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Water Collecting in Butts

A few years ago when the government first started about increasing their water tax by installing meters in everyone house I decided that I was going to go self reliant. Unfortunately, its not as easy as that but you can help yourself reduce your usage a little by capturing as much water as you can.

I have the main house roof and the garage roof that can be used to capture water. These have downspouts that lead to drains. The house downspouts feed into drain holes while the garage roof simple feeds into the soil.

I simply routed each of the garage roof downspouts into a large water butt each. Letting the excess overflow out of the top into the ground. On each of the down spouts on the house I installed a diverter which redirects the water at a controlled rate to the butt, the rest going down the spout, until the butt is full where all the water is fed directly into the spout. I have found that the butts fill up very quickly and even though I have five large butts almost all of the water that passed through the spouts goes to waste.

To use the butts you simply fill buckets up or attach a hose to the tap at the bottom. Even though the butts are large they will drain quickly especially if you are using a hose although if you water sparingly you can use this water to ensure that none of your plants die and those that need water gets it.

That is a basic set up and is usually what most people do while they do their bit for water conservation or look at reducing their water bill if they are on a water meter.

The next stage though is to increase the capture rate and collect more water. Although you can put more downspouts on easily enough unless you have a roof surface that is not being captured then it is easier to simply daisy chain your butts together. You can purchase these extension kits and they are installed simply by drilling a hole in the existing butt attaching the hose and then attaching it at the same level to your new butt. The water flows into the first as normal and when it reaches the hose it flows into the second butt until it reaches the hose level where after they will remain at the same level. Water can be extracted from either butt via the tap although it is possible for one butt to be empty will another full if the water level in both is below the hose.

This gives you two ways to connect the hose between the butts. One near the top and slightly below the input hose. It must be below the input hose as, if set up correctly, water will not go above this level and will be unable to flow into the new butt. The second way is near the bottom.

With the hose at the top if a hose or a seal leaks you can still use the setup and it fills the butt connected to the downspout first followed by the next in line. If a tap or butt leaks then that as if that butt is not there. You need to change taps to access the water if one butt is drained.

With the hose at the bottom the butts will fill and drain together. When the butt is empty then they all are. This means you only need to use one tap. If a leak happens in any of the hoses, seals, butts or taps then everything drains.

I’ll be attaching my hoses at the top. One of the things I have found is that taps are the weakest link. After a few uses they won’t seal and simply drip. Attaching a hose and using the hose tap, much better quality, will allow you to seal the leak. Make sure you store some spare taps.

Bear in mind that this linking is not limited to an additional butt but can be as many as you can fit in the space you have. The more butts the more water you have for use. Water being one of our most important resources.

Now this water may be great for the plants but it is not ideal for our use. The crap that is on the roof, bird poo, dead leaves, dead bugs, industry exhaust, etc. is washed down the roof into the gutters and then taken into the butts. This is not drinking water and should not be used untreated. I use mine exclusively for the garden at this time but after an event I have plans, and material, to build a water filter. To this end you need as many water butts as you can fit onto your property. You can’t have too many. Oh, and keep them low profile, OPSEC remember.

2 comments to Water Collecting in Butts

  • JD1

    Thats a good point about having the linkages at the top. I have a couple of Butts linked at the top but it never even crossed my mind that if they were at the bottom all the butts could drain out if there was a leak


  • Skean Dhude


    Sometime you just don’t think about the impact of things. You see being able to seal up taps and use one only but the downside isn’t obvious. Thats why we need to share our knowledge.

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