Well, a couple weeks ago I decided my puny little guys needed a little something. So I went balls to the wall and turned my rain barrels up to 11.
It all began with an innocent comment over dinner where I slipped in, “Hey baby, I’m thinking of adding a little volume to our water catchment. What do you think?” I don’t remember what details were sought… nor whether my mouth was full… nor maybe if I mumbled a little……. Who knows… The point is there was no objection and I promised they would be unobtrusive and blend right in.
Thanks to the magic of Craigslist, these beauties soon graced our driveway:
See? Barely noticeable.
Here’s an easy step by step installation guide for amping up your Water Storage systems.
As always, make sure you have Food Grade barrels that held something non-toxic. Mine held a corn oil and were already pre-rinsed by the seller. I regularly see these in our neck of Craigslist for anywhere from $40-$90 and a good search term would be something like “275 gallon IBC tote”. I snagged mine for $55 each. This translates into a pretty great overall price IMHO, considering one has the capacity of five 55 gallon barrels, which sell for $8-15 each… and especially since plumbing together five smaller barrels requires the purchase of more connection hardware, PVC, and work.
The entire tote, including its cage, measures 40″ wide x 48″ deep x 46″ tall. They typically have a six inch inlet at the top (sometimes you’ll see four inch) with a threaded screw on cap… and always a two inch outlet on the bottom with a simple but functional on/off ball valve spigot.
I began by removing the plastic tote from its metal enclosure (which makes these stackable!) and wrapping the entire thing in black 6 mil plastic. The plastic blocks sunlight and helps inhibit algae growth. In my opinion, and more importantly the Wife’s, it also makes the totes blend in a little better than the stark white. Thanks to a tip from a YouTube video I found, I learned that a 10’x14′ piece of plastic is the perfect size for wrapping these cubes like a giant Christmas present. All seams and folds were sealed with black duct tape.
The most difficult part of making these totes usable is figuring out how to connect a hose to that two inch outlet. Here is the simplest collection of parts I could come up with. Hopefully you’ll benefit from the half hour I spent in the plumbing aisle of our hardware store furiously test fitting every possible piece together like a manic meth addict. Save yourself some time and just pick up these.
- Flexible Downspout Extension – Attaches from the downspout and feeds into a hole I cut with a utility box cutter knife into the six inch threaded cap on the top of the tote. Everything fits nice and tight. Not shown is some scrap window screen I cut and attached in between the Extension and threaded cap. It prevents leaves, other gunk, and mosquitoes from entering the tote.
- 2″ x 2″ Flexible PVC Coupling – Tighten one end of this onto the 2 inch outlet spigot on the tote.
- 2″ x 3/4″ Bushing – Use PVC cement to glue Part #4 below into the 3/4″ side of this bushing. When dry, attach it to Part #2 above with the Coupling’s clamp.
- 3/4″ Threaded Adapter – The smooth side is cemented into the Bushing as stated above. The threaded side is connected to Part #5 below.
- 3/4″ In-line Ball Valve with Female Threads – This screws onto the male threads of Part #4 above.
- 3/4″ MGH x 3/4″ MIP Adapter – Just to be safe double check that part in person to make sure the threads line up as they should, but I’m pretty sure that’s the exact I bought. I’m not up on my master plumbing acronyms yet, so it’s hard to tell online. One side threads into Part #5 above. One side threads into your garden hose.
Here she is all together:
With that hurdle behind you, you’re home free:
- Level a spot near your downspout. You can obviously see where mine used to be.
- Build up a base to give you some clearance at the bottom and increase water pressure.
- Set your big ol’ thirsty baby up there.
- Connect your downspout extension (Part #1 above) with some screen covering the threaded cap’s opening.
- Plumb in an overflow outlet at the top for when the rain tote is full.
- I used a scrap piece of 2″ PVC I had laying around and cut it to fit using two 90 degree PVC elbows.
- I cut a 2″ hole (since I used 2″ pipe) in the side of the tote.
- I inserted the pipe and sealed the hole with silicone. Since there’s zero water pressure here you don’t need to anything too fancy.
My last little task is to attach a trellis or something pretty on the side of the tote facing our little lane. I’ll stain it to match the house trim and grow something flowery up it.
See Honey? I told you! Barely noticeable!!