Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shout Down my Rain Barrel!

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more.

Rain Barrels made from recycled materials
We went to a class provided by Bridging the Gap at a local recycling center last Tuesday evening and made two 55 gallon rain barrels. The rain barrels are made from mostly recycled materials. Big, white plastic food-quality drums are brought to the recycling center by Pepsi by the semi-trailer truck load about every 2 to three weeks and in a previous life contained soda syrup. The drums were being ground up and tossed in the land fill. Now they are finding a second and long life in the yards on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas state line as rain barrels.

The parts include: white Pepsi plastic barrel, an 8 inch plastic flower pot, nylon screen, rubber band made from tires reclaimed from recycled bikes, a male pipe connector, a sump pump hose, and a water spigot.

How to pull it all together: Turn the flower put upside down and draw a circle on the lid of the barrel. Use a jig saw to cut just inside the hole, maybe about 1/2 inch smaller so the pot can sit in the hole. The hole is just a little bit smaller than the lip of the flower pot. Take the strip of bike tire and tie it around the top of the pot, then take the screening and tuck it under the rubber band, pulling down tight all around tight. The flower pot sits in the hole on the top of the barrel and acts as a filter for the incoming water and also keeps out insects such as mosquitoes which look for standing water in which to breed.

Next drill with a saw hole bit and cut a hole about one inch in diameter at the bottom front of the barrel then screw in the water spigot. Then drill a hole high on the top side of the barrel to accommodate the sump pump hose. The hose serves as an overflow. (See how-to video below).

One of our two rain barrels is pictured on the left --->

In the future, we may make one barrel at a time. Picture a big white barrel in the back seat behind my husband who was scrunched next to a big white barrel in the passenger front seat. I was feeling like a pretzel in the right back and it was my job to watch out for traffic on the right since all mirrors were obscured by barrels.

Friday evening we the leveled the ground for the barrels and placed two cinder blocks in each spot as raised bases. Raising the barrels on blocks provides some added water pressure for the spigot and makes it easier to fill a watering can or attach a hose.

We were supposed to be having rain all week, but had no rain until this morning. We had all the supplies we needed to finish setting up the barrels. All we needed to do was cut the downspouts and attach the diverters. So we woke up to rain and hurried out to set up the barrels.

It was amazing. We had a somewhat light drizzly rain for a couple of hours. When we went to check the barrels after about an hour of rain. One barrel was already full and using its overflow hose. The other barrel's spigot was open...something we didn't notice while the barrel was we lost some water there.

Our instructor told us that a 1,000 square foot house can shed over 20,000 gallons of water a year. I believe it now after seeing how quickly our barrels filled today. The cost for two barrels: materials and class, $35 per barrel (the are raising the fee to $45 which is still a bargain), flexible diverter, screws and washers $18, cinder blocks about $6. Total about $104 for materials and setup of two 55 gallon barrels. If you bought pre-made barrels from a garden center, they would cost about $150 each. They might be a bit more aesthetic, but otherwise function no differently. Our barrels were about $52 each installed. We are planning to make a few more barrels and daisy chain them.

Here's a good resource for pre-made and custom-made rain barrels. You can also get some great ideas from the site: Aaron's Rain Barrels and More. I like Aaron's creative ideas for daisy chaining barrels and there's a great idea for a barrel stand made from landscaping stones.

Watch the video below for a pretty close example of how we made ours. The only difference is that we put screen-door screening over the top of the flower-pot version of an atrium gate. He puts a filtering cloth at the bottom. Our style of build allows the overflow tubing to be place higher. Watch the video and this will make sense.

Video: How to make your own rain barrel from a food-quality 55 gallon drum.

Buzz it up

1 comment:

anajz said...

This is absolutely awesome! Water barrels and a collections system is at the head of my wishlist.

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