How to Build a Rainwater Collection System

- originated by: Flickety, Krystle, Sondra C, Nicole Willson

Storing your rainwater can significantly help your water bills and is very eco-friendly.Recycle your rainwater and keep your landscaping looking healthy, the eco-friendly way. Building a rainwater collection system is fast, easy and can save you money on your water bill, as well as significantly reduce your total water usage.

Storing your rainwater can significantly help your water bills and is very eco-friendly.


Cut a bucket to create the top of your rainwater tank.

  • The top of your rainwater collection system is made by cutting the top off a five gallon / 10 liter bucket. An important thing to keep in mind when putting together your rain collection system is that standing water can be a haven for mosquitoes. The top will be used to secure a paint strainer to the top of the bucket, thereby keeping large objects and mosquitoes from getting into the barrel and spoiling your water supply.
  • With your 7/8”/ 2.2cm spade bit already attached to your power drill, put a hole in the side of the five gallon bucket to get your jigsaw rolling and cutting easily

Use your permanent marker and the top of the five gallon bucket and trace around the top of the 55 gallon / 210 liter drum.

  • Just like you cut the starter hole on the five gallon bucket, use your drill with the 7/8” / 2.2cm spade bit and put a hole in the top of the 55 gallon / 210 liter drum. 
  • Follow the guideline around the top of the barrel.
  • The top of the five gallon bucket should fit snug in the opening of the 55 gallon / 210 liter drum.

Spout it out. No one likes a leaky spout – especially when the whole point of your rainwater collection system is to reduce the amount of wasted water.

  • A sure way to get your spout to fit nice and tight into the bottom of your 55 gallon / 210 liter drum is to drill a hole using your 7/8” spade bit.
  • Take your half-round file and file down the inside of the hole until you have a nice fit.
  • Screw the ” / 2cm spigot in securely.
  • When you have a good fit, set your drum up on cinder blocks.

Add a gutter extension.

  • Using the existing downspout from your gutters, add an extension to run down into the collection barrel. Any hardware store will carry a variety of extension and fittings for this. Make sure to save the receipt so you can return any of the unused fittings. That way the hardware store can take the financial hit for your lack of accuracy.

Measure and mark where you need to cut the fitting so that the end will run into the top of your rainwater collection barrel.

  • Most fittings are made of flexible plastic and can be cut with a utility knife
  • It may be necessary to use a “splice” to fit the end of your existing downspout into the extension. Push these two pieces together until they are nice and snug.
  • Use brackets to secure the fitting to side of your house.

Ensure a proper fit. Before retiring your jigsaw for the day, you need to cut a hole in the lid of your 5 gallon / 10 liter bucket, as this will keep large objects from falling into the collection barrel.

  • Measure around the opening of your drain.
  • Use the 7/8th inch / 2.2cm spade bit to drill a starter hole.
  • Cut the remainder of the lid with your jigsaw.
  • Place the lid on the top of the bucket to check for proper fit.

Strain the drain. To prevent the collected organic matter from hanging too far down into the rain barrel, tie a knot in the strainer before installing it into the lid.


Place a gutter strain in the gutter on your roof. This will keep large debris from working its way down the fittings and potentially clogging the gutters. You will have to get up near the rooftop to clean this type of strainer.


Enjoy using your rainwater collection system. Not only does it save water and your pocketbook, it's so much fun! You may never need to recruit help around the yard again

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