I was going to go with a Milli Vanilli inspired title, but I guess the wife’s “Toddler Radio” Pandora station won out.  It’s been wearing me down… wearing me down in a glittery, high pitched, Sillies-Shaking-Out, psychological torture type of way.  Who knew psychological torture usually involved ukelele accompaniment?

But back on topic.  Yes, I’m here again to wow you with yet another of my Homestead Adventures.

I assembled a Rain Barrel.

GentlemanFarmerLogoSmaller

This project was completed start to finish during nap time, while the Wife was out shopping for yoga pants.  Not just any yoga pants.  A fancier type of yoga pants she wouldn’t feel weird wearing out of the house.  It is the official SAHM uniform and it’s time she dressed appropriately.  At least that’s how everything was explained to me.

Such is our exciting lives.

Wait… what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, back on topic…

I assembled a Rain Barrel.

17RainBarrelFinished

A buddy of mine had “a guy” that got him food grade 55-gallon drums dirt cheap last year.  I bought quite a few, moved them with us, and am finally getting around to installing them at the new house.

This particular barrel is assembled from a kit I received taking part in a workshop hosted by our local Parks Department.

Specifically, it’s this Rain Barrel Kit from a company called EarthMinded.  While I wholeheartedly endorse this kit for some uses, there are a few things I plan to do differently with my glut of other rain barrels.  Specifically, I think it’s important to have a First Flush Diverter as part of the system.  That keeps the first few gallons off the roof out of your barrel, since that’s where most of the contaminants are.  I’ll show you just such a diverter when I build my next rain barrel from scratch.

Since this barrel will only irrigate flowers and not our edible gardens, the lack of a First Flush Diverter is not a huge deal to me .

As a summary, other than that one criticism, and for only $30, I’m pretty impressed with this kit’s design and don’t think you can go wrong.  Especially if you want something quick, easy, and ready to go straight out of the bag:

Before we get to the simple kit assembly (it even includes the hole saw bits you’ll need!), let’s talk a little bit about why rain barrels are such a great idea.

Rain water is ideal for irrigating your garden beds and lawn.  If you’re tied to a municipal water source, that stuff ain’t free.  Plus the city adds chemicals like fluoride and chlorine you might not want in your veggie bed, even in trace amounts.  If you have a water softener, it sucks to buy those forty pound yellow bags, lug them to the tank, then watch it all be piped out a garden hose.

If you’re on a well like we are, using rain water for irrigation saves the cost of running a well pump, plus wear and tear on that expensive household necessity.

In addition, it’s best for the environment if each of us do what we can to keep as much water on our property as possible, so long as it’s managed and not damaging any structures.  That goal not only benefits your own soil, vegetation, and trees… but it helps alleviate the huge problems we have with constant run off.

Allow me to go all granola-crunching-hippie on you for a second.  For some reason us modern folks want to get water off our roof as fast as possible, down a downspout, quickly to the curb, and happily watch it rush swirling into a storm sewer, relieved it’s gone.  All the while it picks up lawn herbicides, chemicals and oil from the street, and agricultural run-off, before flushing into our creeks, streams, rivers, and finally oceans – merrily merrily merrily merrily polluting all the way.

There is only a tiny percentage of clean fresh water on this earth, and we short-sightedly do our best to get it away from us as fast as possible when it falls as rain.  Then we pay money to get it piped back to our house.  That doesn’t quite compute.

Finally, water is pretty important as a basic survival Family Essential.  I don’t know about you, but I like to have a glass of it every now and then.  If you have a metal roof collecting rain, you can pretty much drink straight from these barrels if you ever had to.  With a good water filter like the Katadyn Hiker Pro or Big Berkey (like I posted about here), you can drink the water collected off any roof, even those with shingles, since those introduce undesirable chemicals and debris that should be filtered out.

Family Essentials Part 1 - Water

Big Berkey Water Filter

 

All that stored water is comforting to have on hand if your city water main breaks, or the tap stops working for whatever reason, or our well pump blows up.

Before I go further, you might want to know your local laws. Apparently there are some incredibly over-reaching, meddling, nanny states (I’m looking at you Oregon) where it is illegal to capture the rain water coming off your roof.  That completely boggles my mind and I can’t imagine what other crazy anti-Liberty laws might exist there.  So if you don’t live in a free state, you might want to check your local statutes in case your tax dollars fund a Government Hydrogen and Oxygen Compound Rationing Jack-Booted Brigade or something.

Sigh……..Sorry, back on topic……..

I assembled a Rain Barrel.

So how much water can you collect?  It depends on the size of your house/roof. It works out that for every

1 Inch of Rain falling on 1000 Square Feet of Roof  =

600 Gallons of Water

Nice!  That’s a lot of valuable water, (almost) free for the taking.  So let’s get to catching it.

It’s very important that you start with a Food Grade Barrel.  Sometimes you’ll get lucky and can scrounge these from grocery stores, restaurants, or even car washes for free.  The latter gets their soap delivered that way and if you think about it, rinsed out soap barrels are about as clean as you can get.  There are many styles of barrel, but I prefer the closed lid types as it basically eliminates any chance for mosquitoes.  If you have an open lid type, some fine mesh, like used in window screens, will easily solve that potential problem.

Here’s my old gal that needs a little prettying up.

2Barrel

And here are all my materials, ready to go.

1BarrelMaterials

 

I began with a dousing of brown Krylon Spray Paint for Plastics since that would:

  1. Block sunlight coming into this white translucent barrel, discouraging algae growth.
  2. Help it blend into our house a little more, making The Wife happy.

3Painting

 

4Painted

 

There.  That’s better.

Next, select a place next to your downspout.  Make sure the spot you choose is stable.  If Jerry Maguire taught us anything in the mid-90’s, it’s that he loves black people and like a human head, a gallon of water weighs about eight pounds.  Fifty-five times that eight pounds is a lot.  You don’t want this thing tipping over and rolling away.

Unless you have Donkey Kongs to contend with.  Then maybe.

(Quick aside: Is it Donkey Kongs?  Or Donkeys Kong?  Like Attorneys General? …… I digress……)

I dug a little bit to rearrange some dirt in my spot, checking it with a level.

I used cinder blocks to give my barrel some height.  This does two things:

  1. The spigot can now be at the bottom of the barrel, so there’s room to fit a watering can underneath.
  2. It increases water pressure in case I want to hook up a hose.

5Blocks

Finally time to break out the EarthMinded kit.  Use the included hole saw bit to drill for the spigot.  You want this up a couple of inches so any debris can collect at the bottom and not clog up the works.

6DrillingSpout

Here we go.

7DrilledSpout

Insert the threaded rubber grommet.

8ThreadedSpout

Carefully screw in the spigot.

9Spout

Now we just have to connect it to the downspout.

Select a spot on the barrel a couple inches lower than the lid, drill (with the medium sized saw bit), and insert the non-threaded rubber grommet… making sure the kit’s flexible hose will reach there from the front of the downspout.

10DownspoutConnector

Drill the downspout hole (with the largest saw bit).  The edges will likely be very sharp, so gloves and eye protection are good ideas.

It’s also really important to plan, then measure twice and cut once here.  You need your downspout hole to be at lid-height of your barrel.  If you have a closed lid type, like I do, then a little higher is better since it’s impossible for the barrel to overflow.  If you have your downspout hole too low, water won’t flow up the connector hose into your barrel.  I guess gravity doesn’t work like that.

11DrillDownspout

 

12DrilledDownspout

 

Now here is the EarthMinded Kit’s claim to fame.  This is the part you stick in the downspout.

13DownspoutDiverter

They say that large debris like leaves and other stuff passes through that middle hole, continues on down the downspout, and exits.  The clean rain water hugs the sides of the downspout, especially in lighter rains, gets collected by the tray around the hole, and diverted into the connecter (the part I’m holding), into the hose, and into your barrel.

14DiverterExplanationBetter

 

Another look?  Here it is oriented the correct way, as it would sit in the downspout.

15DiverterExplanation

Pretty nifty.

Stick that baby in the downspout.  Attach with two self-tapping screws (also included in the kit), and connect the flexible hose.

 

16DownspoutConnector

 

Then call this Nap Time Project complete.

17RainBarrelFinished

Here’s our barrel waiting patiently for Mother Nature to unleash her torrents so she can water the large perennial bed in front of our house… that is only partially weeded (since most of the ivy will stay).  That task will have to wait for another nap time.

One of the biggest rain barrel reservations folks seem to have is fear of mosquitoes.  As you can see, this is a closed system, so there’s no way for the little buggers to get in there to make nasty gettin’ it on, nor lay their eggs after the deed.

If you’re concerned about maintenance, there isn’t much to do.  Make sure to empty and disconnect the barrel before your first freeze.  Just for that purpose, the EarthMinded kit comes with a piece you swap in for the rubber diverter in your downspout so everything seals up nice and tidy.  It seals that hole until spring showers arrive.

To wrap everything up, and probably most importantly… Sadie approves.  I know so because she only ran off with my work gloves twice and a rubber grommet once.

What a good girl.

18FinishedSadie

 

–Mike

Question(s) of the Day: I’m still unsure if it’s Uterii or Uteruses.  Now “Donkeys Kong” will keep me up at night. Help a guy out here.  Anyone else utilize rain barrels? How are they working out for you?

Joanna peeking in here with a quick wallpaper update.  Don’t worry, it annoys me just as much as it annoys you so hopefully I’ll get it done that much faster,

Last update:

May 30 RWCurrent update:

June 3 RW

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. You had me at “that stuff ain’t free.” Very cool! You’re like an environmental MacGuyver.

  2. I’ve been wanting a rain barrel for a long while now. I gotta get hubby out of his man cave and working on that!
    Heather @ What Does She Do All Day? recently posted…Sew Red GiveawayMy Profile

    • I can come hook you up if John fetches me beers. This kit is stupidly easy to put together… and Craigslist is a good resource for finding cheap barrels.

    • Mike does work cheap . . . for cheap beer. He’s happy to help. Some of the local parks departments sell the barrels.

  3. I, for one, am impressed that this whole thing went down during nap time.

    So, you drink the water that gets in the rain barrel? That seems kind of gross. But good for the environment. And basically free.

    And what fancy schmancy yoga pants did Joanna end up with? I have a few pairs and I’m not a SAHM. I’m a SAHM-in-training though.
    calee recently posted…PS I was featured today …My Profile

    • I won’t drink straight from these because we have a shingled roof. The chemicals in those shingles mean you need to treat it. In a pinch I’d prefer it to dying of thirst, or dying of dysentery from drinking out of our tiny little mucky stream in the woods.

      But with pretty much any water filter… and we own some really good ones… then you’re good to go with no problems. Rainwater is the purest natural water available. Unless you live in a really smoggy place like Mexico City. Rainwater is as good as it gets, since it’s 100% distilled into water vapor, so it’s pure H20. What messes it up is whatever touches the rain water after it falls.

      But so long as our well and whole house filters are working, these are just for watering the gardens, washing the car and dog, etc.

    • They have pockets and little drawstrings at the bottom. I bought a kinda fancy cut cotton tank to go with them so I wouldn’t be completely schlub-like. As Mike would say when I’m pretty sure he’s making fun of me . . . super cute.

  4. Father-in-law

    Very nice job and well explained. I think you found a paint color to match Sadie. Just think, in a few years the boy can do those jobs during YOUR nap time – or not.

    • I don’t remember you having many nap times. Maybe I was too busy defeating Legend of Zelda to build rain barrels back then?

  5. I can’t get over that Oregon of all places would not allow them! I would have thought that they would encourage it. So weird. Anyway, great work and it’s cool to be environmental, so yay! 😀
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