Installing a rain catcher, or rain barrel, into your existing gutter system is an excellent way to harvest rainwater. The water collected in the barrel is captured directly from your gutter before it moves through a storm drain or runoff, where it could become contaminated with pollutants. This pure rainwater is often used to water lawns, plants and gardens, and installing one at your home’s gutter system is relatively easy. Conserving and reusing the rainwater may also cut down on large water bills throughout the spring and summer when you need to water constantly in order to keep your lawn, garden or flower beds producing and healthy.
Step 1 - Locate the best spot for your rain catcher by finding a level place next to a downspout that is near the areas you want to water. Choose a spot that can easily absorb any potential overflow from the barrel.
Step 2 - If you plan on using a hose to guide water to specific areas, place the rain catcher on cinder blocks to elevate it, in order for gravity to help direct the rainwater. This will also allow you to place a watering can under the lower spigot on the rain barrel.
Step 3 - Position your rain catcher adjacent to the downspout.
Step 4 - Cut the downspout with a hacksaw approximately 12 inches above the top of the barrel to allow enough space to attach an elbow section. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to save the section you cut off the downspout. You’ll want to reattach it during the winter months when your rain catcher is stored away for the season.
Step 5 - Attach the gutter elbow section to the remaining section of downspout with screws, overlapping the two pieces to avoid seepage. Position the lower part of the elbow section so it is aligned with the mesh inlet at the top of rain barrel, allowing the water to pass through the downspout and elbow and into the barrel.
Step 6 - Secure the downspout to the house with a gutter strap and screws.
Step 7 - Attach a hose to the to overflow hole at the top of the rain barrel to direct any overflow water to a specified area, such as a garden or another area of your lawn that can absorb excess water. If you do not wish to do this step, or if you do not foresee overflow issues, be sure that the area surrounding your rain catcher is not impervious and will absorb any water in the even that an overflow occurs.
Step 8 - Attach a second hose (if desired) to the lower spigot of the rain barrel to use for watering plants. If you choose not to attach a lower hose, you can turn the spigot on and off as necessary to fill watering cans.
Step 9 - Keep the lid securely on the rain catcher at all times for safety purposes and to keep children and animals out of the barrel.
Step 10 - Remember not to drink collected rainwater. Only use rainwater to water plants, rinse off hands or muddy boots or wash your car or other household items.