How to set up and install a rain barrel
Preparing Your Rain Barrel Site Location
The rain barrel will need to be located near a down spout from your rain gutter, if you want to get water from a downspout.
If you don’t have downspouts, you can often still use a rain barrel. You just have to find one of those troughs where two parts of the roof come together and water pours out whenever it rains. Place the rain barrel under one of those spots, and you’ll get plenty of water.
Generally, downspouts are attached to the house by straps and will need to be dissasembled. Remove the screws holding the straps to the downspout and any screws that may have been put in to attach the spout to the gutter. Once the brackets have been released the downspout can be removed and set aside.
When removing the screws and detatching the downspout, remember to wear safety glasses if you are using power equipment. We wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself, would we?
Connecting a Rain Barrel to a Downspout
Now that the downspout is out of the way, we need to find a way to redirect water flow into the top of the rain barrel.
There are several comercial products available for this purpose.
The Garden Water Saver downspout redirector is an excellent choice in that it attaches inline between joints of your spout and once your rain barrel is full water is automatically directed back out through the original spout. It does require a small amount of cutting with tin snips in order to fit properly. Unfortunately, our downspout in this example is too large to use the Garden Watersaver.
It is important that the concentrated water flow be directed away from the house or into the barrel as too much water in one place near the house could result in foundation damage. Therefore it is unwise to simply let the water fall from gutter into the barrel for any significant distance. For this particular installation the best solution was to use a plastic flex hose available at most home improvement stores. The flex hose can be secured using the existing straps and expanded and directed to the needed position. You can also find these flexible downspout redirectors online.
Installing a Rain Barrel, the Conclusion
Your installed rain barrel should be placed on a reasonably stable and secure surface, like the wide concrete blocks in the picture above. A barrel this size will weigh a substantial amount when full of water. Water weighs something like 8 pounds per gallon, so you can see how it adds up quickly!
If you elect to use the lower mounting position for the spigot, be sure there is sufficient clearence for you to attach a hose in order to use the water you collect in the barrel. The installation process is not particularly complicated as you just saw, but it does require some planning.