A water butt is subject to enormous loads from wind and weather, UV radiation and, last but not least, the water itself. But not all damage leads to uselessness. Small cracks in rain barrels are easy to repair.

material and procedure

Of course, there is the image of a typical rain barrel that most people see in their minds. In reality, however, things look a little different. In fact, there are countless different types of construction, as well as various “misused” objects that have to be used to store rainwater for garden irrigation. A few materials are particularly common:

  • Plastic (mainly polyethylene PE)
  • Less common: glass fiber reinforced plastic
  • metal (aluminum or sheet iron)
  • wood

Depending on the material found, the procedure with which you can mend tears or smaller holes will of course also differ.

Metal container

A water butt made of metal is considered to be particularly durable and resistant. It is also extremely robust and resistant. However, the effort involved in repairing the rain barrel is also comparatively high. Basically, there are two ways to mend cracks in metal containers with the possibilities of a DIY workshop:


Probably the most obvious is the sealing of the cracks with a soldered seam. With proper processing, a permanent closure is created that does not represent a weak point even in the long term. In contrast to welding, however, hot soldering can also be carried out without any problems.


  • Light bulb
  • Lot
  • flow agent
  • solvents or cleaning spirit
  • Drahtbürste
  • Protective varnish with a brush or roller
  • safety goggles and protective gloves
Note: Make sure the solder you use matches the metal of the water butt. In addition, the solder thickness must match the power of the blowtorch. If in doubt, ask your retailer about compatible components.


  • empty bin
  • Clean crack area, brush off any rust and degrease with solvent
  • Wet the crack with flux
  • Hold solder and heat with blowtorch to melting point
  • Seal the crack completely and without gaps with solder
  • After curing and cooling down, apply a protective top coat

Put on “patches”.

A simpler variant for tin barrels, which can also be done without soldering skills, is to put on a patch. Cover the cracks with a separate sheet and insert a rubber seal to ensure tightness.


  • Piece of sheet metal, size on all sides approx. 1cm beyond the size of the crack
  • Drill with metal drill, approx. 4 – 6 millimeters
  • Screws with washers and nuts, suitable for the drill hole size, ideally stainless steel
  • Tin-sized rubber, about 2 millimeters thick
  • Drahtbürste
  • solvents or cleaning spirit
  • Protective varnish with a brush or roller


  • empty bin
  • Clean crack, derust and degrease
  • Apply protective varnish to the area to be covered
  • Provide cover sheet with holes, at least at the corners, with long cracks also in between
  • Transfer holes to barrel and drill through there as well
  • Place the rubber on the sheet metal and pierce holes in the rubber (do not punch out!)
  • Push the screws through from the inside
  • Slide on the rubber on the outside and cover with the cover sheet
  • Slide on the washers and unscrew the nuts
  • Tighten the screw connections until the rubber is pressed against all sides
Note: Make sure there are enough holes to press on the seal. If the distances are too large, there is no contact pressure and the water pressure in the barrel, which is caused by the water column, can lead to leaks in the long run!

wooden barrels

Old beer or wine barrels in particular are used again and again as a stylish, almost nostalgic variant of a rain barrel. The special challenge here lies in the fact that the natural material wood is not static, but also changes, especially with changes in humidity and temperature. Almost every dried-out wooden barrel has cracks. But you don’t have to fix them first. You should only patch leaks if water continues to escape after filling and a sufficiently long swelling time for the wood.


  • Hemp, eg special dense hemp from the sanitary trade
  • Flat screwdriver, alternatively spatula with a flat, straight blade
  • Hammer


  • Bundle hemp fibers and twist into a tight strand
  • Length and thickness slightly larger than cracks to be sealed
  • Press the hemp strand into the respective crack with a screwdriver or spatula
  • Finally, hit the hemp with a screwdriver and hammer
  • If necessary, work another strand into the crack
Tip: Many people want to grease the natural material hemp before repairing it to protect the fibers from the water in the rain barrel. Do not do this, as you will deprive hemp of its essential property: untreated hemp absorbs water and swells. In this way, the sealing function is reinforced again.

plastic bins

Probably the most common form of rain barrel is the plastic barrel. It is cheap, durable and easy to use. In most cases, however, it is made of the weather and UV-resistant plastic polyethylene, or PE for short. This material allows two basic approaches to patching cracks:


If a crack doesn’t open up, it’s particularly easy to repair it in a plastic rain barrel by simply gluing the damage together. Choosing the right adhesive is important. Because common plastic adhesives dissolve the material and weld it together so that it is particularly resilient and permanent. The wrong adhesive can destroy the plastic of the bin due to the solvents it contains. It is also possible that the necessary adhesion is not generated on the smooth, non-porous surface. In both cases the repair is unsuccessful.


  • Suitable plastic adhesive for PE
  • soapy water and rags


  • Empty the bin and wait for it to dry out
  • Thoroughly clean the crack area
  • Apply glue generously
  • If necessary, insert into the crack with a spatula, toothpick or similar
  • Wait for the flash-off and curing times according to the manufacturer’s instructions


PE is a thermoplastic material. This means that when exposed to heat, it softens and later even becomes liquid. This property can be used to effectively repair cracks in the water butt without foreign adhesives or sealants.


  • Heat gun with narrow, focused nozzle
  • Spatula, wide screwdriver or similar tool
  • soapy water and rags


  • empty bin
  • Thoroughly clean the crack area
  • Heat the area around the damaged area slowly and evenly with a heat gun
  • Check the consistency regularly with a spatula
  • If there is sufficient deformability, press the material of the wall evenly into the crack from all sides and smooth the surface inside and out
  • Allow the plastic to cool down completely and harden

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