10/21/2016

How to build a Rain Catchment Systems

DIY 275 Gallon Rainwater Collection
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I recently helped my father install a 275 gallon rainwater collection system.

The system is based on an industrial 275 gallon container, known as an IBC. You can buy them used, or if you really look around, you can even find them for free. One problem with typical rain-barrels is that they can only collect 55 gallons. This rain storage container collects FIVE times that volume, while not taking up all that much more space than a single rain-barrel.

In my area, you can buy used IBCs through Craigslist for about $85 each. Those come with a metal cage around them that allows them to be stacked.

Instead of buying them, I found a local bottler who throws them out, because they are plastic containers WITHOUT the metal cages. These containers come to the bottler full of 275 gallons of high-fructose corn syrup. I got several containers from them for free, for just the elbow grease of going to pick them up. Some were wrapped in heavy cardboard. I recycled the cardboard into a clubhouse for my little girl.

After washing the container out well, it is ready to be repurposed for rainwater collection. I really like the irony of using GMO corn syrup containers to recycle into a conservation project!

Besides the water container, this project requires other materials, including:
  • Misc wood to build a simple pallet or platform
  • Garden hose spigot and hardware
  • Gutter screen and fiberglass bug screen
  • Gutters, downspouts, and elbows
  • Silicon or other appropriate caulk or sealant
In our case, nearly all the materials were already on-hand, reusing old components, and recycling and repurposing materials. Total out of pocket expenses were under $20.

Beyond the typical DIY and handyman tools, you will need:
Tin snips, utility knife, pop-rivetter and rivets, sheet metal screws, and related aluminum metal-working tools and skills.

Lets get started.

EDIT: July 2013, we updated this to TRIPLE the capacity, raised the containers, and made them look really nice. See the update at: http://ecoprojecteer.net/2013/07/rainwater-collection-gets-bigger-part-2/

Step 1: Locating the Storage Tank

Locating the Storage Tank
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The first thing you need to do is decide where you want the container to go.

It needs to be located near the building you want to collect rainwater from, and it also needed to be elevated if you want it to work on gravity flow.

In this case, the building is a 100 year-old barn that was remodeled into a home office. The roof is a fair amount of collection area, and the building is on the top of a hillside - it's basically the highest point on the property. Because of that, the container was NOT put on any kind of a stand.

There was a small rock garden right outside the barn that was slightly elevated. We leveled off a 4'x4' area there for the tank.

That corner of the barn is also right where the downspout from one side of the roof is. That will make it a short distance to route the downspout to the tank.

Next, we built a pallet out of scrap pressure-treated wood for the container to go on. This gives the container a solid base and gets it up just a little higher, making it easier to access the garden hose spigot we will add.

The front of the pallet has a notch around the drain port, which will make it easier to access the garden hose spigot later.




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