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Rain water from tar shingled roof  RSS feed

 
                            
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In Canada we have a lot of tar shingles, if I collect water off of that type of roof will the water be polluted?  If it is, would I have to make a biological water treatment system using reeds?

Has anyone ever tested the water coming off of a similar roof?

Rob
 
Ben Souther
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I have no data to back this up but, if I had to guess, I'd say that there would be more pollution  coming from a brand new roof than an older one.  I would also guess that unusual weather would affect the amount of pollution coming from your roof.  I picture a hotter than usual day melting the tar a little deeper than usual, or a real windy storm bending some of the shingles, causing small particles to break loose from them.  A long drought might mean more bird poop (we have a lot of seagulls where I am) so the next rain would have a higher concentration of that.

A lot of water pipes are made with similar materials to the shingles on your roof.
They're also made with copper, and PVC, and concrete so I wonder if the water coming off  some shingled roofs might actually be cleaner than the water from your tap.

I guess the only real way to know would be to have it tested.
 
paul wheaton
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Yes, that water is nasty.  If you aren't sure - taste it!

Mollison's book addresses this and has invented a contraption that throws out the first couple of gallons that will contain the dirtiest bits of water.
 
monica jenkins
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Location: Western Suburbs, Illinois
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What type of roof is optimal for collecting water? Are asphalt shingles ok? A local non-profit offers rain barrels and we are considering getting a few to catch water from our gutters - but I am hesitant about the quality of the water gathered from our roof. Is it good enough to use on vegetables? Would hate to make the investment and then find out it's not something safe to do.

We also have a mosquito issue here - not sure how that would be addressed if they could get into the barrells to lay their eggs. 
 
paul wheaton
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Metal roofs would be a good choice.

Asphalt shingles ...  I would be pretty hesitant.  I suppose if I set up a sand filter, I might feel better about it.

As for skeeters:  the barrels I've seen in use for this sort of thing and have skeeter screen on the top.
 
Leah Sattler
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monica_jenkins wrote:
but I am hesitant about the quality of the water


I could make the same statement about the water from our municipal system! That being said they certainly aren't ideal. Eventually we will be re roofing our home and building a garage using metal roofing. I am going to wait until that time to begin harvesting rain water. Maye this will help.

http://www.uoregon.edu/~hof/S01havestingrain/data.html
 
paul wheaton
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I think there is a new metal roofing that has solar electric stuff built in.  Would that be worth looking into?
 
Kelda Miller
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Tar/Asphalt Shingles, yup they make the water nasty.

I was about to install a catchment/garden watering system for some clients, and then realized they had the wrong roof. According to a local rainwater catchment group, that water should be used only at base of trees/shrubs, and not in the veggie garden.

But hey, that's still something.

Look to the future, replacing it sometime with a metal roof. The fancy green-painted ones are common for rainwater-collector-folks.
 
              
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Location: Seattle
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If you have flush toilets, you can use that nasty water for flushing, conserving your good water for the garden.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I have had rain barrels a long time & used asphalt-shingled roof run-off water I've collected to top off my (ornamental) fish ponds. I've seen no ill effects in the fish as a result of doing this, and I've been doing it for years. 2 of my 4 koi have lived here for 8 - 10 years. Of course the ponds are also topped off by sporadic rainfall (Oklahoma is either wet or dry, not much consistency!) & on occasion (when it's really dry) I'll have to dechlorinated water from the hose to top off the ponds. Roof run-off is not my only source of pond water. The frog population thrives in my backyard & treefrogs congregate around the rain barrels. I've used rain barrel water on house plants, annuals, perennials, etc. also seeing no problems. I wouldn't personally drink the water that's run off of any roof (bird poop, dead bugs/birds & all) unless it was filtered & purified in some way.
koi.JPG
[Thumbnail for koi.JPG]
 
Susan Monroe
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The age of your roof may affect the quality of your rain harvest, for better or worse.  The simplest thing would probably be to contact your local Cooperative Extension Office (find yours here: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ ) and ask them what you want to know, and ask who could do the kind of test you need.

Also keep in mind that if you have a garage, roofing it with metal would be a lot cheaper (esp if you did it yourself -- if I can do it, you can!).  Then run your collections from that roof instead.

Look in your Yellow Pages under 'Roofing MATERIALS'.  My local metal roofing materials supply will take your roof measurements and virtually sell you a kit, including instructions, for doing it yourself. Two or three people can usually do most of it in a day.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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great pic wenvan! sounds like your little backyard ecosystem is thriving!

sueinwa,  I'm glad to hear your experience with a metal roof. We will be doing our garage and house and must admit I had some trepidation, that eases my mind some.
 
Kelda Miller
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i just heard this weekend that portland has okayed Drinking water from asphalt roofs if it's gone through a lot of processing, including UV. So actually this factoid means nothing at all really, because pretty much any water can be drank after that.

Great to see the fish pic! I was just wondering if anyone was keeping fish to cut down on skeeters. I'm assuming yours are in the pond. I'd love to see some fish right in the barrels though, for those super small urban lots. (talk about stacking functions!)
 
Susan Monroe
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Can't you just toss a few goldfish into your barrels?  I hear that they're quite hardy for this part of the country.

Sue
 
Christian McMahon
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The best way to know is collect some roof water and have it tested. You can also put it under a microscope. I am sure you could filter out anything in the water with the proper filtration system in place.
 
Gary Wolfer
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I have an asphalt roof. I have metal gutters and downspouts. I installed a 3 55 gallon food grade plastic barrel system with a black plastic y in 3" upright over my downspout I cut in half. I slipped the y over the downspout and filled it in with foam spray in insulation. The bottom of the y has a screw in plug. and is about 2' from top to bottom the 1" y goes up then over to one of my barrels. Then I installed a pvc manifold at the bottom tieing all 3 barrels together and put a faucet in the center. They all equal out and fill together. The purpose of the y at the bottom of the downspout is the heavy impuritys drop to the plug at the bottom like gravel and leaves and dirt off the roof and clean water rises to the y and into the tanks. I then filter the collected water in a bucket filter system using a berkey black filter. Whenever I want drinking water I just take a clean milk jug or two out and fill them up and transfer to the berkey bucket system. I have cut my water bill in half and have 165 gallon capacity and can add more barrels whenever I wish. When the city water supply runs out I will still have drinking water for a couple months if it does not rain. If it does rain there could be enough to even flush the toilet and wash a few clothes and dishes. Best move I have made in a while.
 
Carol Grosser
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When I thought my ground water was going, I contacted a professional installer for rain water. Turned out the problem with my ground water was because the property owner on the opposite hill to mine had hydraulic fracturing done. They started building the rain water system and I had the ground water tested to the tune of $500 the most I could afford. Since the industry uses up to 2,000 possible things in the process and they don't have to give anyone the formula used under the "proprietary" shield, you would have to test for 2,000 things. My ground water was extremely toxic with calcium so high it was even toxic much less the strontium and lead, etc., etc. I drank that water for a year. I had to take a thyroid replacement for a year because of the endocrine effects from it and my goats went into unnatural heat--i.e., right after birthing in the spring. The offspring were born blind with no irises or still born.

At any rate, my roof is the modern shingle roof, but my installer put in a 3-cartridge filter system and a UV light. I have guinea fowl that occasional fly onto the roof! I have been drinking that water and I always put 3 or 4 quarts freshly drawn on my counter. It is always clear and delicious.

In the event of electrical grid collapse that would stop flow because of the circulation and pressure pump not available, the installer put a hose connector on the low pipe going from the rain harvest tank of 2,500 gallons and the rest of the way to the house. That water wouldn't be filtered or UVed, but it is there for emergencies and I am glad to have it. Not all of my roof is collecting the water and I can put more gutters to collect more, but right now, even with three 2,500-gallon tanks there is always overflow into my goldfish pond ( a very large galvanized steel stock tank) where my border collie swims for cooling down in the summer. There is no overflow stand pipe. In Texas, there are rarely large rains, mostly small rains and these rains are all collected as well as condensation. I use my water very carefully even still and my 3 tanks are always full. I have one turned off to flow to the house and I use the other 2. I probably should turn off the 2nd one, as I am only drawing from the third.

I have a 50-gallon trash can collecting on the V of the opposite side of the house which is not currently collecting rain water for harvesting and I do get mosquitoes there. I have to put that in covered containers for use to water fruit trees.

My installer said I could put in many more 2,500 gallon tanks on the current system. I would like to do this but I probably won't get it done any year soon as I have so many needs. But I am very glad I put in that rain-harvest system. Pure rain water in the house system is heavenly. No calcium buildup in any heated water.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Some roofs that collect water have a diverter which allows the first few gallons of rain to bypass the storage. Most bird poop and other pollutants are washed away in the first few minutes of rain.

I would never drink from an asphalt roof. The best choice for drinking water from a roof would be to use EPDM pond liner with soil and plants. Not a cheap or easy retrofit but the only choice for me.
 
Gary Wolfer
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Personally I would never drink any rainwater unless it was filtered. I use a Berkey Black filter in a 2 plastic bucket system to filter my drinking water. I just draw it from a spiquet at the manifold below my 3 barrels. The water in them smell like pickle juice as that was stored in them previously but after I filter them the water it has absolutely no smell or pickle taste.
 
Carol Grosser
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I guarantee if one has a choice between hydraulic fractured water and rain water from a Corning roof with filters and UV light, the best choice is the rain water! There is no filter known to humankind that will take out all of the possible 2,000 toxic chemicals in that brew of greed.
 
Gary Wolfer
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I concur rainwater would have to be better than contaminated ground water but filtering although not perfect is better for both. I cannot speak for what I cannot see but my rainwater or tapwater after filtering is clear and has no obnoxious odors. and the residue in the top bucket that does not go thru the filter tells the story. I think silver in the bottom of the filtered bucket is good too.
 
Peter DeJay
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I also would never drink water from a tar shingled roof, unless we were years into some apocalyptical future. With a choice between drinking water from a known carcinogenic medium (asphalt shingles) or from a highly toxic water source (hydro fracking) I would not live there. Even if I had to walk away from my house.

Clay tiles are probably the best potable rain catchment surface, followed by slate, then maybe one of the faux slates along with concrete, then metal. Cedar shakes, while certainly a green material, are not recommended for rain catchment, unless its just for irrigation.
 
ashanti Fox
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There are many kinds of roof but the point here is you have to keep the maintenance of it.For you own good if you have time try to inspect your roof if its in good condition but if you have leaking roof try to fix or install a new one.
 
Lm McWilliams
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It's sad to see people pull slate roofs off of old houses. Nothing else will last as long. And the rainwater
from a slate roof should be good. Water off a tile roof should also be good.
 
Lucy Elder
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ravis Hatfield wrote:In Canada we have a lot of tar shingles, if I collect water off of that type of roof will the water be polluted?  If it is, would I have to make a biological water treatment system using reeds?

Has anyone ever tested the water coming off of a similar roof?

Rob


I caught water for many years (until Chernobyl) off a slate tiled roof but it was not suitable for drinking. Useful though for watering and when there was a lot of rain it was clean enough for washing. Smoke from my chimneys added to the pollution content but the ashes were probably good for the plants..
 
Lm McWilliams
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Lucy Elder wrote:I caught water for many years (until Chernobyl) off a slate tiled roof but it was not suitable
for drinking. Useful though for watering and when there was a lot of rain it was clean enough for washing. Smoke
from my chimneys added to the pollution content but the ashes were probably good for the plants..


Interesting. Of course the quality of the rain is something we always need to keep in mind. Not just Chernobl, but
later the Japanese nuclear disaster- and industrial pollution. But it sounds like the slate roof was not contributing to
the pollution in the water off that roof, right? Unlike asphalt shingles, which add a depressing list of contaminates to
the water coming off a roof covered in them. (Not to mention the pollution created during their manufacture and
disposal, in stark contrast to slate.)

Anyone here collecting water from a tile roof?

An aside: we were startled to learn that wood shingles in our climate last at least as long as asphalt. NOT suitable for dry
climates with a high fire risk, of course! In this region wood shingles are typically made from Eastern white cedar, but
apparently other woods can work, too. Bonus: they can be made by hand on the farmstead. There are some interesting
videos on YouTube on this topic. Much more renewable than asphalt shingles.

(Further off topic, I recently heard that a renewed interest in traditional thatched roofs in England has created a market for
straw grown organically, or at least without chemical nitrogen fertilizer, since that straw has proven to last significantly longer.
But water reed (Phragmities australis) from waters not polluted with fertilizer run-off can last up to 60 years- according to
The Thatch Company in the UK. Any asphalt shingles rated for that long?

Sorry if this info is available elsewhere; havn't yet had the time to read all the topics in detail.)

 
Lucy Elder
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I catch water of a terracotta tile roof here in rural Bulgaria. Again suitable for watering, hair rinsing, dogs, washing when there is a lot of rain to keep running it through. Maybe the prob is standing water. often collects algae etc as well as pollutants. I use rough filters but nothing fancy. If you could catch the water in a contaminant proof vessel it might help. I've used wooden barrel, plastic bidons and metal to date.




Lm McWilliams wrote:
Lucy Elder wrote:I caught water for many years (until Chernobyl) off a slate tiled roof but it was not suitable
for drinking. Useful though for watering and when there was a lot of rain it was clean enough for washing. Smoke
from my chimneys added to the pollution content but the ashes were probably good for the plants..


Interesting. Of course the quality of the rain is something we always need to keep in mind. Not just Chernobl, but
later the Japanese nuclear disaster- and industrial pollution. But it sounds like the slate roof was not contributing to
the pollution in the water off that roof, right? Unlike asphalt shingles, which add a depressing list of contaminates to
the water coming off a roof covered in them. (Not to mention the pollution created during their manufacture and
disposal, in stark contrast to slate.)

Anyone here collecting water from a tile roof?

An aside: we were startled to learn that wood shingles in our climate last at least as long as asphalt. NOT suitable for dry
climates with a high fire risk, of course! In this region wood shingles are typically made from Eastern white cedar, but
apparently other woods can work, too. Bonus: they can be made by hand on the farmstead. There are some interesting
videos on YouTube on this topic. Much more renewable than asphalt shingles.

(Further off topic, I recently heard that a renewed interest in traditional thatched roofs in England has created a market for
straw grown organically, or at least without chemical nitrogen fertilizer, since that straw has proven to last significantly longer.
But water reed (Phragmities australis) from waters not polluted with fertilizer run-off can last up to 60 years- according to
The Thatch Company in the UK. Any asphalt shingles rated for that long?

Sorry if this info is available elsewhere; havn't yet had the time to read all the topics in detail.)

 
Lm McWilliams
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Hi Lucy Elder,

geoff lawton talks about algae in water storage tanks, and says that a small amount of green
algae in water storage tanks or barrels is actually a good thing. He says the algae helps purify
the water by consuming the small amounts of organic matter in the rainwater. Have you seen
the video where he talks about this?

Geoff also talks about how heavy metal contaminants do not dissolve in rainwater (or any water)
with a high enough pH. He also talks about using limestome, dolomite, or even oyster shells to
raise the pH of the rainwater if it is too low; having the tap high enough on the tank to allow
particulates/contaminants to fallout, etc.

I don't have any experience with storing rainwater for any length of time, as we are blessed
with ample and regular rainfall, but we want to make the best use of every resource.

I've also wondered if terracotta tiles are still being made in the USA, or if all the 'roof tiles' are
now concrete (which strike me as much less eco-friendly).

Best wishes-
 
Lucy Elder
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Lm McWilliams wrote:Hi Lucy Elder,

Geoff Lawton talks about algae in water storage tanks, and says that a small amount of green
algae in water storage tanks or barrels is actually a good thing. He says the algae helps purify
the water by consuming the small amounts of organic matter in the rainwater. Have you seen
the video where he talks about this?

Geoff also talks about how heavy metal contaminants do not dissolve in rainwater (or any water)
with a high enough pH. He also talks about using limestome, dolomite, or even oyster shells to
raise the pH of the rainwater if it is too low; having the tap high enough on the tank to allow
particulates/contaminants to fallout, etc.

I don't have any experience with storing rainwater for any length of time, as we are blessed
with ample and regular rainfall, but we want to make the best use of every resource.

I've also wondered if terracotta tiles are still being made in the USA, or if all the 'roof tiles' are
now concrete (which strike me as much less eco-friendly).

Best wishes-


Geoff, thanks for that info. I cant watch youtube videos here as the elec cuts out but what you mention makes sense and is useful to know.

Wishing you luck locating real terracotta tiles. They are lovely. My house burned down but I recycle the tiles in all sorts of ways - including spark-proofing the chimney on my yurt. The tapwater here is very full of lime so catching the rain for s different source is good.
 
Andrea Wisner
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Could asphalt shingles be coated with something, like no-voc acrylic, to make the roof more suitable for rain water catchment? How about a lime wash?
 
Andrea Wisner
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Actually just found both discussed in another threadhttps://permies.com/t/29728/lime-asphalt-shingle-roof-affects#486527
 
Angelika Maier
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HOw about to test the water? The first flush and then a second flush thereafter? It does not cost all that much.
 
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