How to Install a Rain Barrel Diverter

A rain barrel diverter.
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Eye goggles
Tin snips

Water is a valuable resource. It's also one that's easy to conserve with the help of a rain barrel, which can be found through local resale sites or ordered from retailers online. Although you can use barrels to collect rainwater directly from the sky, the job is much more efficient with the use of a rain barrel diverter, which detours the water running out of your gutter downspout directly into the water barrel. Here’s how to do it!

Choose the Right Size

Typical downspouts measure either 2” x 3” or 3” x 4." There are several styles and designs of diverters, but they will all list the sizes they cover, so it's important to be aware of what size you need.

If you're starting out with a used water barrel, make sure that it did not previously have harmful chemicals or gasoline in it. Your yard and plants would not appreciate that very much. Also, spray paint can help you freshen the look or match the color of the house if desired.


The diverter is designed to carry water to your rain barrel, but it will also carry water back to your downspout once the rain barrel is full. The kit you order will include both the diverter component that will be inserted into the downspout and also the hose that connects it to the rain barrel. There should also be screws, a couplet, and caps for the side spout of the diverter.

Measuring a gutter for a rain barrel.

Your diverter kit should come with instructions specific to your kit, but before you start, make sure to visually lay out the area. Your water barrel should be elevated off the ground with room to attach a hose to the lower spigot. When you attach the hose from the diverter, the barrel should be equal to the height of the diverter so that water does not run uphill, which will restrict the amount of water you collect, or downhill, which can possibly create an overflow.

A rain barrel with a level on top.

Use a level to mark the height of the water barrel on the downspout. If your barrel does not already have one, you’ll need to drill a hole in the side of the barrel and insert the couplet so you can attach the hose there.


Using the instructions as a guide, mark the top and bottom cut points on your downspout with a pencil. These outline the area that will be removed and replaced by the diverter. Use a hacksaw to get started. If the position of your downspout makes this difficult, you can use metal snips to finish the job. Warning: Wear gloves and eye protection when using these tools.

Once your top and bottom cuts are made, remove the segment of the downspout. Replace the section with your diverter and screw in or otherwise mount as directed in the instructions. Next, cut the hose to a comfortable length to reach the water barrel. Too much slack will keep it from flowing properly. Attach one end of the hose to the diverter and the other end to the couplet on the side of the water barrel.

Using Double Water Barrels

Many diverters are designed to work with two water barrels. If that's the case for your model, attach a second hose segment to the other side of the diverter and to the couplet on the second water barrel. If your diverter does not have this feature, place a splitter in the hose and attach a second hose that runs from the splitter to the second barrel. Note: If your diverter is set up for two, but you're only planning to use one barrel, make sure to cap off the second opening of the diverter.

Collecting rain water from Mother Nature becomes automatic when you install a downspout diverter. This makes a great reserve with which to water your garden, houseplants, grass—or to wash your car! Plus, it saves money on your water bill!