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Rain barrels. Finding, making...  RSS feed

 
                      
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Greetings to all from the, I assume, newest member of the forum!  I am Stacey, the Hegemom, novice gardener with all the zeal of a convert.

So here's my question:

I'm in Missouri and cannot, for the life of me, find a rain barrel.  Anywhere.  The mail order ones are lovely but the shipping is exorbitant.

Anyone ever make one?  Or have any advice for 1) finding one; 2) making one; 3) rain barrel do's and don't?

Many thanks,

Stacey, the Hegemom
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 21369
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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The closest I have come to making a rain barrel is to have a barrel that I would fill with city water to let the water warm up and the chlorine off-gas before using it.

But!  I can say that I recently acquired four, big, food grade barrels for FREE by posting on craigslist.  I just asked.  A guy replied that he has a company that makes pesto.  A lot of their ingredients come in barrels and they have to get rid of them.  Come pick them up!

Got a bunch of plastic buckets too!

So I take it you want to collect rain water off of your roof?  What is your roof made of?

 
                      
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Hi there, Paul!  The roof is your plain old generic tar, shingles and paper that passes for modern construction these days, although it's an ANCIENT house. 

Did you install a hose attachment to the barrels? or a spigot?  or what?

Thanks!
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21369
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I've seen barrels with a spigot attached.  And used them - cool!

The one barrel I had, I just dunked my watering can in.

As for collecting stuff from your roof - most people do stuff where they just pipe the gutters to a barrel.  Although I have also read of a lot of people thinking that the first gallon or two off of the roof has a lot of icky stuff in it, so they have inventions for getting rid of the first gallon or two.

 
                                  
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perhaps another question to ask is what do you want to do with the water?  are you planning to use it to water ornamentals? or veggies? or are you interested in rainwater harvesting for something like flushing toilets?

for ornamentals (or flushing toilets) it won't really matter what the roof composition is; for veggies and other consumable plants, I don't think I'd want to use the water coming off a tar/shingles roof... 

how old is your roof?  does it need to be replaced any time soon?  if so, you might want to consider a metal roof, or alternatively a roofing that incorporates "building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)" in order to maximize solar gain, along with rainwater harvesting.  Here's a link for more information about BIPV: http://www.wbdg.org/design/bipv.php

also - for finding barrels, if you don't live somewhere where Craig's List is active - google "industrial materials exchange" or "IMEX" - you'll be able to find a great wealth of various materials this way, including barrels of all kinds...

here's a good link for more information about roof rainwater harvesting, including some tips on whether or not it's worth it based on your average annual rainfall to try to harvest the rain: http://www.buildings.com/Articles/detailBuildings.asp?articleID=3233

good luck!
 
                      
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Ah, an excellent point about edibles.  Hadn't thought of that.  Mostly I just want to conserve water and use it, at present, for ornamentals. 

Nonetheless, I sadly have no edibles (except for herbs) yet.  But will post on that topic in another forum at some point. 

Thanks for the input!
 
                                
Posts: 44
Location: Middle Georgia
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Do you have a Lowes or Home Depot or large scale Hardware store?
Then you have all the rain barrels you need.
Buy a plastic Trashcan they come in 55 gallon sized plastic trash cans.
Go to plumbing but a plastic hose spicket that you can hook your garden hose up to and can turn on and off.
All you need is a drill and a little silicone sealant to install the water spicket near the bottom of the trash can and wah lah instant rain barrel.
You can get more fancy and hook up two trashcans with plastic tubing and fittings if you like as well.
Its also alot cheaper than the store bought rain barrels.
I cut a hole the exact size of the rain gutter in the top so that it keeps out mosquitos and bugs. That way the rain gutter runs directly into the top of the trashcan filling it up.
Hope that makes sense.
 
                                
Posts: 44
Location: Middle Georgia
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http://www.rittenhouse.ca/asp/Product.asp?PG=1563
theres a link with pictures and a how to
 
Marilyn Queiroz
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Posts: 60
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pixelphoto wrote:
I cut a hole the exact size of the rain gutter in the top so that it keeps out mosquitos and bugs

The exact size of the rain gutter? Not even enough room for a mosquito? That would be my issue ... breeding mosquitos.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 21369
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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You can control the skeeters for about ten cents.  Get a feeder goldfish.  Maybe two.  Skeeter larva make great goldfish food.  So do skeeters landing on the water with the idea of laying eggs.

 
                                
Posts: 44
Location: Middle Georgia
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Marilyn I havent really had any problem and I dont have the goldfish. I have heard other people mention that as well though.
I use the water for watering my garden so I probably disturb the levels enough to not have the mosquito larva to get started breeding I guess.
 
John Meshna
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont
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Even though the idea of saving valuable drinking water is a very good one and rain barrels are one good way to do that, I've always thought they were a bad idea.
First of all, every house I ever saw them on had rotted corner boards or some aother part iwth mold right where the barrel was located.

Second, most, not all but most roofs are made of asphalt and they have all kinds of nasty goo holding them together in places and they often have lead flashing around chimneys and other hard to form areas where aluminum flashing won't work.  Aluminum aint so hot either.  Some have copper components.  Even creosote from chimneys can get into the water.  Altogether they make quite a soup.

Terracotta roofs, cedar shake roofs and others with minimal flashing might be okay.
 
                                      
Posts: 1
Location: USA
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hello Stacey, there are sites that discuss about do's and dont's of rain barrels
 
                        
Posts: 3
Location: ND
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I collect rain from the house roof into several large tanks. On the latest collection, a white slurry like substance appeared in the tank with the rain fall. Sort of odd looking and not immediately identifiable. Soon it settled to the top and I concluded it was pollen from the large overun chokecherry tree groves on the raabfarm, which were blooming like mad for the previous week depositing their pollen everywhere.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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If you search for a rain barrel, then google for water tank and you might get more. And don't fiddle around with some 55 gal or 2000 or so liters. In our old place we had 7000 liters only for the garden and we were nearly down once in the two years we lived there and water restrictions, now we have 22000 ltrs. And you know the bigger the thing is the cheaper it is per liter. You put it on a gravel or crusher dust base and best make a timber frame around that base.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I recently attended a rainbarrel workshop put on by Clemson University.  They have a great handout that you can just take to your local hardware store to pick up all of the supplies you need. 

It was incredibly simple.  There are screens that go over the top and a screen that covers the overflow to help with mosquitoes. 

They suggested painting black to help prevent algea growth.

There were a number of studies done on collection from different roof types.  Metal being the best but even old asphalt shingles like mine do not present a problem for watering edibles or washing the dog or dirty hands in the garden.  There were some residual chemicals from the roof but if you eat anything that comes out of a grocery store or fast food joint you are already exposed to much worse.

I have a soaker hose attached to mine that goes to a couple of garden beds.  That way I am using the water but just at a slower pace.  If you don't have gutters you can make a rain chain out of any chain, expensive or cheap plastic. 

I will try to remember to scan the handout tonight when I am at work and can e-mail or upload it.

Believe me, If I can make it then anyone can make it.  I have two now and plan to make more.






 
Paula Edwards
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Lots of Australian homes rely on rainwater. I wouldn't be so fuzzy. Tap water goes through copper and plastic pipes and is treated with heaps of chemicals. If it's only for veggies it is OK if you want to drink it you have to keep your gutters clean.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I didn't have to scan it in after all; here is a link to the handout that they gave in class.

A couple of notes:  I used bungee cords to secure the screen around the top.  I already have plenty of them.

Next time I will make my faucet lower towards the bottom.  The is currently about 3" of water that will only drain if I tip the barrel.

The higher you place your barrel the more pressure to get the water out (if you are not going to use a pump).  I have mine on two layers of concrete block. 

If you google rainbarrels, Clemson Extension you can find much more material and studies on rainwater harvesting than you probably want to know.

http://www.clemson.edu/public/carolinaclear/consortiums/pickens_home/downloads/rainbarrel_manual.pdf
 
Paula Edwards
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I can't repeat it often enough don't fiddle around with barrels get something decent, a tank, it is not that much more expensive! Especially when you live in a dry area and have water restrictions. Tanks are easy to install, even I can do that. In any water emergency you will have your backup or if there's a fire. A barrel this is what I would maybe connect the roof of a shed with, but not your house.
 
Tim Canton
Posts: 175
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I started using a 275 gallon tote this year and I have noticed a slight green tinge on the tank if the water sits a few days.    its an opaque tank.  will the small amount of algae hurt vegetables?  I want to imagine no since you can buy micronutrient ferts made of algae  Any thoughts or experiences?    If the algae is dangerous I guess i can try to block some light from the tank.


As for the roof materials etc.  There simply is no pure water anymore with the exception of springs .....maybe....  I mean rainwater is contaminated, city water is full of chemicals, old copper pipes, galvanized pipes, plastic pipes , vinyl hoses,  etc etc.      SO  are asphalt shingles really unacceptable for using the water on gardens?
 
Brian Chase
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Hello all!!

I have the same question as organick McCoy but there was never any reply. Is it bad if algae is growing in the water tank? Does it depend on what types of plants you are watering (ornamental, edible, etc)? I tried to do some research on my own but all I could find was about eliminating algae with UV light. That sounds way to expensive/complicated!

Thanks for your help!
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I can't imagine a little algae harming a plant. If you want to control it in your tank/barrel, you can paint the tank white. Black would retain heat, and algae grows best in warmer water.

You could filter it through several layers of window screen, and just dump it on your compost heap if you do not want a buildup on your soil.

Another solution to algae is barley straw. See here:
http://www.howeseeds.com/specialitygrains.htm
 
                        
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ediblecities Hatfield wrote:I can't repeat it often enough don't fiddle around with barrels get something decent, a tank, it is not that much more expensive! Especially when you live in a dry area and have water restrictions. Tanks are easy to install, even I can do that. In any water emergency you will have your backup or if there's a fire. A barrel this is what I would maybe connect the roof of a shed with, but not your house.


Here I can get clean 55 gallon barrels for $10 but to buy a new tank will cost around $1 gallon so $55 for the same capacity. There are quite a few videos on You Tube where people have stacked up several rows of barrels along a wall so they have quite a lot of water storage for a minimal cost, even with the bits and bobs needed to hook the barrels together If the barrels were free, like Paul found, then the cost gap is even more significant Also, sometimes a stack of barrels is easier to find floor space for than for one large tank. Then you also can use the first one or two barrels to filter the water if you are concerned about such things. ( a screen is basic, then you can get into layers of sand or/and charcoal for example).

You likely couldn't get the same the water pressure you could get from pumping out one tank though so not as useful to battle a fire with.

As for algae...My understanding is that if you have to block the light from the water to prevent algae so white or transclucent plastic will be difficult in this regard. Never tried it but maybe paint the tank?
 
Richard Nurac
Posts: 52
Location: north Georgia
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I don't mind algae going to my plants. After all, isn't seaweed a form of algae and seaweed extracts are touted as beneficial. The problem with algae, for me, is I use a low psi gravity feed system and the algae clogs my bubblers, which dispense the rainwater at my planting locations.

I don't use barrels because their holding capacity is so limited. I use a mix of previously used industrial chemical tanks of 285 gallons size (IBC's or totes) and large new holding tanks ranging in size from 1,600 gals to 2,400 gals - you can see my setup at my website: www.nutrac.info.

Incidentally, there is a great interactive manual on aquaponics from Australia (www.backyardaquaponics.com) where they use the 285 gal industrial chemical tanks called "IBC's" (intermediate bulk containers) and mention the need to ascertain what chemicals were previously stored and whether this presents health risks.
 
Rich Schindel
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Been doing some research myself and if you wanted to save yourself some of the hassle at the hardware store, you can get a kit with everything you need for $30.

http://www.rainbarrelparts.com/product_rbpEM_RSP_kits.php
 
Ray Cover
Posts: 132
Location: Missouri
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Stacy,

I live in Missouri too and I see them everywhere. If you live in the St Louis area. Bayer Nursery in Imperial has oak rain barels. If you live int eh Springfield area there is a place in Lebanon that makes oak barrrels for whiskey and wine companies. I forget the name. ITs something like American Stave Company or something like that.

If the plastic ones are OK for you I see the blue plastic ones in various places south of St Loui for sale in the $8-$12 range. They are food grade and usually used for transporting soda syrup. IF you go on Craigslist you can usually find the square 275 gal tote tanks for around $50-$75 each on the St Louis half of the state.

Ray
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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I built my own from plastic 55 gallon barrels and PVC parts. I based the design off of a PDF that the City of Albuquerque made available. I used PVC tee fittings so I could chain multiple barrels together. The write up for the barrels, photos, etc is here:
http://citylivingnaturally.com/green-yard/build-your-own-rain-barrels/

And the write up for designing the system (including the link to the PDF with the design info) is here:
http://citylivingnaturally.com/green-yard/rainwater-harvesting-system/

They’re really easy to set up and so far they’re working great. Just look on Craigslist for the barrels and make sure to ask what the barrels were used for. Some of mine had chili peppers and others had rubbing alcohol.
 
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