DIY Rainwater Collection System

How to Make a Rainwater Collection System

Rainwater collection is a great way to reduce your water usage. Did you know the average person wastes about 30 gallons of water per day? Holy moly! Just imagine if you could save at least a third of your water usage. Well, you can! A rainwater collection system is a really great way to recycle water during those hot summer months when water conservation is at its most necessary!

How to Make a Rainwater Collection System?

However, exercise caution. Some states enforce strict rainwater harvesting regulations. In Colorado, for example, collecting rainwater is illegal, as it is public property and belongs to the Colorado water table. Those who collect this water are diminishing the supply for agriculture. See more about rainwater regulations here.

Rainwater collection has been practiced for centuries. The growing movement for DIY water conservation only confirms our need to recycle our natural resources and replenish our own depleting supply. This step-by-step tutorial will get you started on your DIY rainwater collection system:


  • Paint strainer
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • 55-gallon drum with lid
  • Downspout fittings
  • Gutter strainer
  • Cinder blocks (3)
  • 3/4″ spigot with 1/4″ turn-ball valve
  • Permanent black marker
  • Jigsaw
  • Power drill with 7/8″ spade bit
  • Half-round bastard file
  • Utility knife
  • 1 1'4″ galvanized wood screws

Step 1: With the 7/8″ spade bit, drill a starter hole in the side of the 5 gallon bucket. Use your jigsaw to cut around the bucket.

Step 2: Using your permanent marker, trace the top of the 5 gallon bucket on top of the 55 gallon drum.

Step 3: Just like you did with the top of the 5 gallon bucket, drill a hole in the top of the drum with your 7/8″ spade bit to get you started. Following the guideline you created with the permanent marker, cut out the circle with the jigsaw.
The top of the 5 gallon bucket should fit snug in the opening of the 55 gallon drum.

Step 4: Drill a hole at the bottom side of the drum with the 7/8″ spade bit. File down the inside of the hole with your half-round bastard file. Screw in your 3/4″ spigot until it fits securely. It may need to be filed a little more to fit just right.

Step 5: Prop the cinder blocks upright in a triangle manner next to the house. Place your drum on top of the cinder blocks.

Step 6: Using the existing downspout from your gutters, add an extension to run down into the rainwater collection. Measure and mark where you need to cut the fitting so that the end will run into the top of your collection barrel.
Cut the extension with a utility knife and fit to existing downspout.
Use brackets to secure the fittings to the side of the house.

Step 7: Trace the end of the downspout on the lid of the 5 gallon bucket. This will keep large objects from falling into the collection system.

Use the 7/8″ spade bit to drill starter holes.
Cut the remainder of your lid with the jigsaw.
Place the lid back on top of the bucket to check for a proper fit.

Step 8: Standing water can be a haven for mosquitoes, so we want to keep them out of the rain barrel.
Tie a knot in the paint strainer and secure to the top of the bucket.

Step 9: Place a gutter strainer in the opening of the gutter on the roof. This will keep large debris from making its way down the fittings and potentially clogging the gutters.
This rainwater collection system will be up and running in no time. Even your little ones will enjoy it!

Check out the step-by-step video tutorial:

Check out more DIY tutorials:

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 5, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

11 Responses to :
DIY Rainwater Collection System

  1. Quote: ” In Colorado, for example, collecting rainwater is illegal, as it is public property and belongs to the Colorado water table.”
    Colorado is joining California as an intrusive, meddlesome ‘must not live there’ state.
    Most uses of rainwater (i.e. gardens) put that rainwater back into the ground. They merely move that time from the rainy season, when it is not needed, to the dry season, when it is.

    1. alain smithee says:

      This sounds like a bureaucratic way of forcing you to pay the water utility and pad their profits.
      That’s OK – I’m sure that I can use PVC pipe to create a hidden storage system disguised as a leach field and solar powered pumps so that it looks like I’m using city water for my garden without subsidizing a local government and their nepotistic practices.

  2. mixplix says:

    Bed sheets and Thompson Water Seal will make very inexpensive water proof fabrics useful in catching water or protecting you from it.

  3. mixplix says:

    I’m trying to put together a video the way to heist a person that’s wounded or hurt with a rope. What knot is used? How is it applied? To lift someone up a number of feet?

    1. rob leech says:

      get a cheap piece of 12′ webbing and make a harness to lift the person

  4. Chet Smith says:

    This is what I have been looking for. Thank you for sending this out so some of us do-it yourself types could have a rainwater collection system for our garden.

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