How to Measure a 55-Gallon Drum

Fifty-five gallon drums are available in several sizes and types. The measurements for each drum differ from each manufacturer and for each type. The most common drum materials are plastic and steel or metal. Drum lids have either an open head that allows the entire lid to be removed or closed heads that have one filling hole and one ventilation hole with covers. Some manufacturers sell drums by the internal measurements and some sell them by the external measurements.

External Measurements

Fifty-five gallon drums may be metal or plastic.
  1. Place the tip of a measuring tape at the bottom of the drum. Stretch the measuring tape up to the drum top including the raised edges around the lid if there are any.

  2. Read the measurement in inches to the tenth of an inch for the drum's external height.

  3. Measure the diameter of the top of the drum from side to side. Read the measurement to the nearest tenth of an inch for the external diameter.

Internal Measurements

  1. Unsnap the lever or unscrew the bolt on the metal band holding the lid onto an open head drum. Lift the band off the drum and pull the lid straight off. If you are measuring a closed head drum with two openings on top, unscrew one lid counterclockwise and pull it straight up to remove it.

  2. Stretch a measuring tape out and insert the tip into the drum. Place the tip on the bottom of the steel or plastic drum. Read the measurement in inches and tenths of inches at the barrel top. This is the height of the drum.

  3. Measure a closed head drum top diameter as the area between the lips on both sides. Place the tip of a measuring tape inside of an open head drum in the middle and measure the diameter from side to side. Read the measurement in inches to the nearest tenth of an inch.

About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.