Friday, 8 January 2016

The Leaning Water Butt of Pisa

Well, maybe not of Pisa...

.. but it's certainly leaning!

This is what happens when your Client's lazy workmen lay lovely decorative brick pavers (like bricks but without the indented "frog" on the underside) to make a neat apron in front of the toolhouse door.. but fail to make a proper concreted edge for it.

They then plonked the water butt right on the very edge of the loose-laid brick pavers.

And is anyone surprised at the result? The weight of the water - which is conveniently 1kg per 1 litre, and it's a slimline 100 litre water butt, so you can do the maths yourself - pressed down on the pavers, there is no edge to stop them spreading, and whoopsadaisy, the whole thing starts to lean.

Worse, once a water butt starts to lean, it often over-fills, and the water then dribbles out of the lid (along with all the rainfall on top of it) and runs off the downhill side, so the earth under the spreading pavers gets extra erosion, offering less and less support to the pavers.

We all know where this is going to end, don't we!

If you are faced with one of these, the proper solution is to unplug the filler pipe so no more water goes in: use up the water in the butt, then lift it off the plastic stand. Move the stand out of the way, relay the pavers onto a concrete mix instead of onto sand, and if at all possible, concrete in a line of edging stones, to support them.

If you can't do all this, then the cheapo answer is to empty the butt as above, and find a single concrete slab that is big enough for the plastic stand. Put this under the stand, chock it up as necessary to get it level, then replace the butt, and reconnect the filler pipe. Be warned, however, that by doing this, you raise the butt by the thickness of the slab, so it might not fill properly.

This leaves you with the options of either having to excavate under the loose laid pavers (thus worsening their problem) to lower them by the thickness of the slab - or having to drill a new filler hole in the side of the butt. Both of these options are tiresome.

If you are lucky, you may find that the sinking of the pavers is more or less the same as the thickness of the slab, in which case everything will work perfectly: or, you might be able to adjust the section of the downpipe where the filler pipe originates: often they are quite loosely fitted, and you may be able to wedge the downpipe end of the pipe at the top of its range, so to speak, so that the water will flow again.

Honestly, where in the job description for "Gardener" did it say "Water Engineer"?!

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