How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Rainwater Collection – Hooking Up To The Roof

So last week I had a couple posts about rainwater collection. If you haven’t read them, the first one covered basic concepts of rainwater collection, while the second one covered how to plumb rainwater storage barrels together.

Today I’ll cover how to get the water from your roof to the storage barrels.

If you recall we set up our barrels on a platform at the end of our shed. This makes it relatively easy to get water to the barrels.

Rudy’s Note:  Make sure you use PVC that’s rated for potable water usage.  Look for markings on the pipe.  You want ‘NSF-PW’ or ‘NSF-61’ rated pipes.

For this you’ll need 3″ PVC pipe, a couple of ‘L’ elbows, and an adapter to couple the downspout from your gutters to the PVC pipe. Most hardware stores have a pretty neat one that is flexible which makes our life a bit easier. It looks like this.

Attach the adapter to the downspout right up by the gutter. Leave it there for now.

Now take a 6″ length of the 3″ PVC pipe and glue it to one of the 45 degree elbows. While it dries, open up one of the two fill holes on the top of the barrel. Insert the 6″ length of PVC into the hole.

It should fit fine, but you may have to widen the hole a bit with a file or rasp or something.

This next part is a little harder to describe, and the lengths involved are going to vary from setup to setup. But what you’re looking to do is build an ‘L’ shaped pipe assembly using the 3″ PVC.

You’ll want the vertical run to be along the wall of the shed. You may have to put in some blocking to get the right set-off from the wall.

Connect this all together, but leave it dry, don’t glue it. You may need to change it later.

Now you should be good to go!

A Couple Additions To Consider

The first thing you should consider, and in my mind isn’t really optional, is a filter. You want this to keep debris and bugs out of your water.

You can pick them up pre-made at the hardware store, or you can make your own with some hardware cloth and window screens.

The second thing to think about is using the OTHER side of your roof as well. Hooking up the other gutter isn’t all that hard. Put another downspout adapter on the other side, and use an ‘L’ elbow to put a horizontal run that connects into the main water feed. Obviously you’ll need a ‘T’ joint in there at the connection point.

Have fun!

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5 Responses to Rainwater Collection – Hooking Up To The Roof

  1. Good idea! The filtering matter is the weak point…(i had just this sort of set up once). The filer screen needs to be REGULARLY cleaned and in a position that makes that simple…OR…there needs to be a simple way to reach the screen, (if you set it up on the Roof top end, then you’ll need a ladder or staircase, or some such manner for reaching the screen, at LEAST 3 times a week…ESPECIALLY in FALL. If you leave the screens too long, the deteriorating junk CAN begin to poison the water. Also, consider a second screen, ABOVE the spout screen, to catch bird poop…and remember to be SURE to ck the screens BEFORE it rains, or again, the screen can’t filter out certain products, germs, or toxins, that the rain water will wash through the screen. THANKS for another good suggestion Rudy!

  2. I know PVC pipe is relatively inexpensive and convenient, but please use something else. PVC is toxic. Even though this is not drinking water, it will, at some point, be going back into the water table along with any chemical that has been leached from the piping. This, it seems to me, would be even worse if you live along the Canadian Border or anywhere else where there is acid rain, as the the acidity of the water would probably increase the amount of toxins released from the pipes. I know that PVC pipe is so common today, but it seems to me that if it is not an emergency set up, why use it at all. Every little bit helps:)

    I hope this is not taken as an offense, but a constructive criticism. I love your posts and read them whenever I can. Your common sense attitude provides a nice balance to some of the more radical blogs out there!!! Thank you for all the time you spend on this:)

    • I probably should have noted that you should use NSF rated PVC … good catch, I’ve updated the article.

      Long and short of it is that if you have PVC that’s rated NSF-PW or NSF-61, you’re ok. The other stuff, bad plan!

      Aside from that, you’d want to run any of this water through a water filter like a Berkey or something before using it for anything personal, which would take care of any chemicals in the water.

  3. Not sure if my other posts came through, but in a nutshell: You can build a “pre filter” by extending your PVC pipe straight down behind your barrels, inserting a T at a level above your barrel and then running your pipe from the T into your barrel as previously described. A screw in plug at the end of the extension will allow you to empty the captured debris and water out. My plan is to have a 45 and a couple feet of pipe (or vise versa) so I don’t have to reach behind my “barrel” (I’m using a large container). The water and debris that comes out will be captured in a bucket, so I will allow enough height to set my bucket under it. If you plan to drink your water, you will still need to boil or chemically clean it up, but his extension will catch the first water that often carries bird dropping and pine needs/leaves and bugs. I don’t need those things in my barrel and I don’t want to have to clean out a screen.

    Just an idea.