Rainwater Harvesting Rain Barrels Making a Rain Barrel

Supply List

  • Food grade barrel
  • Insect netting
  • Faucet
  • 1 ¾” Bulk Head Fitting with ¾” internal pipe threading
  • Drill-with 1 ¾” hole saw bit
  • Saw – Jig or small hand saw
  • Silicone Caulk
  • Teflon Tape
  • Optional:
    • Bungee Cord
    • Cinder Blocks


Connecting separate piping to redirect overflow water away from the barrel, plants and your foundation may be necessary. There are many methods of doing this and the bulk head fitting method may be used again. It is important to note you must protect the barrel from insect and/or rodent access, so netting should be introduced either at the barrel connection or at the end of the pipe.

Algae growth

Some algae may accumulate in your barrel but is not typically a problem when the water is being used and the barrel allowed to fill with fresh water. The best practice is to protect your barrel from unwanted light and exposure. The best color to eliminate algae growth is black, so we suggest priming/painting your barrel black first, then you have a base to design or decorate it however you choose.

Drilling Collection Hole

drilling collection hole

Create a 5” – 6” hole, use a circle template, on the lid using drill & paddle bit for a pilot hole and Jig saw or drywall saw to complete the large hole for collection.

Installing Bulk Head & Faucet

installing bulk head

Add a piece of duck tape (sticky side out) to end of a yard stick and secure the male piece of the bulkhead fitting on the end of the yardstick. Then, carefully place bulkhead male threaded piece inside the barrel and through 1 3/4” hole on side. Hold in place. Place the rubber washer and female piece of the bulkhead on male end and tighten. Apply pipe tape to faucet thread and insert gently twisting faucet in the bulk head. Use a pair of pliers to hold the bulkhead in place and turn faucet clockwise. As you tighten the faucet the bulk head should tighten making the connection water tight.

Additional Storage

Connecting multiple barrels together allows you to capture more rainwater. This should be thought of as an overflow into another barrel. Connecting the barrels at the highest point allows the initial fill barrel to overflow into other barrels chained together. Keep in mind if you connect at the top you must provide an exit point at each barrel in order to access the rainwater. Connecting the barrels at the bottom allows the barrels to slowly fill together and only requires one exit point because the water will travel between barrels as the water level lowers.

Drilling the Faucet Hole

drilling faucet hole

Create a 1 3/4” hole on the side of the barrel for the bulk head fitting using a hole saw bit, opposite of the collection hole.

Installing Netting

installing netting

Apply a bead of caulk around lid hole and place netting over hole working caulk outward spreading all over netting in contact with lid.


Elevating your barrels 12”-18” increases the available pressure from the faucet. It is not necessary to exceed this height and you do not want to create a hazard. Keep in mind the pressure is not enough to go long distances through a hose or uphill. It is however enough to fill a watering can or go short distances through a hose and fill some drip tubing (see drip irrigation for more information). In situations where more pressure is needed a pump may be needed. External pumps, also known as transfer pumps, are excellent investments and will help increase your delivery distance as well as versatility with drip tubing and soaker hoses. This also means water will leave you barrel faster so make sure you are monitoring the barrel when pumps are being utilized.

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