Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Simple Rain Barrel Set-up

There's a man in my area who sells food grade plastic barrels for $25 each. We bought three. When we first got them, they smelled like pickled jalapenos.

A spigot costs about $4. We bought two. Deus Ex Machina drilled a hole about a foot up from the bottom of two of the barrels, and then, attached a spigot to each one.

The barrels came with a two-part lid - kind of like a canning lid. The inner lid comes out. We had a sliding screen door on our French doors leading into the backyard, but it's never worked quite right, and then, the screen just started disintegrating. So, we hadn't used it in quite some time. We ripped the screen out and using the ring, we used it to cover the top of the barrel to allow the water into the barrel, but to keep out bugs and debris.

We don't have gutters on our house. The roof is not a typical roof (actually nothing about our house is "typical", but that's a different topic). Part of our roof is flat-ish, and we're plagued with ice dams. Because of the way our roof is configured, gutters simply wouldn't work. So, when we set-up our rain barrels, attaching them to the typical downspout system wasn't one of our options.

After having lived in our house for so many years, however, we knew where the rain came off the roof the heaviest, and we simply set up a rainbarrel in these places.

We have two rain barrels, and last year from March (when we set them up) to November (when we emptied them, because we didn't want them to freeze), the rain barrels provided all of the water we needed for our animals and the gardens.

We have three barrels, but one of them is used to store sap between boiling sessions. Our plan is to purchase two more barrels, because one of them is almost always overflowing after a good rain, and we'd like to connect an overflow barrel to it. There's also another place I think we should put a barrel to capture more rain water.

From November to March, rain barrels are not a good choice for us, because when it gets cold here, it stays below freezing, day and night, for about four months. We'd need another option, but right now, in the middle of the warm season, I'm thankful for our rain barrels, and if we end up having a situation like what happened in Boston, I won't be one of the people fighting at the BJ's for a case of bottled water. Instead, I'll be the one looking for a water filter system.

And, perhaps, in the meantime, the book A Year of Drinking Berkey Purified Rainwater might not be such a bad addition to my doomer library.


  1. Really nice set up. I have been looking for some of those for a long time. Our local garden supply finally started carrying rain barrels- at $150 each. So I'm still looking.

  2. Rain barrels are a great idea - very nice setup. Once the jalapeno smell dissipates, you could also set one up in an elevated place that gets sun for warm (hot?) shower water in the summer (outside showers can be fun, with enough privacy).

    Some more or those barrels could also be good for storing grains, etc.

  3. y'know, we REALLY need to do the rainbarrel thing ourself...we even have a Berkey! Using the Berkey for water in our well that has that awful sulfur smell purifies it but does NOT remove the smell, since the Berkey does not remove certain minerals (one of its benefits)...a rain barrell would fill the bill, though!