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How to fit a water butt (and clean it)

Read on for how to fit a water butt, with further information to keep it clean and smell free.


By Cleanipedia Team

water tank outside a house

Key steps

  • Place your water butt on a stand.
  • Make sure it’s on a flat, solid surface.
  • Cut the downpipe level with the hole at the top of your water butt.
  • Attach a diverter, and pipe hose between the downpipe and hole.
  • Keep your water butt clean with a liquid treatment product.

Having a water butt means you can collect rainwater to water your garden in a more eco-friendly and cost-effective way but it's important to fit and maintain them correctly. Here we’ll share step-by-step instructions on how to fit a water butt and stop it getting smelly.

Correctly fitting and cleaning your water butt is a great way to be eco-friendly and save money. For more tips read how to save money with rainwater collection.

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How to fit a rainwater diverter: a guide to fitting a water butt to the outside of your home

With these simple steps, we’ll show you an easy guide for how to fit a rainwater diverter kit to your home:

  1. Choose the downpipe you wish to use.
  2. Place your water butt or barrel a maximum of 50cm away from the downpipe.
  3. Make sure your butt is placed on a base. Some will come with a stand; others may need you to improvise. Ensure whatever you us is sturdy enough to hold up the butt.
  4. Always rest your base or support on a solid, flat surface. Ensure it will be able to withstand the pressure of bearing the weight of the butt when it is full of water.
  5. Remove the temporary plug in the hole at the top of your water butt. If it doesn’t have one, drill a hole instead. The hole should be on the side nearest the downpipe, around 6-10cm below the top of the butt.
  6. Use a spirit level to mark the downpipe directly across from the hole you created.
  7. Use a hacksaw to cut through the downpipe.
  8. Fit the diverter between the two pieces of downpipe.
  9. Pull the splash seal over the outer area of the diverter.
  10. Connect the flexible pipe hose between the diverter attached to the downpipe and the hole on your butt.
  11. Place the lid on top of your water butt.
  12. Apply a child-proof lock.

Now, when it rains your butt or barrel will start storing rainwater for all your gardening needs

How to clean your water butt: an easy step-by-step guide

With the following steps we’ll show you how to keep your water butt clean and the water as fresh as possible:

  • Use a garden hose or a jet hose to spray down the outside of your water butt and keep it clean.
  • Make sure you keep the lid sealed shut to prevent dirt and grime getting inside.
  • Use a liquid treatment product inside the butt to keep it clean during use. These usually come in tablet or liquid form and are great for: 1) restoring the natural balance of water, 2) preventing scum build-up, 3) getting rid of unpleasant odours, and 4) keeping the water free of algae and slime.
  • Always follow the instructions from the manufacturer when using these products.
  • To prevent your water butt splitting, empty the water before the winter cold sets in.
  • The best time to clean inside your water butt is when you empty it for winter.
  • Use a hose to spray out the inside of your water butt, this should be enough if you have ensured it remained sealed and used a liquid treatment product.
  • If you do have any grim build-up inside your water butt, scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush before hosing it down.

With these tips how to install a water butt and how to keep it clean, you can get started on your rainwater collection with the next downpour!

Originally published