How to Set up a Rainwater Collection System Part 1 How to Set up a Rainwater Collection System Part 1

What You'll Need
55 gallon barrel, food grade with O-Ring removable lid, cleaned
Plastic Planter Pot, 9 inch diameter
large rubber band
2-inch ABS Male adapter with lock nut
1/2 -inch coupling with 2 inch extension
3/4 -inch hose bib spigot, 1/4 turn
1 rigid sealing lock nut (found in the electrical conduit section)
1/2 -inch Teflon Tape
Downspout adapter
Flexible downspout
Miscellaneous ABS pipe and ABS cement for optional overflow diversion
Power drill fitted with 1/2 -inch drill bit
Radial Saw (aka Jig Saw)
Dremel (optional)
X-acto Knife (optional)
Sand paper (optional)

Rainwater collection systems are a wonderful way to not only reduce your carbon footprint, but to lower household bills as well. Follow the steps below to build an effective system to collect rainwater to reuse.

Assessing Location

Locate the downspouts on the house to determine feasibility of rain barrel usage. Some criteria might include: discreetness of location, level terrain, volume of water, accessibility or placement of utility meters.

Step 1 - Establishing a Filter

Drill a holes in the bottom of the planter pot and four spaced along the sides. Line the pot with screening, tuck the screening under the lip of the planter and secure with a rubber band.

Step 2 - Cutting the Hole

Trace the opening of the planter pot onto the center of the barrel's lid. Use the drill to create a 1-inch starter hole inside the circumference of your traced circle. Once the hole has been started, continue cutting with a radial saw. Test the flower pot within the hole to ensure that the planter's lip adequately supports the pot.

Place the screened flower pot in the lid, and set aside until the barrel is finished. Replace the lid, securing the O-ring before hooking the barrel to the flexible downspout.

Overflow Valve

Separate the ABS Adapter. Using the female side of the adapter, trace the circumference onto the side of the barrel 4 inches from the top. Begin with a drilled hole, finishing with the radial saw. Screw the male end of the ABS adapter into the hole. The hole should be tight so sand or Dremel the hole's edges as needed before attaching the female end on the other side of the barrel.

Routing Overflow (optional)

Using standard ABS pipe and adhesive, direct the overflow away from the foundation of the house or into another catchment pool. This step is necessary on the last barrel in an expanded catchment system, but not for a single barrel.


Drill a hole 6 inches from the base of the barrel. Screw the electrical washer onto the coupling with the gasket is facing the threads.  Cover the threads with Teflon tape 2 to 3 layers thick. Dremel the edges of the hole to fit the coupling as necessary.  Enlarge the hole carefully. The coupling must to fit snugly preventing leakage. Cover the exposed end of the coupling with Teflon tape 2 to 3 layers thick. Screw the spigot onto the coupling.

Attaching the Downspout

Unscrew the existing drainage pipe from the gutter. Attach the downspout adapter with screws. Connect the flexible downspout to the adapter. Bend the flexible adapter so that the other end fits securely into the flower pot filter of the rain barrel. A support along the bend might be necessary to ensure stability.

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