Monday, 8 June 2009

The Water Butt Of The Jokes

I Like Big (Water) Butts and I Cannot Lie

I’m employed to help businesses see the sense in saving energy, and the conservation message rubs off on me as I market it to the manufacturers of the UK. With this tree-hugging attitude, I set off to Argos recently to get myself a Water Butt. ... It’s at this point that those of you who were expecting different Butts rapidly become part of my Bounce Rate stats :)

Installing Your Water butt

I’d set aside an hour or more to get this job done, so I was amazed and delighted when the job was done in about 20 minutes. You won’t need much, but it’s good to get set things out before you begin.

- A 450mm x 450mm square, or larger, level surface
- A 25mm hole saw (I used 26mm, not problems)
- A saw, suitable for your downspout which is usually made of plastic these days

Get a level surface to site the water butt, somewhere near a main downspout (obvious? maybe!) and where the thing’s not going to get knocked over. I used a little gravel and a basic 450mm flag which was about £4 from B&Q. A little shovelling and a spirit level later and that's the site ready.

Put the water butt on its stand on your level site. Then, measure a level from the spot where the filling pipe will be attached, to determine the same height on your downspout. Move the water butt out of the way or you'll end up falling over the damn thing.

Saw your downspout right through at the level you measured. Keep the cut horizontal or the diverter (the little device that fills your butt up) will look wonky. Saw again, 30mm below the first cut. You should have a nice 30mm deep gap and a correspondingly nice 30mm length of downspout. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t think of use for this, so I threw it away. It’s too flimsy to poach eggs with, too short to propogate seeds in… just throw the damn thing away!

Loosen any brackets that keep your downspout attached to the house - just for a couple of minutes. Slide the rain diverter into the gap by moving the downspout bits to the side, then straighten the spout up again, with the diverter attached. There’s a nice little cover to make it look pretty and to stop random insects or leaves falling in, too: make sure this is put in place. Re-attach the brackets to keep everything in place.

In the picure, I’ve attached the fill-pipe, but you don’t have to, I just wanted to see if I could get a tune out of it. I did, I’m considering entering Britain’s Got Talent with my Houseaphone next year if I can get it on stage at the Lowry.

Now, back to the water butt itself… Put it back on its stand where it’s going to live. Work out how to align it so that the filling pipe (from the diverter to the butt) will be level and fairly short. Then drill your 25mm hole in the side of the butt. There is a flat circular guidance bit to give you a clue, but you don’t necessarily have to use this. Drill your 25mm hole and attach the pipe-holder provided, which will seal the hole by screwing tight to the inside & outside of the butt.

Attach your fill-pipe to the pipe holder in the water butt, cut the pipe to the right length and attach the other end to the rain diverter in your downspout. The pipe must be horizontal, or your water butt either won’t fill, or might overflow.

There, you’ve done it. How easy is that? Let me answer that, it’s amazingly easy. I should know: I’m rubbish at DIY.

How Good Is This Water Butt Anyway?

I thought that this £25-worth of rotomoulded plastic might save me a few trips to the tap to fill watering cans, and that having one in the garden send out the right signal to my kids about conserving water. I didn’t actually expect to be impressed.

I put a couple of pans of water into the thing at first, to stop it blowing away. We had a dry few days. Then as you’ll know if you’re in the UK, it rained like, well like a rainy thing, for a day and a half solid. I came home from a morning's karting (what a great trip - another blog, perhaps!) and checked my new toy. It was full, to just under the brim!

I was gobsmacked. That one and half days of rain will keep my strawberries, sweet peas, raspberries and hanging basket happy for weeks! That’s thanks to a roofspace about 15 feet by 15 feet – basically the back half of my average-area home. 100 litres of saved water.

Just imagine how much chemical-free rainwater runs away down your drains: it’s amazing how much we waste free resources that fall straight from the sky.
I can’t recommend this bit of kit
highly enough. It’s the right thing to do, and for £25 it’s a bargain.

Save the planet, one garden at a time. Tell them Phill sent you… Again! ;o)

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