DIY Gardening


I installed a water butt last week to see if I could make the world a better place. It’s been exciting.

The first hurdle was the unavailability of a proper stand. We were informed by a Customer Services Representative at Pimp Your Garden PLC that this was due to a huge demand for water butts. Sankey, who manufacture water butts, had basically shifted their production facility from a 50/50 split to put more emphasis on butts, and less on accessories. Fair enough.

We purchased the butt and then went off on a stand-hunt. In a nearby garden centre, we found no stands, but we did find a rather cute little slimline butt that we would have bought, were it not for the fact that we already had a butt in our boot and we couldn’t be bothered to return it. So we bought a cheap terracotta pot instead, which we could turn upside-down for use as a stand.

**UPDATE:** *Found a proper stand at a different store. I’m much happier overall, but with the new stand the butt can’t get as close to the wall. I will need to hack the downpipe a bit more.*

We brought the butt home and I set to work cutting a hole in the top for the downpipe. At this point it struck me that I’d need to divert the downpipe away from the wall. By now I was sick of thinking about butts, so I put the project on hiatus until the following weekend.

On Saturday morning I threw on some clothes and went round to our local builders yard, where I purchased two curved sections of pipe to construct a makeshift diverter. I hacked the old downpipe into pieces, and put my diverter in place. Job finished.

Or… is it?

Problem #1

I did some back-of-napkin sums to calculate how much rainfall would be needed to fill the butt. The problem is that I don’t know the exact area of roof that is catching rainwater that will find its way into my butt, so my numbers are fuzzy. The reason that this is a problem is that my diverter (though solidly constructed) does not contain an overflow facility. If the butt fills up, then the water will back up the pipe, along the gutters, resulting in a cuboid column of water stretching perpendicularly up from the rooftop and yards into the sky. Okay, that’s a lie. But it will bubble out of the small holes in the lid of the butt, causing a slightly unattractive eruption.

**UPDATE:** *Oh boy, does it ever. I definitely need to give this particular aspect some more thought.*

**UPDATE:** *I’ve ordered an overflow kit. Fitting this will involve the drilling of a hole. Once this is in place, my woes are behind me!*

**UPDATE:** *Fitted the overflow. I’m a little concerned that it is too near to the top and it won’t be able to keep up with the influx of water during a heavy downfall, but we’ll have to wait and see. My fears might come to nothing.*

Problem #2

Being the lazy man that I am, I chopped up the existing downpipe for use as components in my diverter. When winter comes, I will want to disconnect the butt to prevent the water from freezing and deforming it. My initial thought was just to leave the tap open, but upon further examination, I’m not sure that this will be sufficient. I’ll either need to buy a new length of downpipe, or use a bit of electrical tape to reconstruct the downpipe, Frankenstylee. Which sounds like fun, so maybe this isn’t a problem at all.

**UPDATE:** *I’ve bought some connectors that will allow me to reassemble the downpipe without having to resort to tape. Seemed like a sensible choice.*

Problem #2

There appears to be some leakage from my butt. Very small quantities of water are dripping from around the tap. I reckon that it could go from full to empty in less than a month, which undermines my efforts somewhat – the whole point is that you fill the thing up in May and then use the water in August. Then again, unless my back-of-napkin maths have improved significantly lately, you shouldn’t really pay too much attention to my estimates. Patching it up with electrical tape is making no difference, so some kinda funky sealant is clearly what’s required here.

**UPDATE:** *I have applied some silicone-based sealant and allowed it to dry. The water butt is now watertight.*

4 replies on “Butthead”

Duct tape is the secret to everything. Their is absolutely nothing you can’t do with duct tape.

Although I would chance my arm at silicon glue for good measure too.

Yeah, we’ve used silicone sealant round the taps of both our water-butts.

I don’t know why, but it seems to be a manufacturing “feature” to make all the tap fittings leak. It’s really fucking annoying.

[…] My working day gets shorter and shorter; I’ll never be able to claim back all my overtime anyway, but at least I feel justified in leaving as early as I’m allowed to, to get back for a nap before Pete gets home. My favourite part of the day, right now, is the bit we spend chatting on the bed before I go downstairs to make dinner. He tells me his concerns about the water butt project, and I complain about the train journey. It makes it all better. […]

[…] Pete’s mum came to stay the night on Saturday, and we took her to Guildford to do some shopping. She scoured the place for a particular baby beaker made by Heinz, which she insists we will need immediately. She also had a lovely time in [Grand]Mothercare, purchasing a mountain of cotton wool, of which we can’t possibly have enough; and found the perfect changing mat at The White Company. Then she informed me that my constant hunger was just greed, and told Pete off for stealing the neighbours’ water, so we sent her to bed without any supper. […]

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