Monday, September 17, 2007

Installing a Loopy Rain Barrel

The city of Chicago offered a rain barrel initiative this year so people could purchase these at a discount. The city benefits because, during a period of heavy rains like we had in August, less water goes into the storm sewers, reducing the chance of basements flooding. Personally, I just like the idea of using natural water for our garden plants rather than treated chlorinated water.

Jen is cool with almost any idea that helps keep her plants green. Normally, a rain barrel is installed directly beneath a downspout. The problem is, none of our downspouts are near our backyard plants. When I mentioned this idea to my friend Mark, he said he had just watched a TOH episode where they not only installed a rain barrel, but did so with a neat backflow diverter kit. Once the barrel is full of water, this sends the excess water back down to the gutter. That sounded perfect for our situation, so I picked one up when Jen and I checked out a green building supply house in Chicago.

So last weekend, with the supplies in hand, Mark and I set to modifying our gutter system to install this two-part system. Our setup was a bit more challenging as the gutters were much larger than what the diverter was designed for, but we finally decided to create a loop branch off one of the main downspouts.

As shown here, most water continues uninterrupted through the downspout, but some water is caught by a flap and brought IN to the rain barrel loop. Once the barrel is full, the water level will feedback and rise to the diverter, and excess water will flow through the OUT branch of the loop.

Since this downspout was about 12 feet from the rain barrel's desired location in our backyard, we couldn't install the supplied hose that came with the kit, and had to adapt a longer garden hose shown in the photos above. I think I may need a can of spray paint to make the white diverter brown, but other than that, the system is complete.

After a quick hose test, the barrel started to collect some water, so all we need is a nice downpour to see how quickly the barrel fills up!


Mike Ramirez said...

awesome... i might have to think about doing that at my house too.

JimV said...

I'm definitely going to look into this! Our shop building is right next to the garden, and with 1400 sq ft (horizontal plane measurement) of roof, we'll have a decent capture area. (Too bad most of the rain comes during the winter in Sacramento. Maybe I need a *really* big tank...)

jay said...

If your roof is collecting more water than a single barrel can handle, I've heard it's possible to "link" barrels so water flows from one overflow valve into the other.

Rosemarie said...

I like the fancy contraption for the rain barrel. We just put ours in this summer for the 1st time. It doesn't look as neat, but it does the job. I think we'll be up to 2 RBs for next summer. (

barry said...

Take a look at the downspout diverters and downspout filters at they offer DIY rain barrel kits too

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