The basic job of your home’s roof and rain gutter system is simple: collect rainwater and take it away from the home, preventing damage to the foundation and other parts of the house. As long as your gutter system is accomplishing this task, you’ve gotten your money’s worth. But it’s not hard to make it do more for you. If you haven’t before, consider the benefits of assembling a simple rainwater collection system for your home.
Collecting rainwater will give you a ready supply of fresh water for any non-potable use you have. Rainwater is especially well suited for watering plants, as it doesn’t have any of the chemicals that treated water employs and contains beneficial oxygen. Using stored rainwater as irrigation for your lawn, garden, or indoor plants will increase their health.
Apart from watering the plants, you can also use rainwater for uses such as washing your car, filling your pool, washing your pets, cleaning off decks or sidewalks, and anything else for which you usually use municipal water. It’s no more difficult, and you’ll save money on your water bill immediately.
But the benefits of collecting rainwater aren’t just for you – rainwater collection also protects against run-off damage to surrounding landscaping, and reduces burden on large sewer systems and drainage infrastructure. It reduces demand on municipal water systems, too. In other words, it’s not just good for you; it’s good for the community.
If you’re interested in a rainwater collection system for your home, you can choose from a variety of different options. There are expensive, complicated pre-fab systems that many people sell specifically for home installs. If you want to start a little slower (and cheaper) though, it’s easy enough to make one on your own.
Basically, all you need to do is run your gutter’s downspout into a collection vessel. Large barrels work well, and can even be gotten for cheap or free from restaurants that get food in bulk. Ask around at your favorite local restaurants, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get an old barrel or two.
Wash the bucket out with soap and water, and mount a spout or spigot toward the bottom. This is easily done with simple tools from the hardware store, a couple of washers, and a tube of silicone calk. Ask your local hardware store if you need more information. You should also drill and overflow valve at the top of the barrel to avoid dangerous pressure buildup.
After the barrel is clean and has a spigot, it’s time to make a platform for it to stand on, right next to the downspout. This is done easily with a few cinderblocks laid next to each other on level ground. Place the barrel on top, and run your downspout to the top of the barrel. You can so this with a metal gutter elbow, hosing, or another method of your choice. Just make sure It’s a good idea to mount it directly into the barrel’s lid with a tight fit a caulk sealing, in order to avoid contamination and debris getting in, but you can also just leave the top open.
Now you’ve got a fully functional home rainwater collection system! How much rainwater will it collect? About 0.623 gallons per inch of rain and square foot of roof. That means if your roof is 1,000 square feet, it will collect about 623 gallons of rainwater per inch of rain. (The importance of the overflow valve should now be clear.)
Now all you need to do is keep your gutter system clean and functional for your rainwater collection to work like a charm. Get your gutters checked for damage regularly, clean them often or hire a cleaning service, and you’ll be reaping the benefits of home-collected rainwater in no time.