Connecting two water butts together is a fantastic way to maximise rainwater collection in your garden, ensuring you have a plentiful supply of water for your plants, especially during dryer periods. This article will walk you through the process step-by-step, from planning and preparation to maintenance and troubleshooting.

Water Butts in Series
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What Is a Water Butt?

A water butt is a container used to collect and store rainwater, typically from your roof via downpipes. This sustainable approach not only saves you money on water bills but is also better for your plants as rainwater is softer and free from the chemicals found in tap water.

Why Use Multiple Water Butts?

Connecting two or more water butts can greatly increase your water storage capacity. This is particularly beneficial in areas with water usage restrictions or for gardeners with larger plots who require more water.

How Does Connecting Two Water Butts Help?

By linking two water butts, you increase the amount of water you are able to collect and ensure a continuous supply of rainwater, reducing the need for tap water and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle. This method also provides a backup supply, ensuring you’re less likely to run out of water when you need it most.

Can Connecting Two Water Butts Save Water?

Absolutely. By maximising the amount of rainwater you can collect and store, you make the most of a free resource, reducing your reliance on mains water and decreasing your environmental footprint.

How to Connect Two Water Butts

Connecting 2 water butts is a great idea if you live in a particularly wet area. It is relatively easy to do too. Follow our steps below and you will have it done in no time.

What You Need

  • Two Water Butts
  • A Diverter Kit
  • Flexible Hose
  • Hose Clips
  • Drill with Appropriate Bits
  • Saw for Cutting the Downpipe
  • Sealant or Plumber’s Tape
  • Bricks or Paving Slabs (If needed to elevate the water butts)

Step 1 – Prepare the Water Butts

Start by placing your water butts on a solid, level base, ideally close to a downpipe. If your butts come without pre-drilled holes for the diverter kit, you’ll need to drill these yourself, following the instructions that come with your diverter kit.

Position the first water butt where it will collect the most water, usually directly under the downpipe. The second butt should be close enough to the first to connect them with a short length of hose, but still on a stable, level base.

Step 2 – Install the Diverter Kit

Measure the height of the first water butt and mark this on the downpipe, ensuring you account for the diverter’s height. Cut the downpipe at this mark using a saw.

Install the diverter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves attaching it to the cut section of the downpipe and ensuring a snug fit to prevent leaks.

Step 3 – Prepare the Water Butts

If your water butts do not come with pre-drilled holes, you’ll need to drill them yourself. For the first butt, drill a hole at the top for the diverter’s hose to enter. For the second butt, drill another hole at a slight decline (just below) on the side facing the other butt, for the interconnecting hose.

Apply sealant or plumber’s tape around the threads of the taps and the holes for the hoses to ensure watertight connections.

Step 4 – Connecting the Water Butts

Connect one end of the flexible hose to the diverter kit, securing it with a hose clip. The other end will go into the top hole of the first water butt.

Use a piece of flexible hose to connect the two butts. Ensure the hose runs from the hole in the side of the first butt to the corresponding hole in the second butt. The hose should have a slight downward incline towards the second butt to facilitate gravity-fed water flow. Secure both ends with hose clips.

Step 5 – Final Adjustments

Before finalising, ensure the hose connecting the two butts has a clear, slight downward trajectory towards the second butt. This is crucial for ensuring water flows efficiently from the first butt to the second without any need for pumping.

After a rainfall or by pouring water into the first butt, observe how the water moves through the system. Water should flow from the first butt into the second seamlessly. Check all connections for leaks and adjust as necessary.

Step 6 – Maintenance Check

Periodically check the system for blockages, leaks, or any signs of wear and tear. Regular maintenance ensures your water butts perform optimally year-round.

Once everything is connected, it’s time to test your setup. Wait for rain or pour water into the first butt to simulate rainfall. Check that water flows from the first to the second butt and that there are no leaks at the connection points.

What If the Water Doesn’t Flow Between Butts?

If you find that water isn’t flowing between the two connected water butts, it can be due to a few common issues. Identifying and resolving these problems will ensure your rainwater harvesting system functions efficiently. Here’s what to check and how to fix the potential issues:

Check the Hose Incline

The hose connecting the two water butts should have a slight downward incline towards the second butt to allow gravity to facilitate the flow of water. If the incline isn’t sufficient or if the hose is level or inclined upwards, water won’t flow into the second butt.

Fix: Adjust the position of the second water butt or the hose to ensure there is a clear, slight downward trajectory towards the second butt. Sometimes, placing the second butt on a slightly lower surface or adjusting the hose length can create the necessary incline.

Inspect for Blockages

Debris, leaves, or dirt can block the hose, especially if the water from the roof flows directly into the butts without filtration. A blockage will prevent water from moving between the butts.

Fix: Disconnect the hose and flush it out with a strong water jet or use a long, flexible brush to clear the blockage. Consider installing a filter at the diverter or the entry point of the hose into the first butt to prevent future blockages.

Ensure Proper Hose Connections

If the hose isn’t properly connected to the butts or if there are leaks, water may not flow correctly between them.

Fix: Check the connections at both ends of the hose. Make sure the hose is securely attached and sealed with hose clips. If necessary, apply sealant or plumber’s tape to create a watertight seal around the connection points.

How Often Should You Clean Your Water Butts?

To ensure the quality of the water and to prevent blockages in your system, it’s essential to clean your water butts at least once a year. Remove any leaves, debris, and sludge that may have accumulated. It’s also a good practice to inspect and clean your gutters regularly to keep the water flowing freely into your butts.

Tips for Winterising Your Water Butts

In colder climates, it’s crucial to prepare your water butts for winter to prevent damage from freezing. Drain them in late autumn to avoid water freezing and expanding, which can crack the butts. Disconnecting the diverter kit during winter can also help prevent damage to your downpipes.

Can You Add More Than Two Water Butts?

Yes, you can expand your system by connecting additional water butts. The process is similar to connecting two; ensure each new butt is level with the others and use hoses and connectors to link them. This can significantly increase your rainwater harvesting capacity.

How Does This Practice Benefit the Environment?

Collecting and using rainwater reduces reliance on mains water, conserves a precious resource, and can help mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff. It’s a simple yet effective way to contribute to environmental sustainability and support your local ecosystem.

How Much Can You Expect to Spend?

The initial outlay for two water butts, a diverter kit, and connecting materials can vary, but it’s generally a cost-effective investment, especially when considering the savings on water bills over time. The cost will depend on the size and quality of the butts and the complexity of your setup. Absolutely. While there is an upfront cost, the long-term savings on water bills and the environmental benefits make connecting two water butts a wise and cost-effective choice for any gardener.

Conclusion

Connecting two water butts is a straightforward and rewarding project that offers significant benefits for your garden and the environment. With careful planning, the right tools and materials, and regular maintenance, you can create an efficient system that saves water and money. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, the steps outlined in this guide will help you set up a successful rainwater harvesting system that can be expanded as your needs grow. Embrace this sustainable practice today and make a positive impact on your garden and the planet.

Tips for Connecting 2 Water Butts Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Ensure a stable and level foundation for each water butt to prevent tipping and ensure efficient water flow!”

“Place your water butts in optimal locations for rainwater collection, ideally directly underneath a downpipe!”

“Create a slight downward incline between the butts to utilise gravity for water flow, adjusting the positioning as necessary!”

“Secure and seal all connections tightly with hose clips and waterproof sealant to prevent leaks and maximise water collection efficiency!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use water from my butts for all my garden needs?

Yes, rainwater is ideal for most gardening needs, including watering plants and lawns.

Do I need to treat the water in my water butts?

For garden use, treatment is generally not necessary. However, if water stands for a long time, consider using a natural cleaner to maintain water quality.

What should I do if my water butt overflows?

Consider installing an overflow pipe that directs excess water away from your house foundation or into another storage system.

Can I drink the water from my water butts?

It’s not recommended to drink rainwater collected in water butts without proper filtration and treatment due to potential contamination.

How can I prevent mosquitoes breeding in my water butts?

Ensure your butts are covered with a tight-fitting lid and consider using mosquito dunks that are safe for use in water butts.

How to Deal with Leaks in a Water Butt?

If you find leaks at the connection points, ensure the hose clips are tight and consider applying sealant or plumber’s tape around the connections for a watertight seal.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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