Andy Hawkins

+ Follow
since Jan 17, 2012
Merit badge: bb list bbv list
For More
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Andy Hawkins

Hi there,

this will be our first year of gardening. We have a small raised bed but we want to grow some potatoes. We found 6 old tires in the basement of the property we bought and I'm wondering if we can't stack them in two piles of 3 or 3 piles of 2 and plant potatoes in them. Anyone know if this is a good or terrible idea?
Hi folks, we have our rainwater catchment setup and collecting rain at a rate that's way higher than we ever imagined, which is phenomenally cool.
Our current setup is metal roof > PVC eavestrough and downspouts > food-grade rain barrel (ex maple syrup) > 40 gallon first flush > 4 x 1000L IBC totes > Sediment filter > faucets etc.
I have two questions.
Firstly, we currently have all 4 totes feeding into our system at the same time. Water enters 2 of the totes and then it self levels across all 4. Should we be cycling the totes to prevent holding water in any single tote for any length of time? I was thinking of closing one or two totes off from the system and emptying the others before turning the empty ones off and then feeding off the full ones. Would this be a good idea tp pursue or should we just let the levels "bounce" across all four totes?
Secondly, the water has an ever so slight "taste" to it, my g/f uses the words "oily" and "gasoline" although I wouldn't describe it that way, however, there is definitely a taste, not super strong but it's there. We sanitized the totes and the rain-barrels with baking soda before use but I'm wondering if there isn't some kind of coating on the roof that might be behind this. We tried putting some special "sock" style filters on our downspouts but the water just backed up way too far for this to be an option. Any suggestions?
We do have an RO unit that we will most likely be installing once we get our kitchen built, would that resolve the issue?
2 years ago
Our lot is too small to have a septic field, so we have a 1000 gallon holding tank for our greywater waste and a composting toilet. Does anyone know if its ok/safe/a good idea, to periodically, in good weather, to open the lid of the holding tank a little for the purposes of allowing some of the greywater to evaporate? Not sure if it would even make a dent but given the condensation on the underside of the lids when we take them off to check levels there's obviously some evaporation going on.
2 years ago
So last night we captured 700 litres of fresh rainwater. Most of it went into one tote but there was room so no biggie. I opened the valve on the other tote this morning to equalize the levels and that worked like a charm. But it made me realize 2 things. 1.) We need more totes. Our roof is only 1/3 finished so we're only capturing a fraction of what we will be when it's all finished, and 2.) It would be nice to have some kind of alarm that let's us know when we're getting full.

Has anyone got any suggestions for an alarm?
3 years ago
Not much in the way of an update yet but here's some additional information.

The roof is a brand new metal roof with a powder coated finish (I think, either way its coloured from the manufacturer).
The rainwater flows from the roof into white plastic eavestroughs, down white plastic downspouts and into rainbarrels that were previously used to ship maple syrup. Then it flows through black poly pipe into two 1000L IBC totes which were previously used in the dairy industry and are food grade. They were filled with 1000L of water each and a kilo of baking soda was stirred into each one. They were then left for a minimum of 24 hours and then emptied. They were kept out of the sun from the day we got them.

We have added a fitting to our plumbing that will allow us to connect a hosepipe to the water and transfer it all from one tote to the other. The plan is to hose down each tote in turn as well as the rain barrels to make sure there is no residual baking soda clinging to the insides of anything. Given the ambient temperature around here at the moment I suspect any residual baking soda is having an issue dissolving but continued rain collection and the rinsing previously described will help bring the pH down over time. We're not planning on doing much with the water for the time being beyond running the dishwasher and washing machine with it. Once the pH gets down to a more normal level we'll test it for consumption. Til then I'll post updates as I complete the steps mentioned above. Thanks everyone for all your input, its very much appreciated.
3 years ago
Been doing some research on RO systems today. We purchased a used one a few months back with a plan to use it in our rainwater catchment system to help clean up our drinking water. My thinking was that more filtration etc is better. Now I'm seeing that there is a lot of waste water created in the RO process and as we're feeding into a holding tank I'm obviously keen to keep waste down as much as possible.

Can I just let the RO waste go back into our 2000L storage system? My thinking is that it would get so diluted that it would cease to be a problem. Given that the water in our two 1000L totes gets used for the washing machine, the dishwasher, bathing and pottery, a relatively small portion would actually end up being used for cooking and drinking and therefore shouldn't be an issue.

Any ideas?
3 years ago

Eric Hanson wrote:Andy,

I suppose that if alkalinity were a problem you could add just a little vinegar and check the ph again.  Is alkaline water going to be a problem?  Rainwater is naturally slightly acidic, so if the problem is caused by baking soda, the problem may resolve itself over time.

Please, let me know your thoughts,


Hi Eric,

To be honest we're so new to this that I'm just trying to be very careful. I've read that drinking water should have a pH of no higher than 8. It's entirely possible that undissolved baking soda could be the issue and the more it gets diluted the lower the pH will get. It's also possible that the pH of the rain is high. I'll know more on that tomorrow when I catch some fresh rain and test it. I'm not even sure that running high pH water through the pump and sediment filter won't damage the equipment itself. Now I've seen the online fads about drinking alkaline water but even those only have a pH of 8 or 9, so we're currently way past that.

One thing I've learned is that for the first 49 1/2 years of my life I took running water and drinkable water very much for granted. Now that we're in a spot that is too small for a well and we're having to collect rainwater I'm really starting to appreciate the whole turn-on-the-tap-and-out-comes-the-water thing that "normal" people enjoy.
3 years ago

wayne fajkus wrote:Have you checked ph of rainwater separate from what is in the storage tank?

It does not sound alarming to me. I would not drain it considering it is only being used for laundry. I don't have the benefit of the rain you have though. It could be weeks for another rain. That plays a factor.

not yet, we're due more rain tomorrow so will catch and test some then.
3 years ago
So we have a metal roof that feeds into two old maple syrup barrels. Each barrel has a sizeable first flush allowance and then a pipe coming out the side that takes the water down into two 1000L IPC totes in our basement. Both totes, prior to getting them into the basement were filled with water and a kilo of baking soda added and left for at least 24 hours to steralize before draining them out and getting them into the basement where they have been kept out of the sun while we worked on the adding new floors to our building. We now have waste plumbing in place for our kitchen sink and our washing machine and are about to get the pump connected to feed cold water to both of these things. Initially we'll just be using the water for laundry. We want to bring uses on board one at a time out of an abundance of caution. To this end we purchased a simple pH test kit and before we connected up the pump and sediment filter, and ran a test on the water. Turns out its very much on the alkaline side of things, somewhere between 10 and 11. My questions are;

1. What would cause the alkalinity of the water? (My suspicion is there is left over baking soda in the tote and a thorough rinsing might solve the issue, but could it be something else?)
2. Is there a way to reduce the alkalinity and make the water more neutral?

As it stands at the moment I'm envisioning a point where I put a hosepipe on the washing machine cold water feed and just run the current supply outside then rinse and repeat until the pH returns to something more neutral. As I've said we have 2 totes so we can drain and flush one at a time or move all the water into a single tote if necessary. Thanks in advance for your advice.
3 years ago
Thanks everyone. The roof is a new metal roof so shingle breakdown isn't an issue, I was just worried about the potential for pathogens to end up on the roof and therefore into our water supply. We're in Nova Scotia.
3 years ago