Plastic Rain Barrel Installation
The supplies and methods listed here are for a basic, low-cost installation for a barrel set up. Your rain barrel stand needs to hold 425 pounds – the weight of a barrel full of water. Cement blocks work well. You can also build a stand from treated lumber if your barrel is on a paved area.
You will need:
8 cinderblocks (8" x 8" x 16")
1 downspout elbow the same size as the one on your downspout now.
6 small sheet-metal screws (preferably weather-resistant)
two or three 50-pound bags of gravel
1. Remove the elbow from the downspout where the rain barrel will be installed using a hacksaw. Cut off the downspout at about 4 feet from the ground. Attach the old elbow to your new elbow to form an S-shaped double-elbow.
2. If the rain barrel is to sit on the ground, level the area where it will sit. Add gravel to smooth and achieve a truly level surface, using a level to check. Left to right, your base area should be centered on the downspout. Typically, you'll want the gravel to be a few inches thick while ensuring that the gravel area be at least 3x3 feet.
3. Add cinder blocks so you can install your rain barrel on a raised base to get it high enough that you can slip a bucket or watering can under the drain. Arrange the first layer of four cinder blocks on the gravel to form a 2x2 ft base. Left to right, the base should be centered on the downspout. Front to back, the base should be an inch or two from the house wall.
4. Place your rain barrel on the blocks, so that the barrel is in the center of the base and the inlet hole in the top of the barrel is to the rear and center with the spout above. If the double-elbow doesn't stick out far enough to end up over the inlet opening, you may need to insert a short section of downspout between the elbows to get the exit further away from the wall. Leave a couple of inches between the bottom of the double-elbow and the inlet screen.!
Overflow: The overflow arm should direct water away from your house.
Freezing: Although we have never had a report of a broken barrel due to freezing, you should drain your barrels before winter hits and leave the drain open through cold weather to keep water from accumulating in the barrel.
You could also remove the rain barrel and put a piece of flexible drain hose on the double-elbow to guide water away from the house.
As debris from the downspout accumulates on the inlet screen, it should be cleaned off. The new improved screens have double layers to keep them from breaking.
If you have any rain barrel questions email at:
Want more barrels (or know someone who wants one)?
Call Sustainable Berea at (859) 985-1689.