How to install a water butt

How to install a water butt

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Installing a water butt is an economical and environmentally friendly way to water your garden. Designed to connect to your downpipe via a rainwater diverter, these systems are used to collect and store rainwater. Read on for our step-by-step guide to installing a water butt.

Important features

  • Setting up your water butt
  • Marking out your connections
  • Drilling the downpipe
  • Drilling your screw holes
  • Installing the water butt
  • Connecting the downpipe to the water butt
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Why install a water butt?

Water is a precious resource and one that is becoming increasingly scarce with intensive water use making the water table drop all over the world. The price of water is constantly rising and drought restrictions are becoming more and more common. Using rainwater for certain tasks can help to limit the burden on mains water supplies and decrease your water bill if you have metered water. What's more, rainwater doesn't contain any additives like chlorine or fluoride which are often added to public water supplies. It is pure and also slightly acidic which makes it ideal for plants!

Please note that rainwater is not potable. Rainwater can be used around the house but cannot be consumed. If you do want to collect rainwater to drink, you will need to set up a special regulation rainwater harvesting system in addition to your regular water network. Regular water butts, on the other hand, couldn't be easier to install: you simply need some space around your downpipe to connect the rainwater diverter. Otherwise, you just need a bit of patience and diligence when it comes to installation! As long as you are not feeding the water into your home there are no legal restrictions on installing a water butt so you're free to fit your system whenever you like. To help you get started, here's our step-by-step guide to installation.


  1. Setting up your water butt

  2. Marking out your connections

  3. Drilling the downpipe

  4. Installing the water butt

  5. Connecting the downpipe to the water butt

Required skills

Required skills

You don't need any particular skills to install a water butt beyond some basic DIY knowledge. In short, if you're able to put up your own shelves, you shouldn't have any trouble installing a water butt!

Please note that these instructions apply to a specific model of rainwater diverter that is designed to plug directly into your downpipe. That said, most rainwater diverters will require similar steps for installation.

Time required

Completion time

1 hour

Number of people required

Number of people required

1 person

Tools and equipment

Tools and equipment
  • A Phillips screwdriver

  • A drill

  • A hole saw

  • A spirit level

  • A pencil

  • A file or sandpaper

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Please note: this is a non-exhaustive list; be sure to match your personal protective equipment to the job at hand.

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1. Set up your water butt


Work out the best position for your water butt. The distance between the water butt and the downpipe must not exceed the length of the rainwater diverter which will be used to connect the two. The ground must be even and perfectly level. You can check this using a spirit level.

2. Mark out your connections

2. Verbindungsstellen einzeichnen

Ensure that the rainwater diverter is able to reach the top of the tank from position you have chosen. Use a spirit level to mark out where the connector will reach the water butt. Make sure that this line is centred exactly where the connector will be installed. 

Next, mark out a line at the same level on your downpipe. Make sure that these points are perfectly aligned. This will help to ensure that the water butt can work as an overflow to allow excess water to drain away through the downpipe when the water butt is full. If your spirit level isn't long enough, place a plank of wood or a small straight edge between the water butt and the pipe and place your spirit level on top to check that everything is level. You can then use a pencil to draw your lines onto the water butt and pipe.

3. Drill into the downpipe

3. Loch in Fallrohr bohren

Attach a hole saw attachment to your drill ensuring that the diameter matches that of the rainwater diverter socket. Check that the hole saw bit is compatible with the pipe materialthis may be metal or PVC. Use the pilot drill of your hole saw to centre the drill on the line you have marked out and start drilling. Repeat the same process on the water butt if required. Use a file or sandpaper to file down the edges of the holes. Turn the water butt upside down to get rid of any shavings from inside the tank.

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4. Install the water butt

4. Regensammler anschließen

Insert the rainwater diverter into the hole you have made in your downpipe. Next, drill a couple of pilot holes to fit your screws and secure this part. Be sure to use the correct bit size; your holes should be slightly smaller than your screws. Insert the connector attachment into the rainwater diverter (this is the part used to fit the flexible connector to the water butt) Secure this using screws and a screwdriver.

If the kit comes with a mounting ring, press this into place at the top of the water butt. Next, spread some glue onto the other connector attachment and insert it into the ring. Be sure to check which way round the components go before you start installing as this will be different for every model. Read the instructions supplied with your kit if you are unsure.

5. Connect the downpipe to the water butt

5. Regentonne und Fallrohr miteinander verbinden

Install the flexible connector that runs between your water butt and downpipe and you're done!

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Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

For several years I have been running a garden service with a clientele of both individuals and companies. I manage a team of gardeners and ensure the creation and maintenance of green spaces. At the same time, I bring my expertise to my clients in terms of the maintenance and improvement of their gardens. In fact, as a trainee and working in the hospitality industry at the beginning of my career, I focused on landscaping in a local community where I acquired solid technical skills through in-house training and the follow-up of major projects in a rapidly changing town. On a personal level, I am equally oriented towards the art of gardening. With my wife, I created our garden from start to finish and I maintain it carefully, the same goes for the vegetable garden. As for DIYing, it’s not to be outdone. Yes, gardening is also tinkering: pergolas, huts, pavements, fences, and so on...There is always something to do in a garden. After working well together, my wife and I are proud of the result and delighted to be able to take full advantage of a friendly and warm environment. So, let us give you advice and help you in your choice of tools, maintenance, or the improvement of your garden, nothing could be simpler.

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