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.
There are several different types of rain barrels made from recycled food barrels, varying in size, shape and color.
The rain barrel installed here is a 65 Gallon Rainbarrel USA rain barrel.
First step. Unpack the rain barrel.
This rain barrel is the most simple to set up of the rain barrels I have worked with and very sturdily constructed.
Assembling the Rain Barrel
The first thing you will notice is that the two threaded holes at the top and the one at the bottom are threaded aluminum inserts rather than the less durable nylon ones that most of these barrels come equipped with.
When threading nylon fittings into a nylon receptacle you have to use a wrench to keep the receptacle from turning with the fitting, and they will cross thread if you even look at them wrong. It takes extra effort for the manufacturer to use the aluminum receptacles but it’s worth it.
Once unwrapped, remove the lid simply by lifting it off and remove the bundle of parts from the bottom and lay them out. In this case, the parts consist of: Two hose fittings for the overflow pipe. A brass spigot pre-wrapped with Teflon tape. A mosquito screen. Two short screws Two long screws
Since the spigot has already had the Teflon tape applied (Teflon tape acts as a sealant to keep water from leaking past the threads), simply thread the spigot into the threaded hole in the bottom of the barrel by hand. You can use a wrench if you need to once you get it started but it doesn’t need to be much tighter than you can get it by hand.
The mounting receptacle for the spigot on this rain barrel is located all the way at the bottom of the barrel so that you will be able to get every last bit of water out; a good thing to be sure but this means that you will need to set the barrel on a raised surface such as concrete blocks.
Next, you will need to insert the two fittings into the holes located around the top of the barrel. These fittings are to attach hoses to the barrel so that if the barrel overflows you can divert the excess water away from your house. Since these are primarily a fail safe, no Teflon tape is really necessary on the threads.
Carefully insert the nylon fitting into the threaded receptacle taking care not to cross thread. Again a wrench could be used if needed but it shouldn’t be necessary.
Once the barrel is in place attach an ordinary garden hose to each fitting and route the hoses away from the house into a flower bed. If you live in an area where heavy rains are uncommon you could possibly get by without an overflow hose but if water is continuously routed near the foundation of the house damage could occur.
A word about safety: This rain barrel has a large lid that is simply placed on top of the barrel like a garbage can lid. A small child, or pet can easily drown in even a much smaller container of water and as children are curios and like to look down into such things. Having this lid on this barrel unsecured if you have small children, grandchildren and frequent guest who do is a tragedy waiting to happen. The two long screws provided in the kit will allow you to secure the lid semi-permanently by driving the screw through the side of the lid into the flange of the barrel. It’s an easy extra step and very self-explanatory; it won’t take but a few more minutes of your time and it will be worth the effort.
If you don’t have small children, being able to simply open the lid, dip in a bucket or clean the barrel is beneficial, and the wide opening is one of my favorite features of this barrel.
Finally, once the lid is in place simply drop in the mosquito screen. The barrel comes with two short screws to attach this screen but a small amount of plumbers adhesive or caulk will do the job much easier and will hold in the screen securely. This screen will lessen the risk of mosquitoes using your new rain barrel to make more mosquitoes and will also reduce the amount of debris that could fall into your barrel.
Since the entire wide lid of this barrel is basically a funnel it is a simple matter to set it under the drain pipe on a secure surface. Remember that once filled this barrel will be extremely heavy and just because it is sitting level empty does not mean it will sit level on wet ground filled with water. Bricks or concrete blocks are really your best bet and will raise the spigot up off of the ground to make it easier to attach a hose or fill a container.