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These instructions apply to making a rain barrel using a 55-gallon poly barrel. The barrel will be elevated on cement building blocks to provide access to the bottom mounted spigot. Elevation may be increased to allow access for filling watering cans, etc. Elevation also increases the water pressure coming out the end of the hose.

CAUTION: Be sure that the cement blocks are on a flat and level surface and are fully supported so they will not sink into the ground or otherwise become unbalanced. If elevated, stagger the blocks so that the seams do not align vertically. A full barrel of water will weigh approximately 450 lbs. Read these instructions in their entirety before starting work on the Rain Barrel.

Barrel Notes:

  • Use of a poly (plastic) barrel is recommended as it will not rust.
  • Use of a "food grade" barrel is recommended so as to avoid possible contamination of the
  • water supply and the items to be watered from whatever the barrel originally contained.
  • Barrels are available with removable or non-removable tops. Get the non-removable type.
  • Potential sources for barrels. Other sources may be found by searching the telephone book Yellow Pages, etc. In any case you should inquire as to the former contents of the barrel and seek out a "food grade" quality.

Container Supply Co.
Oklahoma City, OK.

Note: It is believed that they can provide "food grade" containers.

Midwest Container Reconditioning
6610 S Hwy 66
Tulsa, OK 74131

CAUTION: Barrels supplied by this company are not "food grade".
Although they are thoroughly cleaned, they may contain trace amounts
of their former contents which may include pesticides, herbicides,
acids, petroleum products, etc. which may pose a health hazard.

Materials List:

  • 1 - 55 gallon barrel.
  • 1 - 3 inch x 4 inch PVC Coupling
  • 1 - 1-1/2 inch PVC Street Elbow
  • 1 - 1-1/2 inch PVC Coupling
  • 1 - 1-1/2 inch PVC 90 deg. Elbow
  • 1 - 1-1/2 inch x 6 foot PVC Pipe
  • 2 - 3/4 inch x 3 inch Galvanized pipe nipple
  • 1 - 3/4 inch Galvanized pipe connector
  • 1 - 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch Galvanized 90 degree elbow
  • 1 - Spigot, 3/4 inch connection
  • 1 - 5 inch Screw type hose clamp
  • 1 - 8 inch x 8 inch metal screen wire
  • 4 - Cement building blocks.
    Note: Number of blocks can vary according to desired height of rain barrel.
  • 1 - Teflon™ tape
  • 1 - "All-Purpose" PVC cement (buy the smallest can you are able to buy)

Tool List:

  • Electric drill
  • 3/4 inch hole saw or drill bit
  • 1-7/8 inch hole saw, reciprocating saw or key hole saw
  • 4 inch hole saw, reciprocating saw or key hole saw
  • Screw driver


Step 1: Spigot Fitting
  1. The top of the barrel typically will have two holes fitted with bungs (plugs).
  2. At least one of the bungs will have a 3/4 inch threaded hole that is closed at the bottom of the thread.
  3. Using a 3/4 inch hole saw or drill bit, cut or drill through the bung being careful not to damage the threads (figure 1).
  4. Alternatively, you can have the barrel supplier remove the bung (they use a special tool to do so) and you can fit PVC fittings in its place.
Figure 1

Step 2: Fill Fitting
  1. Turn the barrel over so that the bottom of the barrel is up.
  2. Place the 3 inch x 4 inch PVC Coupling near the edge of the bottom that will be closest to the rain gutter down spout and mark the hole as shown in Figure 2.
  3. Using a 4 inch hole saw, reciprocating saw or key hole saw, cut a hole in the bottom of the barrel (Figure 3).
  4. This is the hole where rainwater will enter the barrel.
Figure 2 Figure 3

Step 3: Overflow Fitting
  1. Turn the barrel on its side.
  2. On the side directly opposite and at the same end of the barrel as the 4 in fill hole, mark the 1-1/2 inch Street Elbow in the same manner approximately 2-3 inch from the top of the barrel (Figure 4).
  3. Cut the hole using a 1-7/8 inch hole saw, reciprocating saw or key hole saw (Figure 5 ).
Figure 4 Figure 5

Step 4: Drain / Garden Hose Spigot
  1. Be sure to wrap all threads with Teflon™ tape prior to assembly.
  2. Assemble the galvanized steel fittings and the spigot as shown in Figures 6 and Figure 7.
Figure 6 Figure 7

Step 5: Spigot Assembly
  1. Screw the spigot assembly from Step 4 into the 3/4 inch threaded bung fitting in the top (now the bottom) of the barrel.
  2. Caution: Hand tighten only enough to prevent leakage (Figure 8). Over tightening will damage the threads in the bung fitting.
Figure 8

Step 6: Overflow Assembly
  1. Insert the 1-1/2 inch 90 degree Street Elbow into the 1-7/8 inch hole cut in Step 3 .
  2. Apply a liberal amount of All-Purpose cement inside one end of the 1-1/2 inch PVC coupling.
  3. Reaching into the barrel through the 4 in fill hole, twist the coupling onto the Street Elbow.
  4. This coupling will keep the overflow pipe from dislocating f rom the barrel.
  5. Be sure that the elbow outlet points downward.

Step 7: Final Location
  1. Place the rain barrel on the cement blocks in its final location. Be sure that the open end of the Street Elbow points downward.
  2. Measure from the Street Elbow to ground level and cut the PVC pipe 1 - 2 inch shorter than that dimension.
  3. Apply All-Purpose cement to the inside of the Street Elbow and insert the PVC pipe into the Elbow using a twisting motion.
  4. Determine which direction you want the overflow discharge to go.
  5. Apply All-Purpose cement to the inside of the 90 degree Elbow and place it onto the bottom end of the PVC pipe, again with a twisting motion, and align the outlet in the pre-determined direction.
  6. For additional storage capacity, place an additional rain barrel beside the first barrel
  7. Cut a hole in the side of the second barrel the same as in Step 3 .
  8. Connect the two barrels with 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe using the overflow hole from the first barrel into the hole in the second barrel.
  9. Route the overflow assembly from the second barrel as per above.
    Note: that a spigot is required in both barrels (unless you also similarly connect the barrels at the bottom in the same manner as done for the top overflow connection.)
  10. A fill fitting is not required for the second barrel. (i.e. omit Step 2 ).

Step 8: Fill Fitting Assembly
  1. Fit the 8 inch x 8 inch screen wire over the larger end of the 3 inch x 4 inch Coupling
  2. Attach the 5 inch screw type clamp to hold the screen in place.
  3. Place All-Purpose cement on the smaller end of the Coupling and insert it into the 4 inch hole (Figure 9).
Figure 9

Step 9: Final Steps
  1. For additional sealing of the Fill and overflow fittings, apply liberal amounts of All-Purpose cement around the fittings where they enter the barrel.
  2. Attach additional lengths of 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe to the overflow outlet to route overflow water where you want it.

    ( NOTE: Overflow should be directed away from the house foundation.)

  3. Route the rain gutter down spout so it directs water into the rain barrel inlet fitting/screen.

CAUTION: In all cases this water is not suitable for drinking purposes.