the stem.
  8. Tighten it down against the gasket, but avoid over tightening. You can now thread a garden faucet into the bulkhead, and affix a hose.

Tips

Look before you leap! The bulkhead thread size will determine what size faucet can be inserted. Faucets have thread sizes that can be made larger or smaller with adapter pieces found in hardware stores.

About the Program

The Water Shed

A mobile, interactive exhibition on watersheds that educates and inspires good water stewardship in Southern California.

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