DIY Files: Custom Downspout Diverters for Rain Barrels

Custom Downspout Diverter"I built a trellis to carry the water from the roof to my BlueBarrel System location. The instructions with the RainKit were well written and easy to follow. I made one adjustment that I thought I would share: using a 2" ABS drain pipe (pictured) to the barrels. A 2-1/4" kitchen strainer fits perfectly between two MIP and FIP couplings."

- Robert | San Luis Obispo, CA

Leave it to our customers to come up with creative twists on the standard BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System design. One of the benefits of our multi-barrel design is that it's all figured out from top to bottom, but also easy to customize to fit the particulars of any site. Thanks to Robert in San Luis Obispo, CA for sharing his solution for a custom downspout diverter.

Before we dive in, let us note that our DIY RainKits (with all the parts for building your own BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System) come with a choice between three sizes for an easy-install downspout diverter that balances inflow and overflow automatically. In most cases, we recommend simply using the diverter provided.

However in Robert's case, he built an awning to collect rainwater and carry it to his barrels, which inspired him to create a custom downspout diverter solution for his inlet.

Robert writes:

"The instructions with the RainKit were well written and easy to follow. I made one adjustment that I thought I would share using a 2" ABS drain pipe to the barrels. A 2-1/4" kitchen strainer fits perfectly between two MIP and FIP couplings" (pictured below).

He is also familiar with the particulars of his climate zone. With California's Mediterranean climate, Robert knows roughly when the rain will fall. During the dry season, he can remove his inlet pipe completely, replacing it when the rainy season returns:

"Our rain cycle here on the central coast of California is easy to predict so I cut the ABS pipe short enough that it's easy to lift out during the spring and summer months."

Important Considerations for System Overflow

Please note, that if crafting your own inlet, a separate overflow of at least the same size will be required. This is why our first recommendation is to stick with our standard diverter that handles overflow automatically.

Whether your tanks are large or small, for proper ventilation and overflow handling, you need to have an overflow equal to or greater in size than the sum of all inlet ports. To make that simple, this 2" inlet requires a 2" overflow port on the same vessel.

The larger your inlet, the more the overflow port takes out of your storage capacity. Multiply that loss for a multi-barrel system. In addition to uncontrolled overflow, this is another reason we do not recommend full diversion for smaller systems.

You will need to consider where to direct that overflow. While a prefab diverter handles overflow automatically by design, a custom-crafted full-diversion will need to be paired with a carefully-designed overflow management system.

Consider that overflow rates will be irregular and sometimes very high. Direct overflow to an infiltration basin at least 15' from any structures, or to another place where it can safely infiltrate.

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