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By asking around at various businesses you may be able to find suitable plastic barrels to make your own rain barrels for little or no cost. This is a guide about rain barrels for practically free.
The total cost for this project is about $50 for materials (assuming you have the drill). This cost can be reduced considerably if you scour re-use centers or junkyards for used parts.
You absolutely must install overflow capability to any home-made rain barrel. The purpose of your downspouts are to direct water away from your home exterior and away from your home foundation. If you install a rain barrel on a downspout that doesn't have overflow capability, if the barrel fills up completely the water is going to have to flow out of that barrel from the lid (top).
When that happens the water is no longer being directed away from your home and instead will settle along the side of your house which can cause you to have foundation issues in the future. The overflow should be large enough to handle large rain events and should have a hose attached to it to direct water away. Rain barrels are a wonderful way to manage storm water, help to protect the environment and can save you money.
However, you need to make sure you're installing the barrel properly and that your barrel has these necessary safety features. Other than that I found the article to be informative. An overflow shouldn't just be considered a variation. It is a necessity for the type of barrel you described constructing.
With all the talk of saving water, I have not seen a suggestion to save rain water. Why let it run into the street? You can buy special rain water savers but why not make your own. Direct your drain spout into a large garbage bin and siphon the water out with a hose to where ever you want to water.
I built my rain barrel system (three barrels daisy chained together) back in 2002 and it has worked flawlessly! I do drain them in the winter to avoid freezing the spigot (I live in West Michigan where it does get cold in the winter). I have window screen as a removable filter to keep the trash out as well as keeping out mosquitoes. There is a helpful set of instructions on the web site of the Michigan Division of the Izaak Walton League (national conservation group). Just visit
www.michiganikes.org and look on the left side for printable documents.
This is the rain barrel we installed last summer. We live in the southwest high desert where it is arid, but we receive summer monsoon rains.
Here is a video that shows you to make you own rain barrel system for harvesting rain water.
Wow, the man from Canada, with his video, is very creative! Using old batteries, recycling old LED screens from broken yard lamps, & really loved how he even charges his two cell phones on this whole system! I thoroughly enjoyed his video!
Wondering about the contents that were previously in the black barrels, one says soap as you said, so should be safe & not even have to be washed out as soap water is good for plants & lawn ... but if others had chemicals in them, wouldn't you have to really wash them out very, very well? I have heard to use food grade (or even soap in this case) barrels. Were they just free from the Maple Auto Corp?
Wondering about the battery he is going to put under your deck steps ... will he have to build a shelter of some sort over the battery to protect it from rain & weather, or perhaps insert backings on the steps?
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Looking for creative ways to harvest rain. Rain barrels used to be a dime a dozen, but now that environmentalism is all the rage, it has driven the price way up on previously discarded industrial barrels. I'm looking for truly innovative ideas, not just using ready made products like trash cans.
By yoshhash from Windsor, ON
I buried my Large cheap Trashcans in the ground ( I tied 3 of them together with plumbing so that all 3 are connected) and added a submersible pump, with a hose attached to it. When I need water I plug in the pump and water away. You will have to innovative about the dangers of buried trashcans, you can also use a trash can and cover or decorate it using bricks, landscape timbers, or whatever, of course you will fill this with rainwater from the roof.
Please, please, please cover your cans, after the rain! This will not only prevent debris from clogging your pipes and evaporation losses. Still water is a great place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. No still water please! Don't make your back yard a haven for mosquitoes.