The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

United Kingdom Gb

I have a relatively new Oak water butt which is filled with rain water from a drain pipe diverter. The water in it has developed a foul, sulphorous smell and the surface of the water is covered in an grey fungal or algal bloom. Can you tell me what it is and advise me how to get rid of it please.




What was the oak barrel used for before you bought it ?

Have you a cover on the barrel to stop anything falling in (birds etc) as very little chance of getting out once anything falls in. Also keeps the sunlight out to stop any algae bloom also mosquitoes breeding in the water.

May be it just needs a good scrub out and then it will be fine ...

9 Jun, 2017


I agree, dump it. Give it a good scrubbing. Keep it covered.

9 Jun, 2017


Thanks guys, but alas you have not identified the likely cause or the solution. My water butt is covered. I'm afraid it's a more taxing problem than that. Empty it (any good ideas where to empty 36 gallons of foul smelling water?), Karcher it; start again is the default solution. What I'm really after is an explanation of the cause from someone familiar with the problem

9 Jun, 2017


I'm sure you'll find out, once you investigate the situation.

9 Jun, 2017


Is there any sort of screen to keep debris from coming down the drain into the butt? The smell and scum usually only form when there is organic debris, such as leaves, bugs, etc., in the bottom of the butt.

10 Jun, 2017


You can get foul smelling water in a butt when leaves come in through the down pipe and rot in the bottom. I found that if you can stand the smell its OK to use the water for general watering in the garden. If that turns out to be a factor you can fit some kind of guard at the top of your down pipe to keep them out.

Sorry Tug, we crossed there...

10 Jun, 2017


'Sallright! Great minds, and all! :)

10 Jun, 2017


Something must be rotting in the barrel

10 Jun, 2017

How do I say thanks?

Answer question


Not found an answer?