How to fit a water butt

How to fit a water butt

Like with many DIY tasks, once you’ve taken the decision of wanting to fit a water buttthe next step of planning where and how to fit a water butt can suddenly appear complicated. Planning in advance is the key to success. This blog post is a simple 3 step guide on how to fit a water butt, and I hope it will make your task quicker and easier.

how to fit a water butt

Step 1 – Planning where to fit a water butt

The main considerations are:

  • The water butt needs to be placed very near a drain pipe
    This is obvious if you intend the drain pipe to go directly into the water butt, but if you want to place it next to the drain pipe you need to bear in mind that rainwater diverter kits usually only provide a 50cm connection hose. It is possible to buy longer hoses, but you will need to buy an additional one to any included in the price of the water butt.
  • Decide how you want to connect your water butt
    A simple option is to place the water butt directly under a drain pipe, often by simply leaving the lid off. This approach is particularly common if collecting water off a shed or garage. The method is very quick and the drain pipe is very unlikely to get blocked by dirt – a common problem for rainwater diverter kits. It’s less popular when using a drain pipe from a home roof. This is because leaves and other objects can fall into the water butt and may make it smelly. Also, if installed correctly, rainwater diverter kits allow excess water (ie when the water butt is full) to flow back down the drain pipe. This helps to prevent the area around the water butt getting damp and soggy.
  • Choosing the best drain pipe
    Ideally this will be one close to the plants you want to water. Other considerations are that a pitched roof drain pipe is likely to deliver more water than a flat roof drain pipe. You may not want the water butt too visible for aesthetic reasons, and the water butt is likely to be cleaner and less smelly standing in the shade and away from any trees that could cause leaves to fall through the holes in the lid of the water butt. Most important of all, the water butt needs to stand on flat ground. Water butts are very heavy when full and can cause a serious accident were they to fall, especially if children and pets are likely to be near them.
  • Choosing your water butt
    Given the above considerations, water butts come in many shapes and sizes to make installation easier (fat, thin, round etc.) and choosing the right dimensions will make it easier for you to fit a water butt. Expect to pay more for water butts of a larger size or with characterful shapes and colours. You will probably use your water butts for many years, so it’s worth getting a strong, durable type that may cost you a little more. Follow this link to see the range of waterbutts available on Amazon UK.

See all water butts and accessories on Amazon UK.

Step 2: How to fit a water butt.

The video below is the method I used to fit a water butt at my home.

This is a check list of tools to have handy before starting to fit a water butt:

  • Water butt, stand and lid
    (lids should come with a water butt, however a stand may not)
  • Water butt tap (often comes with a water butt)
  • Rainwater diverter kit
  • Hacksaw (for cutting into the drain pipe)
  • Hole drill bit and power drill
    (tap holes are often prepared, water inlet holes are often not)
  • Spirit level and tape measure (see video)


Step 3 – Care after fitting

Apart from being lucky with rain, water butts require very little attention. Three tips are as follows:

  • Keep checking that your water butt fills up with rain
    It is common for rainwater diverter kits to get blocked up with dirt that falls down the drain pipe. A good tip is to place an old pair of ladies tights over the end of the drain pipe where it goes into the water butt to stop this.
  • Check that leaves are not falling into the water butt
    Leaves rot, and rotting leaves smell. Algae growth can also be a problem.
  • Remember to empty your water butt(s) in the winter
    Ice expands, so if your water butts are full they are at risk of breaking apart

You may like to see our article on water butt accessories or view the full range of water butts available on Amazon UK.

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