Selecting and Installing a Rain Barrel

Selecting a Rain Barrel
Installing your Rain Barrel
Caring for your Rain Barrel
Maximizing Water Collection
Helpful Hints & Warnings 

Each UV protected 60 gallon Great American Rain Barrel is a repurposed shipping drum made from 3/16" UV protected food grade polyethylene. The barrel stands 39" tall and is 24" in diameter. It has a wide mouth, hard top, screw on lid, that is perforated to receive water in the barrel. Each barrel comes a plastic spigot threaded for hose attachment, two elbows for overflow and future linking and a mosquito skirt to prevent insects from breeding inside the barrel. Read below why The Great American Rain Barrel is the ideal rain barrel.

REPURPOSED VS RECYCLED: Choosing a repurposed barrel is the most environmentally friendly choice. 

Food Grade and UV protected; Both these attributes are important in minimizing algae growth in your barrel.

Removable, hard and durable lid top: The lid should be child resistant and kept on tightly at all times. But you will want the opportunity to get into the barrel on occasion to clean it out and remove any residue or should a spigot fail and need to be replaced.  

A lid is also an important attribute of a rain barrel. Lids that have large cutouts with screen surfaces can be compromised by falling debris or age and may provide an opening for mosquitoes to breed and other unwelcome debris that may taint your water supply.  

Plastic spigot. Brass does not marry well with plastic, it often corrodes and clogs and does not replace easily. Too much movement of a brass spigot will strip the plastic and ultimately leak. Choose plastic. While plastic spigots may not outlive your barrel they are easily replaced.   



1. Consider spigot location. Intuitively one might think the obvious place to put the spigot is at the bottom of the barrel. Think again, this may not be the most practical. Unless you raise the barrel significantly, you cannot place a watering can beneath it to fill if it is only a few inches off the ground. The lower spigot goes works well with a hose, however because barrels are gravity fed there will not be a lot of pressure. Lower placed spigots are ideal with a soaker hose, but once that is attached make sure you can still access your water supply to fill a watering can when needed. A barrel with a higher spigot allows you to use it with a watering can. When the water falls below the spigot level, tip the barrel towards you or remove the lid and dunk the watering can inside the barrel to access the water.  Overflow:  overflow should be between ¾”- 1 ½” wide opening. Note where the overflow is on the barrel, the larger the opening the lower the capacity of the barrel. 



2. Some overflows also have PVC tubing inside the barrel, this will reduce capacity and prevent you from being able to dunk a watering can inside the barrel. Considerations:



Are you using the water for a perennial garden, vegetable garden, greenhouse, lawn or to supply an exterior building with water, such as a chicken coop, top off your pool, bath your horses or to prevent storm water run-off into community water supplies?



2. Location of downspouts?



Which downspout, perhaps you want the one that accesses the greatest amount of roof surface, thereby filling the barrel fastest.  Is the downspout easily accessible, and what is its proximity to the area that needs the water? Is the ground surface area where the barrel will stand flat and stable



3. How much water do you want to collect?



Each barrel holds 60 gallons; link barrels together to store 120 gallons, 180 and much more.



4. What color?



The Great American Rain Barrel is offered in three environmentally compatible colors of Forest Green, Earth Brown (dark espresso brown)  and Nantucket Gray. 




Installing your Rain Barrel

1.  Select the downspout where you want to place the barrel.

2. Choose which port that you want to use for the spigot, either the lower port to use with a garden hose or the upper port 14" above ground to use with a watering can.

3. Attach the spigot to rain barrel. Place one of the washers on the end of the spigot and slide the spigot into the hole below the label. Reach into to barrel and place the second washer over the threaded end of the spigot. Thread the nut on the end of the spigot and hand tight. If you prefer to use the lower port, see Installation Tips below.

4.  Take the black L-shaped elbow (overflow fitting) and screw it into the pre-threaded hole on the top, right hand side, of the barrel.

5.  Level the ground where the barrel will sit. If needed use bricks or pressure treated 2x4s or 2x6s. (Caution: our barrel should be placed on a level surface or it may tip over upon filling, causing bodily harm or property damage. If your rain barrel is elevated, make certain that it is secure so that it cannot tip over.)

5.  Remove the elbow and run-off pipe from the end of the downspout. If you are using a Save the Rain Diverter™ follow directions on diverter. Draw a line on the downspout 9” above the top of the barrel. Move the barrel away. Use a hacksaw and cut the downspout at t he line. Note: if a downspout bracket is below your cut, remove the bracket and place it above the cut. Squeeze or crimp the downspout end, so that the elbow will fit over it.  

6.  Squeeze or crimp the downspout end so the elbow will fit over it. Attach the elbow to the downspout and move the barrel back against the house, so that the end of the elbow is over the center of the lid. Rain water will now flow out of the elbow and down onto the cover of your rain barrel and drain into the barrel. 


Diverter Installation

To install the diverter use either a hacksaw or metal scissors to cut a 9" section out of your downspout with the lower cut being 2" above the top of your barrel. Replace the section with the diverter. Use the tabs on each to hold the diverter in place. The downspout fits into the top end of the diverter and the bottom end of the diverter fits inside the lower section of the downspout. Use needle nose pliers to crimp the downspout to fit if necessary.

Installation Tips

Level Surface: Safety first! A flat, level surface for placement of your water barrel is key. A full rain water barrel can weigh in excess of 300 lbs. — you don't want the rain water barrel to tip.

Downspout: Once you position your rain barrel, you will need to remove a section of your gutter downspout to redirect water into your barrel.

Spigot Location: There is a choice of two ports to place the spigot. Placing the spigot in the lower port is ideal for using with a soaker hose or when the barrel is raised to increase pressure. The upper port is ideal to use with a watering can. Remember that the lid can always be removed to easily extract water by dunking your watering can into the barrel or  by tipping the barrel forward when water falls below the spigot line. 

Overflow Water: Make sure the overflow valve or pipe in your water barrel is positioned or pointed away from your home's foundation. Attach a 3/4" inner diameter flex tube or hose to direct water away from your foundation. For conditions that require additional overflow use the 2nd overflow port. 

Caring for your Rain Barrel 

To insure a long life for your barrel clean it out occasionally to eliminate clogs and other debris from building up inside your barrel. 

Fine mesh screen should be used to cover any openings in the rain barrel to prevent mosquitoes and to trap debris. Rain barrels can be installed upon blocks or wooden crate to provide height for gravity flow purposes. 

Winterizing your Rain Barrel

It is VERY important to winterize your barrel. Empty or drain your rain barrel, remove spigot, run-off hose, and drain plug before storing for the winter. When possible store your barrel in a protected/indoor area but if the rain barrel must remain outside either turn it upside down and secure it or weight it down by storing garden equipment inside the barrel and put a heavy plastic bag over the top to prevent water accumulation which can freeze, expand, and potentially crack the barrel wall or animal inhabitation.

back to top

Maximizing Water Collection

Link two or three barrels together 

To save even more water, you can link your first barrel to a second, also using a (shorter) piece of 3/4" hose. Simply unscrew the upper plug (on the second barrel) and replace it with a second elbow*. Attach one end of your hose to the overflow fitting (on barrel one) turning the fitting so that it is horizontal, and then attach it to the other end to the new elbow on the second barrel (which should also be turned horizontally). Attach your overflow hose to the second elbow (on barrel two) so that once that barrel has filled, you can direct excess water away from the foundation. We recommend keeping barrels close together for best results.

* Initially you will receive two elbows, the first elbow is used for overflow. The second is for future linking or fro additional overflow if needed. Please be sure to store that second elbow in a place where you will remember!

Place a barrel at each downspout. 

Attach a soaker hose and bury into your garden. Get creative with your rain barrels. Green barrels are popular because they so easily blend in with the landscape. You can place a barrel at each downspout for convenient as easy access to your gardens. Place your barrel on a stand a few feet off the ground. Be sure barrel is secure. Place spigot in drain hole at the bottom of the barrel and attach a soaker hose. Water the garden at the roots while you tend to other garden needs. 

back to top

Helpful Hints & Warnings

To prevent ground saturation near your foundation, we recommend attaching a minimum of 6’ of 3/4" hose to the overflow fitting and directing the water away from the foundation.

To save even more water, you can link your first barrel to a second and a third barrel. 

To prevent insects from seeping into the barrel, a Teflon window screen can be draped over the barrel before screwing on the lid. 

If odor or insects become a problem Clorox is an age old remedy, use approximately ¼ cup to harmlessly disinfect the water. 

In order to avoid clogging, empty your barrel at least once a year to remove leaves and other debris that may have accumulated inside. 


ICE IN BARREL can cause permanent damage and is not covered by the warranty. Please be sure to winterize your barrel.


The Great American Rain Barrel is intended for garden use only. DO NOT USE BARREL TO STORE DRINKING WATER.