Friday, July 29, 2011

Manifold Rain Barrel System, Part III

I thought maybe it was about time to finish up my series on the manifold rain barrel system!  Apologies that this topic slid over to the back burner, but we have been tackling so many projects this summer that I've honestly become overwhelmed.  Anyway, before you continue, please read the following posts:

Progress Photos (contains info on levelling the ground and Youtube video links)

Manifold Rain Barrel System Part I

Manifold Rain Barrel System Part II

When we last left off, I showed you how I set up the barrels themselves.  Connecting them to the gutter was simple; I unscrewed the downspout and put it aside to re-connect in the winter, and used a flexible downspout extender instead (that ribbed green thing in the photo). 

The green downspout extender attaches to the downspout.
Using a saw, I cut a hole in the black lid of the first barrel. I then cut a bigger section of screen, which I screwed down with the top. The screen serves as a barrier to keep debris and mosquitoes out, something important to consider when setting up rain barrels, Finally, I inserted the flexible downspout into the hole in the lid.

Top view of the downspout extender in position.  You can also see how I very informally screwed down a round section of screen with the lid.

As I mentioned before, I should have installed the overflow pipe initially.  Here's what I came up with:

Overflow pipe
The pipe is made of a 4" PVC elbow and fitting; the fitting was inserted through the inside of the barrel.  I also put a piece of screen in the opening.  I am happy to report that it works wonderfully!

Some of the problems I ran into have not quite been solved yet.  I dismantled the whole system to try a different sealant on the bottoms of the barrels, but am still having leaks.  Though frustrating at first, these leaks are extremely slow and have not resulted in any noticeable water loss.  The fact that the barrels are not perfectly flat on the bottom may be the main issue, but I also think that I just can't find a sealant that bonds properly to the material the barrels are made of. 

After another nice little rainstorm, the first barrel again tilted back toward the house, but not nearly as drastically as the first time.  This I attribute to not making the sand below it compact enough.  We've solved this for the moment by shimming under the bottom of that barrel.

After taking the barrels down to repair the leaks, I did manage to prop them up higher by adding a couple bricks to the tops of the concrete blocks, which made the five gallon bucket fit under the spout and gave me the added benefit of better water pressure in the garden.  I've found that water pressure is directly related to both the amount of water in the barrels (weight) and height difference.

By the way, I am contemplating doing away with Weekend Updates.  Since we are juggling so much right now, I'd rather just wait and blog about what I think all of you will find to be most interesting and beneficial, instead of just giving short blurbs about what we've been doing.


  1. Bravo, I think you did a fantastic job! What kind of barrels are those? Did I miss that? Where does one look for those?

  2. Texan - hello and I just visited your blog! These barrels are from a local conservation group and they were used for either pickels or olives, so they're food grade (good) but were not super cheap (bad). If Coke or another soft drink company has a canning facility near you, I've heard you can get food-grade barrels cheap. Some people have also gotten them from dumps, but that's risky unless you can find out what's been in them...i.e., I could deal with dish soap but not some toxic chemical. I hope that helps! Post again if you have any more questions!