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

As a company that specializes in converting used barrels into rain barrels, our customer service team often answers questions from folks who want to convert an existing rain barrel to a BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™.

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.

Whether this is your situation, or your simply messed up and drilled a hole you don't need, we've got some great solutions for you!

This article will teach you how to patch or plug holes in plastic barrels for a watertight seal. Whether you need a removable or a permanent solution, read on for expert advice!

Single Rain Barrel

How to repurpose this...

Jeffs BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System

...into a multi-barrel BlueBarrel System!

The BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System is a completely closed design, which keeps water very clean. Our unique, underplumbed linking solution allows the user to drain every last drop of water through the provided 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.

The Plug-and-Play Solution (Removable)

rain barrel plug

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

Now available in our Online Store, these rubberized twist 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). The larger 1-1/2″ version will plug the inlet hole in a BlueBarrel System. These are perfect for those who need to disconnect downspouts in winter. They can be easily removed when it's time to reconnect in Spring!

The Quick Patch Solution (Permanent)

Quick Patch Barrel Patch

Quick Patch is a newer product that provides a permanent stick-seal solution for holes in barrels, downspouts and more!

Quick Patch is a newer product that instantly repairs almost any hard surface. Simply peel it and seal it! Quick Patches adhere to all types of piping, glass, fiberglass, metals, wood, polyethylene, and more. Use this product for sealing unwanted holes in barrels or tanks, fixing ruptured PVC, patching gutters/downspouts and more!

Quick Patch is as pliable as a Band-Aid when you take it out of the package and as hard as fiberglass with just 10 minutes of exposure to UV. This product cures in the sun outdoors, or with a UV flashlight indoors. See our video gallery for a product demo.

Available in two sizes in our online store, the 2" x 3" Quick Patch Mini will permanently patch unwanted spigot holes in your barrels, and small ruptures in your PVC line. The larger 3" x 6" version will permanently patch your downspout if you mis-drilled the hole, or wish to move (or remove) your rain barrels. Quick Patches can be cut to size easily with regular household scissors.

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.

If you have leaks around your tap or spigot, you can tighten up the connection without plugging the hole and starting over. For this, we recommend our 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 to pair with them. Our high-flow valves will improve your output for gravity fed drip irrigation (or just faster bucket filling!) while you’re at it.

An Example From the Field

Twist Plug Patching a Hole in blue barrel

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

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 spigot holes drilled in the side. 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 two singles. I had a chance to test the twist-plugs and they worked great to plug holes in plastic barrels!

Furthering Our Sustainability Mission

Many BlueBarrel customers are attracted to our company not only for our unique rain barrel 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 upcycled food-grade barrels destined for the landfill. We make them available locally to our customers, thus reducing the costs and impacts associated with manufacturing, storage, and transportation.

The products highlighted in this article help us take our mission further by giving yet another life to barrels that may have already been repurposed. Now you can patch or plug any barrel holes to prep them for another use. Turn a single rain barrel back 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 these simple and inexpensive solutions.

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.