DIY Files: Creative Twists on the BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System

Thanks to BlueBarrel customer Erik – of Moreno Valley, California – for sharing photos of his BlueBarrel System™ installation, including some very creative embellishments. Read on and get inspired by our DIY highlight of the season!

 

White Rain Barrels

The least I could do in exchange for the great service I got from BlueBarrel was to document the construction of my systems. Hopefully, my “innovations of necessity” give you ideas for what is possible for your own. – Erik

In southern California’s dry climate, we need lots of water storage to get us through a long dry season. Erik installed 27 barrels for nearly 1,500 gallons of capacity, to keep his suburban lot green.

He installed nine barrels in the front yard, two in the back, and he managed to fit 16 along his narrow side yard corridor – an ideal place to hide a long string of barrels.

Before he began, Erik painted 11 barrels for the front- and back-yard installations. He didn’t bother painting the remaining 16 barrels for the hidden side-yard system.

Under themed headings, we’ve highlighted some of Erik’s creative customizations:

 

Double Duty Downspout Diverters

With nine barrels in the front yard, Erik spanned enough space that he could easily collect from two existing downspouts. He ordered an extra downspout diverter for his 9-Barrel RainKit™ to accomplish this.

Look closely to notice one of his downspout diverter hoses is installed level, and the other descends from a higher point on the downspout down to the barrel.

This downspout diverter is installed with a level inlet hose (as intended by design).

This diverter is installed with a descending inlet hose to force system overflow through the other diverter.

 

This is a subtle detail, but one worth noting for those who are connecting to multiple downspouts: Our standard downspout diverters are designed to be installed so that the inlet hose is level. This allows water to get into the barrels when they have capacity. But when barrels are full, water will back up the inlet hose and escape down the downspout as it normally would. Erik wants to send all of his overflow through the front-most downspout, so by installing the second diverter higher, he forces his overflow to the downspout of his choice. Pretty clever, Erik!

 

Custom Curves and Spacing

Look more closely at the 9-barrel system to notice Erik used custom spacing to work around small obstacles (an existing irrigation manifold and standpipe). He also rounded a corner to mimic the curve of his home.

Per the BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System design, barrels are spaced at 24” on center for the tightest spacing possible, but one of the biggest benefits of our design is the ability to customize to work around such obstacles, and it’s a customization that many of our customers make. We do offer a flexible link in our accessories menu to make it easy to round corners with any BlueBarrel System.

 

Leaf Eaters

Notice Erik used leaf eaters (also available in our online store) on every downspout to keep leaves and debris out of his BlueBarrel Systems.

Leaf eaters (also known as debris excluders) are simple screen filters that are recommended over first flush diverters in most cases. They are effective in keeping debris out of a rain barrel system without obstructing the flow of water or nutrients into the barrels, and they are very easy to service.

The top screen is easy to remove, shake off and rinse, and snap back into place.  If installed at eye-level (as Erik has done), this can be done without a ladder.

 

Double-Stacked Downspout Diverters

In the back yard, Erik had less space for barrels, but he managed to fit two right next to a corner downspout.

Here again you’ll see Erik doubled up on diverters, but this time in a different way.

As discussed above, our downspout diverters send overflow down the downspout as normal when barrels are full.

The rubberized diverter head that inserts into the downspout seals off the interior to divert water into the barrels, but it has an internal spillover so that excess water falls down the normal course of the downspout when the system is overwhelmed. Likewise, if the flow of water down the downspout exceeds the capacity of the inlet hose, small amounts of water will discharge down the downspout as the barrels fill.

Erik installed a second diverter below the first to capture as much of this overflow as possible into his two-barrel system.

 

Spanning the Distance

Erik really made use of the space in his narrow side yard. With each barrel occupying only a 2’ x 2’ footprint, even an extremely narrow side yard can accommodate a long line of barrels while leaving a passable circulation corridor. Notorious for becoming “junk storage” space, narrow side-yard corridors are ideally suited for rain barrels. Notice again Erik used custom spacing to install barrels on either side of a window-seat bumpout. As all barrels in a BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System are plumbed along the bottom, all 16 barrels will still fill and empty at the same rate.

While Erik had one downspout descending within range of this side-yard system, he wanted to grab water from an un-tapped downspout farther away to service these 16 barrels with as much water as possible. This is easy to do with BlueBarrel’s extension hose, which we sell by the foot in our online store. Many people have a great place for barrels that doesn’t happen to be near a downspout. As Erik demonstrates, this does not need to be a limiting factor.

 

Fun with Funnels and Filters

Many of our customers ask us how to get water from other sources into their BlueBarrel Systems. This is easy to do because the vent pieces in our DIY RainKits are fitted with a screened hose-swivel, and the user can simply connect a garden hose to fill barrels when there is no rain.

Many drought-conscious California residents keep a bucket in their shower to capture “warm-up” water… or that water that normally flows down the drain when one waits for the shower to heat up. This water can be added to rain barrels using a funnel through one of the vent pieces.

Leave it to Erik to come up with an improvement on the funnel idea. Noticing that a standard two-liter soda bottle is threaded just like a garden hose, Erik cut the bottom off of a Coke bottle and painted it to match, for a very attractive funnel that screws securely into the vent on any of his barrels. A standard stainless steel coffee filter fits perfectly as a fine-mesh filter for water that he pours into his rain barrels from various sources.

 

Well done, Erik, and thanks for sharing your inspiration for our DIY-Files series.

 

Stay tuned for our next customer highlight.