Sorry for the long time no post. I have still been prepping, just been busy with other things in life and unable to post. I have finally (almost) finished my 550 gallon rain water collection system. Overall I am happy with it, the water pressure is good, and I am waiting for next year to really try it out for the garden.
In DIY Fashion, finish product first.
As I live on a 0.2 acre corner lot in a nice subdivision, I didn’t want to junk up my yard with the blue barrels. Instead I managed to get 2 X IBC Totes for free from my neighbor. I believe 550 gallons really isn’t enough and the best solution is a purpose built 1,000-5,000 gallon tank, but I don’t have enough land. The totes are nice enough, with a quick disconnect, and bung hole inside the larger black cap. Never could get the black cap to actually come off…. My neighbor got them from the printing company he works for. Evidently they were used to hold aluminum plate cleaner, so I won’t be drinking directly from these, unless there is no other option. He did assure me, he gets his hands covered in the stuff almost daily, and has so for years. Don’t want to drink the stuff straight, but there isn’t any major concern. So my intention is to flush a few times, and then use it for the garden, unless things ever get really bad.
So on to some pictures.
First thing I went looking for is a good way to connect to the gutter. After much internet searching I settled on this rubber insert.
This thing works GREAT! Most of the water falls along the side of a downspout, so this effectively catches most of the water in a slick, hidden, easy installation. In a really heavy storm, water can go right down the middle, so there really isn’t much fear of a water backup. I am installing gutter guard, so I don’t see how any larger debri will get down in and clog this up. Even if something did get in their, I should be able to remove the obstruction by simply removing the tube that goes into the plastic rubber piece and using a screwdriver to fish the obstruction out. In tests, this diverter is working great, now if it would just rain…..
I think Rain Brothers makes this. The kit definitely seems worth it, as you get the tools needed along with other useful pieces.
But you can buy the whole kit cheap from Home Depot and they will ship it to your local store.
I have installed one of these, and intend to install a second to capture the entire back half of my roof. I had a bit of a height challenge on my first gutter, so I had to jam it on the inside. In the end, it worked out real well and looks nice.
From there, I went about leveling a clear area to set the totes and making sure to lay down a good fine gravel layer and tamp, to prevent shifting. From this location, I will be able to put the tanks on a timer, and run a short hose to connect to my underground water pipes that feed a few separate drip lines in different garden areas on my property.
After this I went about figuring out all the fittings I needed, which, as always, resulted in about half a dozen trips to Lowes before I got it all figured out right. To start with I got some nice quick disconnects that fit the totes right from the Tractor Supply Store.
These just seemed to nice and convenient not to use. While at Tractor Supply I originally got some Vinyl pipe fittings, but latter got advice that they don’t hold as well. They were also bigger, and for the pipe coming out of the top of the bottom one, it needs to be a quick turn and out from underneath the top one, and there isn’t alot of room. So back to Lowes for regular PVC fittings.
I also wanted to include a “First Flush” system to carry away to majority of the bird poop. I won’t go over everything about a first flush, but just say that its a series of pipes/storage that diverts the first X gallons that come off the roof from getting into the water storage. If you google first flush you will find plenty of examples and below are two good Youtube links. The specifics of the pipe lengths etc will really depend on your exact setup. There are two main methods I have seen. The first is to use a 55 gallon barrel, the second is to use lengths of 4″ PVC. 4″ PVC is definitely the more expensive of the options, but I went that direction as I wanted to make this whole setup look as nice as possible and didn’t want barrels sitting around. It already took agreeing to a 900 dollar dog surgery to get my wife on board with the 2nd tote…. Kept telling her you need 2 to get pressure, but that didn’t matter.
55 Gallon Barrel First Flush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch-YsD9rOGk
4″ PVC First Flush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV_jwlvrgsE
Once I finally got all my fittings figured out I went ahead and dry fit everything.
The topmost piece in this picture will have a hole cut into it, and the pipe from the downspout diverter will just dump into it, and I will place an easy access screen mesh in the 4″ to 2″ reducer. At first I had thought about filling from the front port into both totes, and venting each top up. My Dad convinced me this wouldn’t work out well, and there would be too much resistance once the tanks are getting full. I believe he was right, and instead both tanks will be filled from the top of each tank, the outlets will be connected together, there is a common upper vent, and an overflow that goes over to where my sump pump dumps.
I did have issues with leakage at the quick disconnects on my original fitting/piping arrangement. After looking at it for a while, I believe the issue was that the angle of the spout coming out of each tank was slightly different, putting upward force on the top spout. I attemtped to fix this by angling the pipes to match. I am waiting for rain to see if this fix works.
I did go ahead and put some green plastic mesh on the bottom of the bottom tote to keep out skunks, etc…
After this, it was time to paint. You must do something to cover the tote or else you will get massive algae blooms from all the sunlight. The easier and cheaper way to do this is to remove the tote from the metal container and wrap it in thick plastic. This definitely works, but for me I wanted this to look as nice as possible and match the house trim. So I painted the PVC to match the trim and the totes (metal and all) to match my green shutters. I just used a good outdoor Sherwin Williams acrylic, spending more money than I probably should have.
A word of warning, if you remove the totes to paint you can expect that you will scratch off paint when you put it back in the metal cage. I anticipated this, and planned on first removing the tote, painting it first, putting it back in the cage, and then just painting the whole cage/tote together. I did make one mistake, in that if you paint a big bubble a near black color, and leave it in the sun to dry, it will expand. It was really hard pushing the bubble back in the cage and I ended up scraping off more paint than planned. I let the second one cool down first and it went in much easier. In the end, it just wasted a bit of paint, as I went back over the whole thing anyways. I used a Wagner Paint Spray. Works real nice on something like this, eliminating streaks and giving a good texture to the paint job. Uses/wastes a lot of paint though… In the end, it looks real nice. Will probably get scratched and need touched up from time to time, but its worth it to have it look nice.
The paint was doing fine for weeks, then we got a good long rain…. For whatever reason, the rain got under the paint in places and made it bubble out!!!. I guess I didn’t sand well enough the plastic totes well enough? The paint held fine on the PVC and the metal. Thankfully the bubbles seem to eventually loose the water, then the paint reformed to the plastic with a bunch of creases… Its now been a couple months and it doesn’t seem the paint is coming off. I wonder how it will fair in freezing rain? At this point I am going to leave it, until the pain starts coming off and it looks bad. Looks fine now. If that happens I will remove the paint with a power washer, and use primer and spray paint designed for plastic. Also note, if I do repaint them, I am going to leave a 1/4″ unpainted vertical strip so I can easily tell how much water is in the totes. That’s a bit hard with the dark paint completely covering the plastic.
So at first I only had 1 gutter plumbed into the tote. It seem to be filling kinda slow, so I got the second gutter plumbed in. Then i realized I had the angle of my pipes wrong, and most of the water must have been rushing past the inlet straight to the overflow. Now they seem to fill really fast! I have had a couple issues with leaking. The upper totes quick connect sealing area had a little nick, probably from a fork lift. I tried lightly sanding/filling the nick, but it just kept leaking. In the end I ordered a new Cylinder Valve. When I received it, i realized not all totes are the same and you need to make sure to order the valve specific to your tote manufacture…. Unfortunately trying to find the specific Mauser valve for my totes proved to be painful as almost nobody has them and I ended up spending more than I would have liked to. Even then, I get a call from the company saying they cannot find the cylinder valve, but do have a ball valve that will fit… Fine, and I am still waiting for it to show.
The other leak I have is a very slow leak out of the 2″ fitting in the top of the bottom tote. Somehow I am not surprised. I understand 2″ threaded PVC fittings are notorious leakers. To fix the problem I decided to just take some good 2 part epoxy and fill in all around the fitting. It will never come out again, but that is fine for me. Still waiting for the valve to show, then for it to rain, and then hopefully I will have no more leaks.
So I wanted to add a screen into my 4″ collection pipe. I looked and looked for a while. Thought about using sink screens, but finally found that they make nice 2″ PVC floor drain type pieces. So I took one of those and some fine mesh and made a nice screen. Now water dumps out of the 2X 1-1/4″ pipes from the gutters, right onto this screen, then into the first flush, then into the totes. The 4″ collection pipe isn’t glued in, so it can be easily removed. It just sites there, held in place by the 2 incoming pipes, and the pipe out the bottom. Doesn’t even leak.
The last things I want to do is drill a couple small holes in the plastic lid on the 4″ piece, so air can flow and water doesn’t sit there. I noticed during 1 really heavy rain that water started spurting out the holes in the 4″ piece, that the 1 1/4″ inlet pipes go through. I need to cut notches in the bottom ends of those inlet pipes so water doesn’t follow the pipe back up. I also think I will finds some rubber type material, and cover the inlet holes with it. Then cut out a hole for the inlet pipes. Hopefully passing the piper through the rubber will act as a seal and keep water in, at least until it overflows the top. If need be, I might extend the 4″ pipe 6″ or so, so there is more pressure pushing the water through the system during heavy rains, and hopefully it doesn’t overflow.