Near the end of last summer, after contributing to strain on our municipality sewer system and the local river and after having paid water and sewer charges for several months to water my garden, I decided to look into getting a rain barrel or two. There are additives like chlorine and fluoride in my water and these are hard on plants. I may no longer feel I need to use fertilizers when I use rain water. My municipality water supplier will give me a credit each month for each rain barrel I attach – up to two. After coming up with a few requirements for my needs I made my choice. To read about how I made my choice from the many options, click here.
This is what we did.
I purchased a Fiskars ‘Salsa’ rain barrel with a downspout diverter ‘diverter pro’ and a 58 gallon capacity. I decided on a sealed system, no screens in the barrel or open tops for debris and bug entry. My first rain after hookup yielded a full barrel within an hour with a moderate rain shower! The water that is in there now is still clean and fresh after several weeks of sitting. I have, of course, used some of it but we’ve had so much rain this summer I have not even needed it all yet. (I wrote this article in the summer of 2013)
Our first step was to build a raised, level platform for the rain barrel to sit on. We chose a place next to one of our downspouts and used a course builders sand as a base. We placed pavers over the sand to raise the barrel height. You can use bricks, cement blocks, wood, a plastic base or whatever you like to raise the barrel height. This will help the water flow out of your barrel using gravity.
We needed a drill, measuring tape, and a hole saw for our drill. We put the barrel in place on our raised platform,checked for level, and cut the downspout (using a hack saw) so the diverter hose would be level with the hole in the barrel per the instructions that came with the barrel. Different diverters require different placement. On our barrel we drilled the hole for the diverter connection.
The hole in the barrel for the spigot to put a watering can under (or attach a hose to) was already done by Fiskars. I wanted another hole, lower down, for a hose connection. This would be both for a hose and for ease of emptying the barrel completely.
We made a mark on the barrel where the second hole was to go. Using a drill bit, we drilled a small pilot hole first so the hole saw would stay in place. We drilled the hole for the second spigot using the same hole saw we had used for the diverter connection.
I had purchased the second spigot and we put it in place with a metal nut on the inside, carefully tightening it with a cloth so as not to damage the plastic spigot. I chose plastic over brass because plastic is lighter and would put less stress on the plastic barrel. Plastic against plastic. We then attached the spigot that came with the barrel.
We then ran into difficulties. The diverter would not fit on our 2”x 3” downspout. We have vinyl gutters and downspouts. For the top connection we used more screws to pull the downspout to the diverter and had to really do a lot of adapting to connect the bottom section. We took the diverter to the store and spent the day trying to find something that would fit on the outside of the lower end of the diverter rather than on the inside as designed. It was slightly too big to fit so it buckled and the downspout corners are a bit rounded but the diverter was square so the water just ran through that opening at all four corners. We thought we might use metal downspout material but found that metal did not fit either! When either vinyl or metal downspout was inside, on the bottom section, the rain water could leak everywhere. We needed to keep the water away from our foundation.
The pictures show our solution. The only leak we now have is a very small one where the diverter hose fits into the connector at the barrel. We can live with that. After 2 days and many trips to the hardware and big box stores we started our rain dance. Whew!