Installation of a rain barrel is not a particularly complicated affair.
The actual steps involved and hardware required will vary to a small extent depending on your location and the rain barrel you choose.
If you want to buy one, check out the large selection of rain barrels at Clean Air Gardening.
There are several different types of rain barrels made from recycled food barrels, varying in size, shape and color. Some of them come in a terra cotta (red orange) color, and some of them come in blue, white, gray, black, etc.
The rain barrel here is available as a single 54 gallon rain barrel, or a double 108 gallon rain barrel. Here we will show you how to assemble and set up both rain barrel options.
First Step. Unpack the Rain Barrel
The Arid Solutions rain barrel is available either as a single tank unit, or with an optional second tank that sits on top to double the capacity of the system. To set up simply open the box, fold back the flaps, then set the tank on the ground and lift the box off of the tank.
The following parts are included with the rain barrel: Brass Spigot for filling buckets, etc. Y Fitting to connect hoses to the bottom of the tank Overflow cap Mosquito screen Grate Teflon Tape Hose Fittings Wildflower seeds
The barrel uses nylon fittings that are securely attached to the tank; two at the top for overflow, one midway up the tank for the spigot, and one on bottom to attach the Y fitting. Unlike other rain barrels I have installed the fittings require no tools to prevent them from spinning in place.
Assembling the Rain Barrel
First, take the brass spigot and wrap the threads with one turn of Teflon tape, counter clockwise from the spigot side as shown. This will prevent the tape from unwinding as you thread it into the hole on the rainbarrel. Teflon tape acts as a sealant to keep water from leaking past the threads.
Next, carefully thread the spigot into the hole on the rain barrel hand tight only. When threading a metal fitting into a nylon receptacle it can cross thread very easily, so be sure that you have it aligned correctly. The spigot does not have to be overly tight as the Teflon tape will keep it from leaking. The spigot is located high on the tank to allow easy filling of buckets and other containers, but being located this far up the tank it will not allow access to all of the water in the tank. For normal usage and draining of the tank you are supplied with a Y hose fitting.
Before placing the Y fitting on the nylon spigot wrap the threads with Teflon tape. Then simply screw on the fitting by hand until snug.
The Y fitting features valves that can be shut off individually so that you can close off one or both of the lines as needed. Remember to close off both of the valves on the fitting now. It would be easy to forget about the valves after installation.
The last step before installation is the grate and mosquito screen. The grate can be used without the screen, if you really like mosquitoes.
To attach the mesh to the grate, use a small amount of plumber adhesive or caulk.
Then just set the grate down into the top of the tank.
Set the tank under the spigot to where water runoff will feed into the top of the barrel. Since the spigot on this model is mounted fairly high you can install the barrel low to the ground, but keep in mind that the filled barrel will weigh quite a bit and must be on a solid surface, preferably brick or concrete.
The two fittings near the top are for the attachment of over flow hoses in case of heavy rains or long periods where you have not used the water gathered in the rain barrel.
A block off cap is provided in case you only wish to use one of the overflow fittings. It is important that you attach a garden hose to at least one of these fittings; improper drainage can cause damage to your foundation. The block off cap comes with a rubber gasket that needs to be inserted into the cap, then simply tighten the cap down hand tight. The kit comes with two hose fittings so that you can cut and make custom length drainage hoses from ordinary garden hose.
Assembling the Optional Expansion Tank
The optional expansion tank effectively doubles the capacity of the rain barrel. Assemble the main tank as above only do not install the grate. Unpack the expansion tank as you did fort the main tank.
The following parts will be included: PVC Connecting pipe (2) hose connections Block off caps for lower overflow Wildflower seeds.
Thread the large PVC pipe into the top of the lower tank about three to four turns. It should fit into the threads snug, but you should not have to force it. Be careful not to cross-thread. The instructions included recommend having a second person assist you but I found that it was easy enough to do with one. It helps to look down through the hole in the top of the expansion tank.
Center the expansion tank on top of the pipe and while making sure that you keep the expansion tank level turn it clockwise to thread it onto the pipe. Once it is started you can spin it in place to tighten.
Continue to spin the upper tank until it is flush against the top of the lower tank and the sides line up on both the upper and lower tanks.
Place the gaskets into the two block-off caps and use them to cap off the two overflow fittings on the main (lower) tank. The expansion tank has its own overflow fittings that will be used instead.
The grate from the main tank above will drop into the hole on top of the expansion tank. Install the expanded rain barrel in place the same as the instructions for the lower tank alone.