Alabama Rain Catchers


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Make a Rain Barrel

Introduction | A Few FAQs | Containers | Catchment | Getting The Water In | Getting The Water Out |
Dealing With Overflow
| Sunscreen For Your New Friend | Locating Your Barrel | Mosquitoes | Daisy Chains

Getting The Water Out

  • There are lots of ways to tap your barrel, the biggest concern is whether the fitting will leak or not.

  • Think about how often you will access your barrel, and how you will use it. If you will drag a hose from the spigot frequently, you’ll need a more secure fitting.

  • Some folks just connect the barrel to a soaker hose, or run a hose to a tree and leave the spigot open. In this case, you can get by with a less secure fitting.

Types of Fittings


Hose bibbs.
This is the most familiar type of spigot. It sticks out a little more than other options, so it is easier to attach a hose, or fill a watering can. The length also means more stress on the attachment point.

Boiler Drains
Short and stubby, so it is less convenient to attach a hose or fill a watering can, but it causes less stress on the attachment point.

Kink-Free Hose Bibb
Basically the same as a hose bibb, but shorter.

Attaching the Spigot

Consider how much access you will have to the inside. If you have a 4-inch opening in the top, it will be difficult to reach the inside of the barrel.

While you can simply drill a hole and insert the spigot, it will eventually leak. It depends on how often and how you use the spigot. If you don’t mind a little leakage, don’t worry.

All of the above spigots are male. For ¾-inch spigots, you need to drill a 15/16-inch or 1-inch hole. The 15/16-inch is tighter, but difficult to screw in and keep flush.

It is recommended that you insert the spigot thru a 1-inch inside diameter washer before you screw the spigot into the outside of the barrel.

Also recommended is a fitting on the inside of the barrel. This will give more stability to the spigot. A pvc tee is easy to attach and turn, but any ¾-inch female threaded fitting will work. A conduit locknut works, but will rust.

  • Teflon Tape. The spigot threads should be wrapped with Teflon plumbers tape. Screw in the spigot, then back the spigot out. This taps the hole. Then wrap with tape and re-insert. You could add a dab of silicone caulk, if desired. If you opt to add silicone caulk, be sure that it is paintable, as you will want to paint the completed rain barrel.

  • To tap or not to tap? A tap is a tool that puts threads in a surface, in this case, the plastic barrel wall. The rule of thumb is that a tapped hole needs 3-4 threads to make the threads grab the fitting. I can’t say if the barrel wall is that thick. Tapping the hole does make it easier to insert the spigot, especially if you are using a 15/16-inch bit. Most folks don’t have a tap, and they are expensive…$60.00-$95.00. If you have one, go for it.

  • Epoxies. Epoxies are a good way to provide a leak-proof seal between the barrel wall and spigot. Be sure that that the epoxy is made for underwater use, safe for potable water and designed to be used with both plastic and metal. If you use epoxy, skip the Teflon tape.

  • PVC cement. PVC cement acts by slightly dissolving the surface of a pvc fitting, so that two pvc pieces are fused, not glued. I have observed pvc cement to have no effect on plastic barrels (they aren’t made of pvc). I can see no reason to use pvc cement to join high density plastic with metal. If someone has different information, please let me know.

  • Gorilla glue. Yes, I too am a fan of Gorilla Glue, but it doesn’t work for rain barrels. We tried it already.

Bulkhead Fittings

The most secure and leak proof way to attach a spigot.

The bulkhead is made of two pieces that screw together, and two gaskets. The center is threaded to accommodate a ¾” spigot. The two pieces are designed to sandwich the barrel wall between them.

A bulkhead fitting is the best way, but can be expensive. Plumbing supply stores carry them for $10.00-$15.00. Our source for affordable bulkhead fittings is rainharvest.com, they have them for $4.00.

Installing the bulkhead

  • Take the bulkhead apart. Note that it left-hand threaded, so you’ll need to turn it in the opposite direction than you would normally turn.

  • From the inside of the barrel, insert the male side of the bulkhead and it’s gasket thru a 1 3/8” hole. This is the size hole for RainHarvest Systems bulkheads, the size can vary by brand.

  • If you can’t reach the inside of the barrel, run the fitting down a coat hanger or piece of wire. You’ll be able to easily pull it thru the hole with your fingers.

  • Thread the female side and it’s gasket from the outside. Wrap your spigot threads with Teflon tape and screw it in to the bulkhead.

  • Done.

Using the bung cap

If you examine the bung caps, you’ll see that the caps have a threaded depression. The threads can be used to attach a ¾” hose bibb, boiler drain, or silcock. Drill out the seal in the threaded depression. Use a 13/16” bit, using care to not damage the threads.
To do this, you’ll need to turn the barrel upside down, with bung caps on the bottom, or lay the barrel on its side.

Hose Adapters

A hose adapter will allow you to attach a hose directly to the barrel, without a spigot. This is not cheaper than a spigot, even though it is a simpler fitting. I cannot explain this. If the end of the hose is above the level of water in the barrel, no water will come out of the hose. Or you can add a cut-off on the hose. These are available with the hose repair fittings. Don’t plan to kink/ clamp your hose, unless you want the hose to spring a leak.

Note that there are several types of hose adapters, the threads can be different. If you want to attach a hose, you’ll need hose threads.

Watts # A-665 Hose thread x Pipe thread
Watts# A-680 Hose threads on both sides

Improvised Bulkhead fittings

Use a female silcock on the outside with a male pvc adapter on the inside of the barrel. Add a 1” inside diameter washer on the inside and outside. This works great, but is difficult to install unless you have a large opening to reach the inside of the barrel. Or very long arms.

No Fitting: Dipping

There is no law that you must use a fitting. You can fashion an easily removable lid and dip water with a watering can, gourd, turtle shell or Grecian urn. If you need something to do.


Introduction | A Few FAQs | Containers | Catchment | Getting The Water In | Getting The Water Out |
Dealing With Overflow
| Sunscreen For Your New Friend | Locating Your Barrel | Mosquitoes | Daisy Chains