Well, I finally got my rain barrel up and collecting. All the websites I went to for instructions on how to connect them up left out tons of crucial information.

rain barrel - kind of looks like mine, but mine is cooler

The first problem I had to resolve, which I was aware of before I even got started was, how to waterproof the drill holes in my home’s siding where I would attach the downspout above where I plan to cut it (for the off-set section that runs the roof drainage over to the barrel).

This may seem obvious to others, but not to a non-construction/ handyman (handywoman) type such as myself. I knew I needed to squirt something in the holes so water could not leak in around the screws, but did not know what to use. Some sealants become rigid after some time and others remain pliant, and which would be best? Finally I asked a handyman friend, and he loaned me a tube of goo that he said was just the thing. One problem down, many more to go, although I didn’t know it at the time.

So, cutting the downspout. I hadn’t really thought this through, as all the instructions glossed over this part, saying “Cut the downspout at the right height and attach the offset sections.” Right. So, back in the REAL world, I was standing there, with the downspout firmly attached to the house at the correct height. I had my hacksaw in my hand, and had just cut 90% of the way through the downspout. Now I was hitting the house with part of the hacksaw, and the blade was nowhere near the last section of the aluminum downspout, which, if you think about it, sits snugly against the wall of the house.

So, I have many odd saws that were inherited from my dad, all collected in a drawer in my garage. So I recalled one that was basically a handle to which you could attach a hacksaw blade, and if I remembered correctly (which as it turns out, I did), it should be able to saw right up against the house.

Well, the way it turned out, I rifled through the saw collection, first trying one that seemed like it would work, and it did not, because the blade it required was slightly thicker than the hacksaw blade, with which I had already cut most of the way through the downspout. So then I ran back into the garage and looked for one that only used the same hacksaw blade that made my original cut. Well, I found it, and yes, it worked.

The next issue was how to get the water from the cut end of the downspout to the barrel. I tried using many sections of 45 degree downspouts, but I couldn’t get them to end up in the right place. The downspout is rectangular, meaning one side is wider than the other, so the 45 degree sections had to match up to the downspout. It turned out that it required too many sections and would end up lower than the top of the barrel. Also, it looked like hell, with all the turns required.

So, I was now stumped. I called my handyman friend and he came over and gave it his creative problem solving skills. First we ran around town, trying to find the right sections of rectangular downspouts, to no avail. That took up Sunday afternoon. Well, it is rainy season here and so he rigged up a temporary thing so I wouldn’t have the downspout pouring water against the house out the end of the cut downspout. And I think he needed to think about it some more.

So yesterday (Tuesday) he came by with some ROUND, white PVC pipe and 45 degree sections. I thought round was an odd choice, but as it turned out, it worked great. We squeezed the end of the rectangular downspout until it fit into the round 45 section (talk about putting a square peg in a round hole – sometimes that does work!). He had a fitting that screwed a little way into the opening on the barrel, it wasn’t really the right size, but it could be forced in a few turns and that is all we needed. Then a gasket, which was slightly too large, but again, we squeezed that baby in and it worked just fine. Then another 45 fitting and we were ready to put a section of straight, round PVC between the 45 connected to the end of the downspout and out to the 45 on top of the barrel.

YES! Success at last! And last night it started raining, so I ran around to the back of the house to check on it and sure enough, I could hear the rain dripping into the barrel. Very cool.

Now, I need to solve the problem of keeping all the fir needles out of the rain barrel. My friend has a plan for that, so I’ll update you when we get that done. I’ll have to include photos next time as well. I was so excited that I forgot the camera.

Hamster report

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