Last summer I setup some cheap rain barrels which I describe in this post which worked great though had one major flaw. If you wanted to do some maintenance or add any new barrels you would have to literally have to saw them apart. This time around I came up with a design that is not only simple but can be done with almost no tools and uses common garden hose connectors.
- 55 gallon food grade plastic barrels X 2
- 2 way garden hose splitter (plastic will work but recommend metal for longer life)
- Old garden hose
- Male garden hose mender
- Teflon plumbers tape
- Cinder Blocks (at least 2 for each water barrel…I went with 6 for each barrel for additional water pressure)
- 4”X4” Lumber (8 foot)
- Utility knife
Knowing Pascal’s principle I wanted to take advantage of all the height I could safely get. I chose to elevate my rain barrels by taking cinder blocks 2 wide and 3 high. I then place two 4”X4” lumber cut at 4 foot lengths to provide a few additional inches of height, but also provide some room for my connections under the barrels.
Now I have a firm foundation not it is time to get these barrels hooked together so I can get maximum water pressure and access to the water in all of the barrels.
The caps on the barrels (pretty common) I picked up had a nice feature of including some nice threads on the inside of them. This provides me a nice 1 inch thread I can get a nice tight seal. The only problem these are sealed closed.
Not having a drill bit just under one inch in diameter I used a pocket knife to carefully cut the inner cap off being careful to not harm the threads.
Whats also great about this threads is they match that of standard garden hose connections. So my taking the male end of one of the garden hose splitter with a 4-5 wrappings in Teflon plumbers tape and screw it into the cap you opened up in the previous step. Repeat this process for all of your remaining rain barrels.
Note: This addition of Teflon plumbers tape is technically optional should be water tight without this but seems like a cheap insurance for the alternative of having a slow leak under your barrels.
Next add one end of male the garden hose to the end you typically would hook up to your faucet and hook the other end (other male end created using Male garden hose mender mentioned above. For this I cut an old garden hose which had a couple leaks in it to proper length since obviously 25 feet of hose between barrels would be some serious overkill.
If you have more than two rain barrels you can then use short lengths of typical garden hose (one male/one female) and link them together in a similar manner.
For overflow I went with a pretty simple option of drilling a hole and manually threading a pipe fitting that attached to piece of tubing (easy finds at your local home improvement store)
Better picture of overflow…this tube goes right down to the drain the water used to flow down with the drain spout. So once all the barrels are full all the excess water will just flow down here.
Speaking of the drain spout I used some cheap vinyl drain pieces to redirect the water into a 3 inch hole I cut in the top of the barrels.
I added a piece of screen to filter out the leaves and little piece of sediment that may come from the roof. I also screwed on a plastic lid I scavenged from the recycling bin which I cut a matching 3 inch hole into. This had a decent lip on the lid to help direct the water into the barrels when the rain starts coming down pretty hard.
Overall I really like how this came out. Not only does this allow me to easily add new rain barrels and I decide to add them but I also with the valves on the 2 way garden hose splitter I can easily start/stop flow from any barrel and do maintenance on another barrel without having to draining all of the water from the system.