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Hello and HELP!

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  • Hello and HELP!

    Hi, Apologies in advance for the long post! I have been using my hotbin for around 3/4months, I keep the temperature gauge stuck in the top of the compost and since it first hit the green spot, not long after first use, it has maintained the correct temperature, also I could feel a real sauna-like heat when opening the lid. However the past couple of weeks or so it has struggled to reach the green zone, and it is starting to smell bad, and the contents seemed a bit wet. Up until this point I have only drained out the leachete (?) once and got a cupful so thought I would do it again, again around a capful, but I then tipped the bin forward and loads then came out, enough to fill a squash bottle. As the bin was almost full I thought perhaps that the problem was that it needed emptying, so have just opened the door to have a look. None of what I can see looks fully composted, not even the bottom layer, and it is all very wet. I have dug out the bottom four inches and it is full of the small twigs that I put in initially, the rest had decomposed to various degrees, but it is all very wet, although not at all smelly. As I emptied the bottom layer all the rest started to fall down and that was a bit smelly, I’ve had to quickly put back the door and straps. I looked on the website FAQ’s and they say that if my household waste has a lot of fruit/veg (which it does) that it can be too wet, but also that if that is the case the bin won’t reach temperature, but the bin HAS been reaching temperature. Also I use shredded paper and chipped bark. So should I have been emptying the sump more often? If so is that the reason everything is so wet? And more to the point, how do I rectify it, what do I so with a hotbin full of wet half composted waste? I’m feeling very disheartened as I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do 🤷🏼‍♀️ Thanks in advance Viv.

  • #2
    I think you are doing everything correctly. Do not be disheartened.

    Remember that it is the upper layers of the compost that get hot. So, when you originally start your HotBin, what you put in first will be at the bottom, the coolest area. Also, during the three to four months you have been using your HotBin all of the moisture that is not evaporated will flow down through the cool bottom layer. Your experience, I think, is perfectly normal The material behind the hatch will not have been subjected to high temperatures and will have suffered the onslaught of moisture from the material above.

    To get the high temperature treated material may take several cycles of emptying through the hatch.

    Be patient, your account shows that everything is going well and you will get the good stuff soon.

    I would check that the bin is level or perhaps sloping forward a little to make sure the leachate is reaching the front of the sump and not at the back. Too much leachate in the sump can reduce the amount of air being admitted at the base.


    • Vivha
      Vivha commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you. Since I posted I have feed the bin with what I took out from the bottom layer mixed with plenty of shreaded paper and bark, and by the next day the temperature was soaring past the green area! Two days later I fed it again with the rest of the bottom layer, and it is still good and hot. Also I have managed to empty even more leachate from the sump,
      and have tried as you suggest to correct the level of the bin - I have it slightly raised off the ground on a low trolley, but the patch of ground that it is on isn't all that even. Also, I think I was expecting too much, too soon, so will try to be more patient. Thanks once again thanks for your response.

  • #3
    If you have been unlucky enough to have one of the torrential downpours, you will get enough water in the hotbin to make it cool down and fill the sump at the bottom. My composter has been at full steam for almost a full year now and after one heavy shower it got soggy and took an age to get back up to speed. I also use a corkscrew aerator to allow the air to flow a bit better and it is ofen the difference between hot or not.