Hole-y Barrels! Plug Holes in Plastic Barrels to Re-Use Them Yet Again

Hello everyone! Beth here from BlueBarrel’s customer service team
It’s not uncommon for people to ask us if they can connect an existing rain barrel to a BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System; or convert an old barrel to use it in their planned BlueBarrel System. 

The Problem:

The trouble is, a typical rain barrel has at least one hole drilled into the side for a spigot. Often there is a second (and even third!) hole used as a drain and/or overflow port. This article will teach you how to plug holes in plastic barrels, for a watertight seal.

The Solution:

tapered twist plug

We carry twist plugs in our online store to seal holes that have been drilled in barrels.

The BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System is a completely closed design, which keeps water very clean, and our under-plumbed linking solution allows the user to drain every last drop of water through the provided spigot and drain valve.

But if barrels need to be all closed up, what can you do with hole-y barrels? The good news is, we’ve discovered a great plug solution, for a water-tight seal on pre-existing holes. 

Now available in our Online Store, these rubberized twist-type plugs insert into holes around 1″ to 1-1/2″ in size. The plugs are tapered to work with holes of varying sizes. Insert until it feels tight, then twist the knob to expand the rubberized plug head for a water-tight seal. It’s brilliant!

The 1″ version will work in many spigot holes. We also carry a 1-1/4″ version for larger spigot holes (such as those drilled for the EarthMinded rain barrel kits); and a 1-1/2″ version, which will plug the inlet hole in a BlueBarrel System. These are perfect for those who need to disconnect downspouts in winter… or simply as a goof plug if you wish to move your inlet. 

Threaded Insert Tap Seals:

Threaded Insert Tap Seal

Also available in our online store, threaded insert tap seals provide a watertight seal for your spigot or drain.

As a side-note, if you have leaks around your tap or spigot and just need to tighten up the connection (without completely plugging the hole and starting over), we recommend the threaded insert tap seal. Unlike bulkhead fittings, which are two-part fittings that require you to get inside the barrel to screw them in, threaded insert tap seals easily insert from the outside. Similar to the tapered twist plugs, these fittings have a tapered shape that help them seal. They create a watertight port for any standard 3/4″ tap, spigot or drain valve. When the valve screws in, it tightens the tap seal beautifully against the barrel wall. 

See our Online Store for these parts, as well as high-flow spigot and drain valves that will improve your output for gravity fed drip irrigation (or just faster bucket filling!) while you’re at it. 


An Example from the Field: 

As a case in point, I had a conundrum while setting up a BlueBarrel System for a friend. She already had two 55-gallon blue barrels that were configured as single rain barrels. While they were the right kind of barrel, they already had a spigot hole drilled in the side near the bottom. They also had an overflow hole drilled on the sidewall toward the top. After learning about BlueBarrel’s unique system design, my friend decided she would much rather have a 2-Barrel BlueBarrel System than her two singles. I had a chance to test the twist-plugs and they worked great to plug holes in plastic barrels! 
Plug holes in plastic barrels with a rubberized twist-type plug.

Simply insert the plug and twist to expand – a water-tight solution for hole-y barrels!

Many BlueBarrel customers are attracted to our company not only for our unique system, but also because we stand by our environmental values of creating a lighter footprint. If you’ve read about BlueBarrel’s history, you’ll know it all started with a desire to create a rainwater harvesting system that uses food-grade barrels destined for the landfill and make them available locally to our customers, thus reducing the costs and impacts associated with manufacturing, storage, and transportation.

To take our mission further, we’re excited to announce that we now carry these twist-plugs in our online store. Now you can seal any holes in the walls of your barrel. Turn a single rain barrel with a hole drilled for the spigot or overflow into a sealed barrel suitable for reuse in the BlueBarrel System!
Furthering your ability to recycle, reduce, and re-use, re-use, re-use, we are proud to offer this simple and inexpensive solution.
As always, we love to hear your stories from the field, so please keep them coming!
Article contributed by Beth Auerbach, BlueBarrel staff writer, MS ecological design.