Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DIY Rain Barrels

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We finally got a new roof with nice new efficient gutters and downspouts

which means that rain is now very specifcally directed right into my new rain barrels.

Collecting rain is great for a number of reasons.
Here are a few starting with my favorite:

1) Rain water is free. I love free.
You can use it to water plants and such, rinse off outdoor items, bathe dogs. You get it.
Note: Do not drink it.

2) Using rain water relieves some of the stress on the environment when utilizing in place of public works water.

3) Collecting rain in barrels allows you to choose where the water goes,
which is really nice especially if you get heavy downpours which can cause runoff and such.

4) It's the cool thing to do.

So, you're convinced? Awesome.
Before you run out and pay a hefty sum for a rain barrel (some are around $100! huh?), consider making one yourself
and upcycling a barrel that has already been used.
It's cheaper and it's better for the environment.

Where to find a barrel:
First things first, you want to find/buy a "food grade" barrel.
I should mention, also, that "food grade" speaks less to what was in the barrel and more to what was not. i.e. no harmful chemicals and such that should not be injested.
They can come in different shapes and sizes. The most common is this 55 gallon.
I found some at a flea market that got them from an olive importer.
Only $15 a piece!

Tips for finding barrels near you:
1) Check craigslist. In my area, there are A TON listed.
2) Check food importers (they probably use them, and who knows? Maybe you'll score some for free!)
3) If you live in a "rain barrel community" like I do, ask your neighbors where they got theirs.
4) If you can't find a barrel, consider using a large outdoor trash can. Not beautiful, no, but just as functional.

Alright! Here we go:

DIY Rain Barrel How To:

Step One: Gather your supplies.
Once you have your barrel, the only other items you'll need is a rain barrel kit (sold by many home impreovement retailers online) and a diverter.

The diverter isn't necessary, but I highly recommend it. If you're barrel fills up, a diverter will divert the excess water down the downspout instead of  flooding out the top of your barrel, or worse, backing up your downspout.
The kit that I used is by EarthMinded, and guess what? It comes with a diverter.
I also love this one because it comes with absolutely everything you'll need including three different hole saw bits and crystal clear instructions.
You just need a drill and a level. Easy peasy.

*If you want to hook your rain barrel right up, go ahead! :)
Just follow the instructions with your kit.
It will look something like this:

*If your barrel is in a more visible area and you want a more finished look, check out these steps:

Step Two: Sand
I used a 60 grit sandpaper just to rough up the plastic surface a bit so the paint would stick more securely.

Step Three: Paint

I used a textured biege Krylon spray paint, one color for the lid and one for the barrel because I wanted it to match my other outdoor stuff since the barrel in the back yard is in full view when you're sitting on the patio.

Step Four: Attach your Spigot and Drain
(you'll want to drain it in the winter if you live in a freezing climate)
Be sure to place your spigot about 12 inches from the bottom of the barrel if you want to get a watering can underneath.
You can also build a stand to put the barrel on.

Step Five: Attach your Connector Hose

Make sure that the hose is level. If it travels down to your barrel, it will overflow the top when it is full. If it travels up to your barrel, the water will bypass the hose and go directly through your diverter and down the downspout.

Total Costs:

For the unpainted barrel- $42
For the painted barrel- $67
Not bad.

Now I'm just waiting for rain!


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