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Connecting a water butt to an irrigation system/ best water butt tap

I'm trying to set up an automated irrigation system for my pots, to be fed by a water butt and controlled by a timer. The idea being to keep garden pots alive while I'm away from home. I bought a Ward slimline water butt and Straight replacement tap, the packaging claims its is compatible with Hoselock products. The Hoselock tap connector does attach but once there is any pressure behind it i.e. an irrigation timer set in the off position, it leaks and i lose all my stored water.  Please could anyone advise how they have achieved either a water butt fed irrigation system, a water tight hose connection to their water butt or a water butt tap that is truly compatible.  Thank you !


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,680
    Try to track down exactly where it is leaking from, it could be the tap, connector or the timer. Which timer do you have? You might not have sufficient pressure for the timer to control flow properly, most require at least 0.5 bar to operate correctly which they will get from a mains fed system. The pressure in your system depends on the height of water in the butt and will be much lower.
  • The leak comes from the hoselock connector attached to the tap, from under the yellow sleeve, not the timer.  If I skip the timer and attach the hose (also using hoselock connector I get the same problem.  I think it's an incompatible tap /connector rather than lack of pressure. If the timer is set to the on position i.e. no pressure on the outlet side, there is no leak. I'd love to know what tap/hose connector combination others have used. Timer specs state compatible with 0.1bar pressure waterbutts
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,680
    Your timer should be fine with the pressure from the butt, older versions needed higher pressure to shut off the valve properly.
    Check the O-ring on the tap for damage. Maybe a brass connector would be a better fit.
  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 537
    edited August 2020
    I have one of these working successfully with a normal Wickes butt and the Kleber system, but far more simply ie no timer.

    Your leak looks like a poor connection as said. My experience with complicated connection on hoses is that they all hate working, and I am useless with them.

    But the AC1 timer is specced  to work at 0.1 bar pressure "with a water butt", but since 0.1 bar is nearly 1m of head (1 bar is approx 1 atmosphere ie 10m if you remember Physics at school) that means it may be questionable when you have less than 1m of water depth above the connection to the time as the pressure will be too low - which for most water butts would mean it is only promised to work for the top quarter of the volume, as they are about 1.5m deep and the outlet is always a bit above the bottom. So I don't see the benefit.

    Mine is set up with a normal hose pushed on the water butt tap nozzle, then a hose --> 6mm pipe converter off ebay for about £3-4 (pipe is 6mm external - 4mm internal), then the normal drip irrigation system. I use the Kleber one and it has about 25 outlets on it. My Wickes water butt is on a stand and also on a path slightly above garden level, but it waters my blueberry bushes in containers quite happily.

    The various nozzles are adjusted for each plant very roughly, and some have 2 or 3, such as new plants. And if I have it running it will run off a few gallons of water in 3-5 hours - so quite slow.

    If I leave it running it will keep going for several days. Presumably if I turned the tap on less on the butt it would keep going throughout a short holiday.

    I have a shallow ground level birdbath (18" plant pot saucer) in the run to give me a crude guess when the soil might be a bit drier when that is dry, and that lets me see how much water has come out of the 2 nozzles feeding it at a their current setting if I need an indication. Though I tend to just look how far the butt has gone down.

    So perhaps try taking the timer out, get a converter from hose -> your smaller pipe, and get a feel for how much water it uses. Then either leave on continuously at a low setting, or get a neighbour to put it on for an hour or two every second day.

    If you have valuable plants, I would say think about a few (home made?) self-watering pots as insurance. I am about to play with those for my younger blueberries that are new this year.

    If you like I can do a couple of piccies, and find where my converter came from.


    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    Does the timer have a male hozelock connector?  If so, try using a short section of hosepipe, connecting one end directly to a normal water butt tap (you can usually just push the hose on to those, securing with a hose clip if necessary) and with a standard female hozelock connector on the other end, to connect to the timer.  That should give you a better and more flexible connection.
    'Hozelock compatible' isn't a very precise term, as you've found.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Hi, the leak is from your straight tap, disconnect your connector. Use one or two layers of insulation tape around the tap where the rubber seal is, then reconnect your tap. Insulation tape is rubber based so it should stop the leak, those taps are notorious for leaks. Try one layer of tape first.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,052
    When I had a similar system, some years ago now, I used BobTheGardener’s method, with a short length of hosepipe between the water butt tap and the timer and it worked. If you scratch/rough up the plastic surface of the tap spout a bit, that helps the hose grip, then tighten your hose clip hand-tight but don’t over tighten as the tap will crack under the strain. 

    I always use Gardena connectors as I think the Hozelock ones are rubbish, they always leaked for me, whatever the set-up.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Hello I have read the comments about using a timer to divert from a water butt, and as someone who is technology challenges can someone please explain what I need to achieve this?

  • REMF33REMF33 Posts: 696
    I am tagging on here as I have a similar problem with my Quadgrow holiday watering kit. All the bits should work together as it's a dedicated kit, so I am fairly sure it's because I have not put the O ring in. I don't know where to put the O ring in! It doesn't say. I am waiting for an answer from Greenhouse Sensation.
    I will move onto trying to connect a system to a normal water butt next week! (Going a way for a few days. Luckily I didn't need to set this up for this as in theory, husband will be watering things and topping up the tanks.)
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,170
    The tap on my waterbutts are supposed to be compatible with hoselock style connectors,  but I  agree they leak. I tried everything, plumbers tape etc. In the end I did as Bob says push a short length of hose directly onto the tap, then use connectors from there.  Can't comment on the timer as I use mine off the mains. 
    AB Still learning

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