Lucky for you, I am about to share with you everything you need to know about collecting rainwater. From the why to the how from the where to the what.
Collecting Rainwater – The Why?
- Help the environment by reducing the amount of water that must be taken from the earth and processed in a facility.
- You could reduce your water bills.
- Rainwater is good for your garden.
- If filtered properly, you can use it as drinking water. This would mean fewer chemicals in your water.
- Rainwater does not need a water softener system.
Collecting Rainwater – The How?
There are many different methods for building a rainwater collection system. I am going to share a few tutorials with you using the barrel system that is attached to the gutter of your house. A few questions you may want to ask yourself before you begin are:
- How much money do I want to spend?
- Do I want my system to be as aesthetically pleasing as it is practical?
- How much rainwater do I want to collect?
- Where am I going to put my system?
Many people who are planning on building their own rainwater collection system will use a trash can. Here is a great tutorial on how to do this using a Rubbermaid trash can. This method costs less than $40!
Used Food Barrels
You can typically get large plastic barrels from companies that used to store food in them. Since the companies only use the barrel once, it is yours for the taking. If you do this, I would make sure that the barrel you receive was not previously used to transport oil or toxic chemicals like pesticides. Craigslist is a good place to look for something like this. Depending on where you live you can find them used for around $15-$20 each. Here is a great tutorial on how to make a rainwater collection system with one of these barrels for a very affordable price!
New Food Barrels
You can also purchase brand new barrels that are food-grade quality. Large stores sell ones for $150 which comes with a water purification system. You can also purchase a brand new drum from other stores for about $60 without a water filtration system.
Old Wine Barrel
If you are looking for something that looks a bit more appealing, then an old wine barrel might be the best option for you. It is not the most affordable option as wine barrels can be a bit expensive. The going price on a used wine barrel is about $150. You can get them used on eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. Here is a tutorial on how to make a rainwater collection system using a wine barrel.
Multiple Barrel System
If you are wanting to collect large amounts of water, you may want to look into installing a multiple barrel system. Here is a tutorial on how to set up this type of system.
275 Gallon Drum
Another option for collecting larger amounts of rainwater is to build your system using a 275-gallon drum. Check out this tutorial. You can find these 275-gallon water tanks on Craigslist from anywhere between $70 and $110 each.
Keeping Rainwater Safe
There are potential chances of bacteria entering into your rainwater collection system. This typically happens through animal droppings from the roof. One of the best ways to avoid this bacteria entering into your water is to invest in a First Flush Diverter. They are relatively affordable and easy to install. Basically, it collects the first water that comes off the roof when it rains which has the highest amount of pathogenic bacteria in it.
Dust and Ash
To prevent dust and ash from building up in your rainwater, you should be doing regular maintenance on your roof and gutters. Also, the First Flush Diverter (mentioned above) is designed to help with this.
The best way to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in your tank is to make sure the tank inlet is screened and that there are no gaps. You could also try planting some insect-repelling plants near your system. Marigolds, citronella, lemon balm, basil, lavender, and catnip are all mosquito-repelling plants.
Making sure that your gutters have a gutter screen and the inlet of the collection tank is screened should prevent large debris from entering your water.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Once a year you should empty and clean your rain barrel. You can clean it out using a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar. You should seasonally check your system for holes and leaks.
Collecting Rainwater – Where?
Every state has different laws when it comes to collecting and harvesting rainwater. Some states try to encourage rainwater collection while other states discourage it. I suggest you do research on the laws in your state before taking on this project. Here is a list of laws and legislation – according to each applicable state – concerning rainwater collection.
Important Things to Remember
- Thoroughly clean all of the materials before installing your collection system, especially if you are starting with a used barrel.
- Do not use any clear plastic containers or pipes for collecting rainwater. This could eventually cause an algae build-up in your barrel.
- Make sure your barrel is secure. You don’t want it flying away in a heavy storm or falling on top of little children running around.
- Always filter your rainwater before ingesting it.
- Make sure your gutters have a gutter shield to keep large debris out of your rainwater barrel.
- Make sure that the rainwater overflow does not pool towards the house.