Be sure that the downspout that you’re working with is in good working order and clear of any blockages.
Never use collected water for drinking, cooking or bathing! What’s great for your plants isn’t necessarily all that great for you!
The top spigot is actually the overflow valve. Many people prefer to attach a length of hose to this and run it to an area that can handle excess water during heavy rain. Be sure to leave this valve wide open (turned counter clockwise) at all times.
The bottom spigot has been installed several inches above ground level in order to provide stability to your barrel…just that much water inside of the barrel will provide a base of about 80lbs. However, some people still find that their starter hose can kink from being very near the ground. This is easily solved by manually twisting the bottom spigot ¼ of a turn clockwise (or Righty-Tighty) so that the spigot points directly to the left, parallel with the ground. Don’t go beyond ¼ turn, or you could “strip” the spigot / barrel connection.
Do not pull or tug on the hose fitted to the bottom spigot, as you can easily damage the connection. Leave plenty of slack in your hose to prevent problems.
Speaking of hoses, we recommend buying the absolute cheapest 5/8’ hose available for use with your rain barrel. Hoses are meant to handle the fairly high pressure coming from your tap, while the pressure you’ll be dealing with is low.
To fill a bucket or watering can, don’t undo the starter hose. Just open the shutoff on the end of the starter hose, hold it below the water level inside of the barrel, and fill your vessel that way.
The screen vent will prevent insects from breeding in your barrel, and stop leaves, twigs and whirligigs from getting in there too.
Try hooking a soaker hose to your starter hose, and run it through your vegetable garden or flowerbed.
Consider joining multiple barrels for additional capacity.