I have been talking about making some rain barrels for quite some time but was never really sure exactly where to start on it.  My Son-in-law fixed the "where to start" problem for me when he gave me 6 55-gallon barrels that were previously used to store syrups for Dr. Pepper.

It was not long after I was given those barrels that I bought a copy of GRIT magazine and found an article in there on how to make rain barrels and the barrels looked similar to the ones I had.  That solved it, I was making some rain barrels that weekend.

I went to our local hardware store with the GRIT article (April/May 2010) in hand and asked them to help me gather what I needed.  They didn't have one piece, a manifold, but it wasn't really necessary unless I was planning on attaching 6 small hoses with holes drilled into them on the spigotGRIT Method Barrel.  Nope, one or two hoses would do just fine, although the multi-hose design was pretty nifty.

I made the first barrel per the directions in the GRIT article but modified all the others to make it cheaper on my pocket book.  The following 5 barrels used a simple spigot, a connector and a rubber washer.  The costs were roughly as follows:

  • Spigot         6.00  (3/4" size is what I used but 1" or larger will work well also)
  • connector     .99
  • Washer       1.50
  • Barrels        Free
  • Total            8.49

The costs listed above were for spigot setup only for each barrel.  I would guess the items could be found cheaper at other places but we only have one local hardware store and they are not usually the cheapest place to shop but they are help, friendly and local.  You will need additional items also that will be used for all barrels and you may already have them.  (Pict 1 is Grit version Barrel, Pict 2 is my version)

  • 1/2" drill bit
  • Drill
  • 3/4" hole saw fitting for drill
  • PVC glue or gorilla glue
  • caulking for sealing around washer or gasket
  • screening (depending on barrel design.  I used window screen given to me and just tied it over the opening.

Okay, now lets get to work.  I found the easiest was was to use the 1/2" drill bit to predrill a hole in the barrel as far towards the botton as possible and still allowing access to the spigot.

Once the predrill is done use the hole saw and make your nice round hole.  With my barrels I did not have access to the inside to place washers on the inside and outside so I just made sure I have a nice tight predrilled hole and screwed the connecter into it then placed the washer with gorilla glue (which puffs like that foam stuff) and quickly added the spigot onto the connector with a touch of gorilla glue on the threads there too.  That makes a nice seal that hasn't leaked but you can also add caulking around the spigot if you would like or if you do have some leakage. 

I did make one with no gorilla glue and had a little leakage with it but not much so I just added the gorilla glue around the rubber washer and that fixed that problem.

Of course for the barrels to do any good you have to have gutters and down spouts in place.  We are still working on finishing the gutters.  As it stands right now we have the barrels placed at major drips areas of the roof and it catches some rain but it will be alot more efficeint with the gutters and down spouts.