April 19, 2014

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Conditions at Parkersburg, Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport, WV
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Installing the Rain Barrel, Phase 2

Some details about how to install a rain barrel to catch water run-off and save money.

I normally wouldn't post so quickly, but I wanted to share how the installation of my new rain barrel went for those of you who are following my posts.

You may recall that I somewhat impulsively purchased a plastic rain barrel for my wife's birthday. It is supposed to hold 57 gallons of rainwater caught from our downspout  for watering of flower gardens, grass, etc.   It may be late in the season, but I figured do it now rather than later.

I discussed the location for this new addition, and we came to an agreement that the terraced flower garden that is held in-place by landscape block might be the best spot.  I had initially rejected such a thought because I couldn't figure out how to divert the downspout into a barrel, let alone avoid the over-flow problem.

To my great delight, the flowers that were growing where I wanted to place the barrel were only unwanted weeds, so I asily pulled them up.  The wide 2 foot ledge is fortified by sturdy blocks, so I am certain it will hold the weight of 55 gallons of water if necessary.

And, the location is within 30 inches of the downspout.  So all looked "go" for our installation.

I started with just a 45 minute window to complete the installation before I had to leave, and a rain shower was coming into our area within the hour, so I wanted to work fast.

I was delighted to discover the threaded fixtures worked perfectly.  I had no problem drilling a 1 inch hole in the top of the tank for the supply line.  The barrel lifted into place easily, and with minor fill dirt, it was level and sturdy.  This is CRITICAL for the shut off feature to work.

The hardest part of the install was my own fault, as I had to scale the landscape blocks to get up to the point where I would cut the downspout and insert the adaptor/diverter.  After one cut with a hacksaw, the downspout separated, and the slip-on diverter went on tightly, with little real difficulty. A good design fit.

If I been thinking ahead, I might have just drilled out the rivet that held my downspout in place and lowered the remaining shaft about 2 inches before reattaching.  But I had read the instructions to cut out a 2 inch section to slide the adapter in, and  I did  so quickly.  THEN I had to drill out the rivet to fit the adapter up onto the downspout and slide the bottom half back in.  I could have saved myself 5 minutes for that second cut and 2 inches of downspout.

As I said, the hardest part was scaling the landscape block wall to get up to the level to cut, and I must have done that four times, coming down to retrieve tools... a level, a hack saw, a drill, a screw to replace the rivet.

I completed the installation in under 40 minutes, and I am certain that is about a half an hour longer than necessary due to my configuration. I must say I was extremely pleased with the engineering of this simple system, and other than a trim to shorten the supply line, I can't see any further problem.

I'm even thinking of using the second adapter (one that is larger, for a barn or industrial downspout) to replace a different downspout on the other end of the house, and plumb my own plastic 55 gallon drum as a rain barrel.  By saving the excess feeder line, and finding a plastic threaded 1 inch fixture, I am convinced I can utilize the excess materials and get myself a second system for the far end of the garden.

If it sounds like I'm gushing, I am.  The installation was THAT easy and quick. And I'm so pleased with how it looks, fits, and now if the rains come, works...

The real question will be if we use it right, and if it helps to cut our water consumption costs next growing season.  I'll have to keep you posted on that one.  The expense of the barrel & fixtures was somewhat steep, in my estimation, but if we water the garden, flowers or lawn a lot, it might just pay for itself over the life of the barrel.  We'll see.

** Update from the next day:  We have about a foot of rainwater already collected in the barrel bottom when I got home that night!  Success!   And, yes, the feeder line does need to be trimmed a bit. It sags slightly with water in it.

**2nd Update the next day:  Checking the levels again the next day, I have found the barrel filled itself and stopped an inch below the rim. So all seem right and successful with the system!

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