Installing a plastic watt butt or rain tank is a fairly straightforward procedure which can be undertaken by anyone with basic DIY skills.
The tools normally required are a power drill, hacksaw, tape measure, spirit level. A screwdriver will be needed if you are erecting a wall-mounted butt.
You should also check that all the parts, screws, brackets and any fittings are there when your butt is delivered to ensure you can install it successfully.
Here are the steps involved to install a standard water butt beside a wall on your house, outbuilding or garage.
As mentioned previously, this procedure can vary slightly from one brand of water butt to another, but the various stages to fit one are usually quite similar. After a a period of use you may need to tighten the connection points on the butt with an adjustable spanner if they become loose - however, ensure you don't over-tighten or you could damage the threads.
Similarly, the procedure for fitting a wall-mounted butt can vary depending on the size and make of each product. However, the process basically involved fixing brackets to your exterior wall with screws and rawl plugs, after drilling suitable holes. The butt is then seated evenly onto the brackets.
The height of the brackets should be chosen to allow the base of the water butt to be approximately 50-60cms off the ground. This will allow adequate space to place a bucket below the butt to use the tap on the unit.
You may wish to consider installing a mesh guard over your gutter will help to keep the collected water clean and free of debris such as leaves, bird droppings, pesticides and general muck and dirt.
Cleaning the exterior of a plastic water butt is quite simple - unless you've not attended it for some time and it has become very grubby, with a heavy build-up of dirt and grime.
If this is the case, all that's needed is a bit of elbow grease to remove stubborn stains and then a blast with a garden hose, or better still, a jet hose.
It makes sense to give the exterior of a butt or rain barrel a quick wipe over on a regular basis to stop grime building up in the first place.
Some people clean the exterior of their water barrels with Jeyes fluid, while others opt for a more environmentally-friendly cleaning liquid. It's also important to clean the container lid thoroughly and to ensure that it maintains a good, tight fit.
It's good practice to empty your water butt completely every now and then to allow you to completely scrub out the interior and remove the sludge, algae and grime that builds up on the sides and bottom of the container.
Many people like to give their barrel a good clean as winter approaches when they are emptying it anyway to prevent the risk of ice forming, expanding, and then cracking or splitting the container.
The are various ecologically-sound products available to buy which are specifically made for cleaning the interior of water butts and enhancing the quality of the water. They contain non-toxic chemicals, so they are safe for children, wildlife and pets.
These liquid treatment products are great for preventing scum building up in a water butt and they also get rid of unpleasant odours and do a great job at keeping the rainwater in the butt free of algae and slime.
They are normally in liquid or tablet form and are able restore the natural balance in water by stimulating the micro-organisms found in rainwater. A one litre bottle will typically treat up to 20 standard-size water butts or barrels.
Among the most popular products is a liquid which contains organic biodegradable seaweed. Another popular choice is Hozelock Water Butt Treatment which can treat up to 6,400 litres of water. This product does a good job at prevent a build up of 'green water' and keeps water free of algae and slime.
These products liquids are usually very good at getting rid of smells in water butts and generally raising the quality of the water, even if you neglect your water butt and it's started to reach the stagnant stage.
Some cleaners can take a week or two to really take effect but, when they do, the quality of the water is usually significantly improved.
There's also the option to add water purification tablets to a butt to prevent the growth of algae during periods when there isn’t much movement of water into or out of the container.
You can also buy copper and silver disc which are placed in the tank and then proceed to mimic the germicidal properties of real industrial silver which is also used in hot tub filters and drinking water purifiers. These discs are good at reducing nitrates and bacteria levels and killing fungal micro-organisms and parasites.
If you own a water butt, keeping the water in it clean should be a priority - after all, you don't want to be giving your flowers and plants a poor quality drink that could be detrimental to their health and growth!