Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rain Barrels - part one

My “Honey Do List” is usually overflowing. However the latest task is filing a newly purchased rain barrel without overflowing. As these barrels are usually stationed near an eves downspout, overflow must be avoided so the excess drainage does not irrigate the house foundation and wash away the soil. Even more importantly the extra moisture resulting from excess drainage in the area of the foundation over the winter months could freeze and cause damage including cracking of the foundation. If you are attempting to install this overflow type rain barrel, this is a very important consideration. I have attempted to describe my process below. Standard disclaimer, this is offered for information only and I will not be held responsible for any problems with your installation.

The methodology below with describe how to do this properly with care free maintenance of your reservoir. Please be aware that this procedure applies to overflow type rain barrels available from the Peel Region but except for the actual connection to the rain barrel can be universally applied.

Bill of Material
Peel region rain barrel and accessories
Qty 2 male x female downspout adapters
Qty small piece 1/8” – 3/16” plexiglass about 3” square
Clear silicon sealant
1” x 1” male x male hose coupling
1 Washing machine drainage hose kit
Assorted tie wraps, camps and hardware.

First the rain barrel itself must be set in location near the downspout. Firmly compact the soil where the barrel it be located level. I used a few interlocking bricks I had left over from a deck project to form a hard base on which the rail barrel could sit. Mark the level of the inlet spigot (back and side of the rain barrel) onto the brick wall next to it.. Using a level or the brick mason joint as a reference, mark the exact same level on the brick next to the downspout. It is very important to get this level right, the rain barrel will fill by gravity, once the level is where you want it the inflow will actually stop and the rain barrel water level will be no higher than the level of the inlet spigot. Getting this part right means your rain barrel will not overflow. Just in case, there is an overflow outlet on the backside of the rain barrel, you should use the soft plastic hose provided with the kit and connect it to the outlet, run it underneath the rain barrel in the recess provided and any potential overflow will be routed to the front where you can see it and direct it accordingly. Personally I don’t like the soft plastic hose provided and elected to use 1.5” DWV drainage pipe and a 90 deg elbow to route the pipe under the rain barrel and out the front. It’s up to you.

Now with the barrel placed and the level set, fill it with water and let it rest a few days so the ground can settle under the weight of the water, During that time we will construct the ingenious little weir that allows the rain barrel to fill only to the level required.

See attached picture of the weir first.

The weir is constructed to provide a little pocket inside the downspout oriented to catch the majority of water flow coming down the downspout. The pocket fills and is connected by flex hoses to the inlet spigot of the rain barrel. This pocket should be about 1 “ above the inlet spigot of the rain barrel. Once the level of the rain barrel is full the water will no longer drain down the hose into the barrel casing the pocket to fill and overflow inside the downspout. The overflow will resume it’s path to the ground via the downspout and safely directed onto you lawn and no where near the foundation.

See installment # 2 for construction of the weir (pocket)


  1. You and Mike Holmes friends?! Sounds like you can be on his show!

  2. It all sounds great but it is wsy over my capabilities. Maybe in your spare time you can come and put one together for me.

  3. HOLLY CROW CATHY!!!!!!!!!!
    I though you where a home make not a construction engineer. How did you get soooo smart? And to be able to explain it sooo well. Kudos to you brave heart. We must all recognized you are not just a pretty face. And why is this on your Honey Do List? Are you the superviser? Love You