Questions of how to set up water cistern systems with 55 gallon barrels : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Hi everyone!!

You guys are wonderful and have helped me with many of my preps. I'm afraid I have a stupid question, but I know that many of you have or are setting up similar systems to what we are trying to do. And we are stymied!!

We have 3 55 gallon drums that used to hold Pepsi products and we are trying to set up a rain catch cystern with these from the gutter system on our house.

Here's the dumb question: How do you attach the 3 barrels so that you can catch the water in one barrel and after it is full have it flow to the additional 2 barrels? We have the technology to catch the rain and to siphon the water out of the barrel, but not how we can have the water flow from one barrel to another... Since we just have the one small entrance into or out of the barrel at the top, we can't get our hands into the barrel to lock in any bridging system from one barrel to the other!

This is frustrating! We are smart people, but we can't figure out how to make this work! And I'm sure there is an easy answer!! (please don't flame me for missing what is no doubt an obvious answer!)

HELP!! Thank you again for all of this forum's wonderful help and support!

-- Cath (, October 29, 1999


I'd set up a T system. Put the pipe with a T down each one with a pipe running to the next one and next one. As the water fills up one it will backup to the T then go over to the next barrel. I haven't tried it but its a thought.

-- Stacia (, October 30, 1999.

Once you get some water in the first barrel
you can set up a siphon to the second, and
from the second to the third. They will fill
at an equal pace. If you need to have the first
one fill completely before filling the second
you will need to drill an overflow hole and
connect the barrels with these. These holes can
be made water-tight by using a threaded fitting
and rubber washers.

-- spider (, October 30, 1999.

Thanks for the suggestions--We've actually come up with a design like you suggested, Stacia. But the only way we can make it work is to lay the barrels on their sides so that the water can cascade from the upper to the lower barrels--collecting in the upper barrel and having it cascade into the two below. We would then use a hand held pump that would draw from the two lower barrels equally. I just feel that there must be a way to do this easier!

Spider--we thought about your option as well and figure that it would only work in a good steady rain. On a light rain or misty day there wouldn't be enough flow to keep the siphon primed. Also we can't figure out how to use a locking hub since we can't reach into the barrel and hold the inner nut or hub to screw into. Hmmmmmm.

Any other thoughts out there?

-- Cath (, October 30, 1999.

> figure that it would only work in a
> good steady rain.

The siphon will work without any flow
once the first barrel has some water.
Water seeks it's own level so the barrels
will remain at the same height. Just put
a hose into each barrel. Once the siphon
is started it will continue to work even
without a flow.

> Also we can't figure out how to use a
> locking hub since we can't reach into
> the barrel and hold the inner nut or hub
> to screw into.

Put the hole at the top under the opening.
Put a nut from a =" romex clamp from the
electrical dept. on a =" x 4" pipe nipple. Use
a stick to hold the nipple through the hole from
the inside. Put on a washer made from an old
innertube. Put on another romex nut and tighten.
Use =" IP x =" IP flexible risers to connect the

-- spider (, October 30, 1999.


Simply use a manifold, as suggested above. Run your downspout so that it feeds into the manifold, not into any one barrel. This won't allow you to fill one barrel and then overflow to the next, but it will allow you to use all 3 barrels to store water.

The point is, you have a total of 165 gallons storage capacity. If you start with the barrels empty and have a brief shower you might end up with 5 gallons in each tank, or 15 gallons total. It doesn't really matter if you have these 15 gallons in one barrel or in 3. As you get more rain all 3 tanks will fill up further. When you use water, you'll only use from one tank......the other will stay at the level to which they've been filled. This will happen until all 3 barrels have been filled.

It'll work.

-- de (, October 30, 1999.

Well, thanks for the responses. You've given us (hubby, especially) lots to think about and to try. One last question for anyone still reading this thread: We will be using silicon to plug the holes and make it watertight. Is there any danger of the silicon "off gassing" into our water supply? And, if so, will a good water filter filter out the extra chemicals and taste from the water collected?

Thanks again--

-- Cath (, October 31, 1999.

Silicon releases toxic chemicals. GE was
sued because they had a dishwasher on the
box of calk cartridges and the people got
sick. Fish will die if you use general
purpose silicon to seal the tanks. There
is a special fish tank silicon that you
could use safely.

When I used the nipple and nut method
mentioned earlier, I used pipe putty to
seal it. That worked fine as the water is
not under pressure.

-- spider (, November 01, 1999.

I was at the Phoenix Zoo awhile back, and they had a setup that is what you are looking for. They had about 6 55 gal. barrels on a stand about a foot off the ground they were all connected together, with a T coming out of the bottom, in a line. and the down spout went into the top of the first one that way they all fill at the same time and the barrels can fill to the t

-- wittey (, November 01, 1999.

Line the barrells up like steps. One on the ground. #2 one foot higher. #3 one foot higher yet. #3 spills over to #2. #2 spills over to #1. (by way of pipe ) Cinder blocks would be ideal steps.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), November 01, 1999.

Again--thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. We've decided on a pyramid structure with the flow from the gutters going into the top barrel. This will have a pipe on the bottom connecting it to the bottom two barrels. We have ordered a hand pump which should be strong enough to get the water from both lower barrels connecting into a single pipe. This method would only involve drilling one hole--which continues to be our most vexing problem in terms of how to make it work from the inside using a stick for the inner nut and how to make it water tight.

We will avoid using silicon--thanks again Spider! Duh, I should have known that! Got some plumber's putty instead. I'll post when the system is complete--hopefully within the next few days as they are predicting rain for later this week.

-- Cath (, November 02, 1999.

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