Millions of dollars are literally falling out of the sky everyday. Where? How? Everyday there are literally thousands of gallons of rainwater that fall straight form the sky above. Obviously it doesn’t all fall in one place but it does fall. And while the average homeowner is not usually thinking about the water so much as they are concerned with keeping their home dry, there is a real opportunity to save money by simply collecting and using rainwater.
Gardening is a great hobby and it is also a great way to provide food for your family while saving hundreds of dollars in grocery costs. Yet gardening can also be a very time consuming and labor intensive project. Off all the many issues that the gardener might face, providing enough water can be the most serious. Without water your vegetable garden will die. So how can you care for your garden when the community has placed a restriction on the amount of water you can use? Or, what alternative is there if you simply want to avoid running up your water bill every month?
Collecting rainwater is the best and most cost effective way to nourish your garden and cut down on the overhead cost. Here is a quick and easy, step-by-step tutorial on how to effectively collect and use the rainwater that falls at your home.
The Collection Zone
The collection zone for any home is going to be the roof. Your roof collects and sheds hundreds of gallons of rainwater every time there is a moderate rain shower. The size of your roof will determine the overall amount of water that you can collect but the average home will shed approximately 600 gallons on water during a moderate rain shower.
As the water runs off the roof of your home it is whisked away by the gutter system. In most cases the water is transported away from the home and it simply dries up.
The Transportation Zone
The transportation zone is the gutter system itself. The average home has 6-inch gutters that run the length of the front and the back of he home. The typical use of the gutter system is to sweep water away from the home and to make sure that it does not run under the foundation of your home. However, the gutter system of your home is the best transportation zone for collecting rainwater.
The Storage Zone
The storage zone is the actual place where your rainwater will be stored. The most common form of rainwater storage is a 55-gallon barrel. The barrels come in both metal and plastic but for the sake of weight and safety, the plastic barrels are better for this application
To collect rainwater there are a few steps that you need to keep in mind. First, you need to make sure that your roof and your gutters are free from any debris such as leaves. Not only will this impede your collecting ability, but the debris is not good for water that is going to be stored. Cleaning your gutters is as simple as climbing a ladder and sweeping your hand through the gutter and removing any debris that you find.
Before you can adequately collect the rainwater you will need to prepare your collection area. It is best to use the areas in the back of your home. Locate the downspouts on the backside of your home. The downspout is typically 4 inches in width and it runs from the gutter itself down towards the ground. Once you have found the downspout, follow the next steps.
1. Prepare The Ground
Under the downspout you will need to prepare the ground to hold your barrel. Using a shovel you will need to dig a hole that is approximately 4 inches deep, 16 inches wide, and 24 inches long. Once the hole is dug, use a small pea gravel to fill in the hole.
2. Prepare The Base
After the hole has been filled with pea gravel you will then use concrete blocks as a platform for your barrel. (Remember, the higher your platform, the better your water pressure will be.) The hole will be large enough for four twelve-inch blocks. Place the blocks over the gravel and then use a level to make sure that barrel platform is level.
3. Prepare The Barrel
Most plastic barrels have a top that can be removed. Remove the top of the barrel and thoroughly clean the barrel using soap and water. Make sure that any previous chemicals are no longer present and make sure that you rinse the barrel clean before replacing the top.
After the top has been replaced you will need to cut a small hole in the top of the barrel. The hole needs to be larger than the downspout but not too large. This can be done with a razor knife. The best hole size to aim for is 4.5 inches x 4.5 inches. This should be large enough for the average downspout to fit into nicely.
You will also need to install a spigot near the bottom of your barrel. This can be done very easily and will allow you access to your collected water. Be sure that you properly seal the spigot area so there are no leaks.
4. Prepare The Downspout
You will now place your barrel on the block platform. Find the point where the top of the barrel meets the downspout and mark the downspout with a pen or marker. Next you will use a hacksaw and cut the downspout off at the appropriate mark. Once the downspout has been cut off you will need to attach an angled downspout that will direct the water into your barrel.
5. Prepare To Collect
Once the barrel has been placed and secured you will need to make the final preparation. In order to cut down on debris in your water and mosquitos that like standing water, you will need to install a wire mesh screen. It is best to install a wire mesh screen at the top of the downspout area that connects to your gutter. You will also need to place a screen over the hole in the barrel as well.
Once the screens have been installed you are ready to start collecting and using rainwater.