Rain Barrel Installation

Rain Barrel Installation
Congratulations! You have just taken a giant step toward saving water, saving money and enjoying your garden. Now you need to actually install your new Rain Barrel and learn how to use it. The following instructions will help you with a basic installation. You may need to be creative, or even consult a professional gutter installer, if installing your barrel to an old, non-rectangular downspout or any configuration other than straight vertical. That said, have a read and you’ll get the idea of how it works.

What you bought: You have a 55 gallon recycled barrel, with 2 connection spigots fitted at the top and bottom and a screen cover.

What you still need to get: Generally, you will need to cut an existing downspout in order to fit the rain barrel beneath it. This will require a hacksaw. Usually, the downspout is held against your building with two small metal straps, one near the gutter up top and another at the bottom. Since you’re going to relocate the bottom several feet up, you’ll need to get another one of these. Finally, if the elbow at the bottom of your existing downspout cannot be reused (sometimes they’re riveted to the old downspout), you’ll probably want to get one of those as well. While some people prefer to install their barrels on concrete blocks, this is definitely not a requirement. A cheap hacksaw is about $5, with the parts listed about totaling $3 - $4. You’ll also need a pair of pliers, a couple of roofing nails, a hammer and a pencil to complete the basic installation.

Fitting your Rain Barrel: First thing is to place your barrel next to the downspout with which you’ll be working.

1. For safety’s sake, make sure that the ground that the barrel will sit on is flat and level. You may need to use a spade or shovel to flatten out the surface upon which the barrel will sit.

2. Now, understanding that you’ll want the elbow emptying water into your barrel through the screen, you can estimate where you’ll need to cut the existing downspout and draw a line there with a pencil. Keep in mind that the existing downspout will slide inside of the elbow, taking away an inch or two of length. Also, the special louvered collection system catches an incredible percentage of the water hitting it, so you have a few inches in any direction to play with.

3. If possible, now is the time to strap the downspout to the building, several inches above where you’re going to cut the downspout. You can do this with a couple of roofing nails or drywall screws. If you can’t attach it now (not having room to maneuver the hacksaw can be a problem), having a friend help you by holding the downspout while you cut it is a good thing.

4. Go ahead and cut the downspout where you drew your line. It makes an awful noise, but don’t be afraid.

5. If you couldn’t attach the strap before, do so now… well above the cut so you can slide the elbow over the downspout.

6. Remove the part of the old downspout that went all of the way to the ground, as well as the old strap that might have been there holding it.

7. In order to fit the downspout inside of the elbow, you’ll need to use your pliers to bend in or crimp the edges of the downspout. Be careful, as the edge you just cut will be sharp. Take your time, as it will take you a few tries. Be sure to fit the downspout into the elbow, and not vice versa. Otherwise, you’ll have a funny looking fountain when gravity takes the rainwater outside of the elbow fitting.

8. We’ve found it easiest to attach the 5’ starter hose to the bottom spigot at this time. Be sure that the bottom spigot is turned wide open (counter clockwise, or “Lefty Loosey”) so that you’ll be regulating water flow from the shutoff on the end of the starter hose…notice that the end of the starter hose can be hooked over the top spigot for easy access.

9. Now slide your barrel under the newly reconfigured downspout and you’re in business.