Stacking 55 Gallon Water Barrels
Storing water for is an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan. However, finding the floor space for multiple 55 gallon water barrels and also coming up with a way to drain and refill the barrels on occasion made me realize that stacking water barrels might be a good solution.
In researching the topic, it seems most people recommend draining and refilling water barrels about once a year (if water comes from a city water source which is already chlorinating the water). With this stacked water barrel design, I can drain the water to a nearby drain in my mechanical closet and then I've added a hose bib in the mechanical closet near the drain to allow me to quickly refill the barrels.
One concern people have when looking to stack water barrels, is can my shelving support all that weight? As you are probably aware, water weighs a bit over 8 lbs per gallon so a full 55 gallon water barrel with be around 450 lbs and stacking 4 barrels puts you at 1800 lbs total. This shelving system supports that weight and distributes the weight in a way that prevents the barrels from being deformed when full. My water barrel stack has been full for around a year and so far is performing great.
This water barrel stack is built into some other shelving being put in a storage closet. This gives the stack some lateral stability. The ceiling in this basement closet is 10' which allows stacking 4 barrels. With an 8' ceiling, you'd probably only be able to stack 3 water barrels.
The first step in the project was building a 2x4 base and then putting in the corner posts. Where possible attach the vertical 2x4s the existing structure of the closet and even floor joists in the ceiling. 3" screws work great for holding things together.
The horizontal 2x4s will be holding the weight of the barrels and this weight is multiplied with each barrel stacked on top so it is important to support with another vertical 2x4 as shown in the picture below rather than just screwing into the vertical posts.
Repeat the same procedure on the next two vertical posts.
After completing that for each barrel being stacked, add 2x4s on each side of the barrel from front to back to distribute the weight of the barrel. To get the spacing just right, place the empty barrel on the shelf then pull the supports towards the center of the barrel until they are snug against the barrel then screw them into the shelf. If these support are not added, you will have a significant amount of weight on the front and back of the barrel which can deform the barrel and can be a potential failure point for the water barrel.
The picture below is another close-up of the front-to-back supporting of the barrel.
Here is the completed rack for the 4 empty water barrels. Next will be installing the hose bibs and filling the barrels.