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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2013
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    Question Moisture/Condensation Problem-- helpful suggestions?

    Hi all,
    I have just taken over a beautiful new wood post-and-beam barn, and this is the first winter using it finished. Unfortunately, our senior horses who are stabled there (six stalls, used only at night) create enough moisture to literally SOAK the interior of the wood sliding doors. The trim is swelled and is going to rot out in no time flat! We have been cracking the doors at night to let moisture escape, but with these below-zero nights, the seniors have gotten chilly and are pacing/moving more. We put stable sheets on them the last two nights, but that's not something we want to do if we don't have to. We have aisle fans, but someone didn't get dust-proof barn fans, so I don't want to use them (major fire hazard! We are having them replaced, of course, but the process will take more than a month for the custom fans on order). There is no ventilation in the roof because there are apartments directly above. The barn stays open to the unheated indoor arena, but the doors are closed at night to keep the temperature above freezing. There are no windows to open, except those directly in each of the horse's stalls. What else have you done to mitigate moisture problems in your barns? Do you think leaving the fans on (once they are dust-proof barn fans) will be enough to disperse the moisture? Thank you!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    Default

    The vapor condensing may be coming up through the ground. Are these doors the only none insulated sidewalls?

    here is how you can "dust proof" your fan for little cost

    http://woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip020705ws.html



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2010
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    Gum Tree PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by clanter View Post
    The vapor condensing may be coming up through the ground. Are these doors the only none insulated sidewalls?

    here is how you can "dust proof" your fan for little cost

    http://woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip020705ws.html
    Great tip/MacGyver on the fan filter!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2010
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    OP, IMO and experience if your horses have nice winter coats on them I see no reason to close up the barn under average winter conditions. If ever when stalled. IMO sub-freezing is hardly cold to horses that are properly acclimated.
    As a winter climber and mountaineer high body moisture is not a comfortable combination.
    Given the fact there is insulated living space above the stalls IMO there is not much you can do about it other then leaving doors, window open so as to have cross ventilation.
    Putting sheets on may bring on the same cause and effect with cold moisture between the sheet and their body.
    I am not a big fan of blanketing horses with good winter coats anymore then absolutely necessary. Their coats loose their natural “loft” which has the same effect as a “flat” down coat which has a fraction of its comfy factor.
    Sorry if you know all of this. Others may not.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
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    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get
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    10,376

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    Agree with guntree.
    OP:
    Is your barn insulated?
    May be too well sealed-up for moisture to evaporate.

    I insulated only the roof of my metal pole barn so condensation would not create "rain" if I closed it up in cold weather.
    Turns out in 10yrs of Midwest Winter I have had little reason to ever completely close the barn and dutch doors at the rear of the stalls remain open year-round.
    Horses come & go as they want and the barn remains around 10F warmer than the outdoors, no matter how cold.
    No one gets blanketed unless there's a heavy rain or wet snow so they get soaked through on their backs.
    Even then, blankets come off as soon as they are dry beneath them
    And I've noticed even when their backs are wet, their bellies are dry - somehow the haircoat deflects the water from running onto their undersides.
    My pony grows a coat any Wooly Mammoth would envy, but the 19yo WB merely gets plushy.
    I check obsessively for warmth - brisket, belly, flanks, eartips - and even when temps dip below 0, neither horse is chilled enough so they need a blanket.
    Same approach worked or my 27yo TB.

    Sometimes I think owners blanket when they feel cold, not taking into consideration how the horse feels.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2006
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    Maryland
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    I worked at a horse ranch in the Colorado Rockies one winter. they closed the barn up tight every night and it was so wet and stank of ammonia every morning when I opened the doors. Ammonia is horribly bad for the horses lungs, just read about it. I always heard coughing in that barn. They really needed to keep the doors open a bit but wouldn't. Oddly, their second barn which had a different contstruction (old farm livestock barn) couldn't be sealed up tight and that barn was dry and had no ammonia fumes accumulation in the air.

    Please do not use sheets on horses in cold weather. It flattens the loft of their winter coats and makes them COLDER. Either use thick insulated winter blankets or don't use anything. Do not use uninsulated sheets. Crack the doors. Don't damage their lungs. Feed them lot's of high fiber hay and it will help keep them warm. Sorry to sound so adamant but humans so often make decisions based on being hairless wimpy creatures that live in heated and air conditioned buildings. These are horses not humans.

    chicamuxen



  7. #7
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    Nov. 30, 2009
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    Open that barn up!
    Get good cross ventilation going and feed lots of hay at night. All that moisture and stagnent air is much worse for the horses than a bit of cold!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by gumtree View Post
    OP, IMO and experience if your horses have nice winter coats on them I see no reason to close up the barn under average winter conditions. If ever when stalled. IMO sub-freezing is hardly cold to horses that are properly acclimated.
    As a winter climber and mountaineer high body moisture is not a comfortable combination.
    Given the fact there is insulated living space above the stalls IMO there is not much you can do about it other then leaving doors, window open so as to have cross ventilation.
    Putting sheets on may bring on the same cause and effect with cold moisture between the sheet and their body.
    I am not a big fan of blanketing horses with good winter coats anymore then absolutely necessary. Their coats loose their natural “loft” which has the same effect as a “flat” down coat which has a fraction of its comfy factor.
    Sorry if you know all of this. Others may not.


    I leave my aisle door open (it's a 4x8 sliding door, there are two of them in the opening, so when both are open, it's an 8x8 doorway). Although I will say, even when I have closed them both, I never have condensation in my barn with two horses in there. Ever.

    Your barn is sealed up too tight.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Dec. 2, 2004
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    You need to move the moist air out. Circulating it around and around in the barn won't help. You need some kind of ventilation to the outside, be it through a cupola, a fan set high through an outside wall, etc.

    Cracking a window or two on the lee side of the barn won't hurt as an interim solution. I'd leave the door shut, as an open or ajar door lets too much cold air in right at floor level.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 26, 2011
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    When you get condensation inside the barn it is because the building is not breathing properly. You need to have either a ridge vent, roof vents or a cupola. If you barn has one of these then it would mean the air flow is somehow obstructed.

    If you don't fix the problem, you will get rot and mold in your roof.
    People often confuse ideology with knowledge and thoughtful reasoning.


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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2013
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    Mountain country
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    Hi all,
    Thanks for the suggestions! However, let me head this off: this is not a question about blanketing, it's about moisture. The horses in this barn are "special needs" horses: #1= 30 yr old TB that has no extra fat, #2-4 are three TB cross rescue mares from the south: they have NO COAT as they arrived in October and did not grow one. If I leave the door open these nights when it is -17 F plus windchill, these horses pace all night (and they don't have any fat to burn). They are all on high quality 2nd cutting forage, and are checked between 9:30 and 10 at night to be fed extra hay as necessary. All four are turned out every day from 8 am- 4 pm, and are blanketed if the weather deems it necessary. We do NOT blanket them in the barn at night, but did put stable blankets on them those two nights when we left the doors open during negative temps.

    We don't have an ammonia problem: we are obsessive about clean stalls. The moisture is the problem.

    Yes, the barn is very well insulated: everything except the doors, where the moisture is building up. And because there are apartments above the stalls, there are no roof vents or cupolas. However, there is an attached indoor arena which has three large cupolas-- I suppose I should start leaving those open and see if that helps! Thanks for getting me to think of that.

    Also, the tip on the box fans is awesome, except that we don't have box fans, we have ceiling fans. I appreciate all the tips and suggestions!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2009
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    North Carolina
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    If you just can't/don't want to leave the doors open, I'd highly recommend installing an attic-fan-like setup above the doors to keep air moving through. You could do it pretty cheaply. Definitely leave the arena cupolas open and if design allows, I'd be cutting some holes as high in the walls as possible for vent fans in the stall area.
    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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    2 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Jan. 26, 2006
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    Since you are saying ventilation is not an issue you just need to insulate the doors since the remainder of the building is insulated. The reason the moisture is condensing on the doors is because they are colder than the surroundings

    Either put rigid foam insulation panels in place or have spray foam shot onto the door



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2013
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    Mountain country
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    Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions! We are definitely moving forward with addressing this, including temporarily insulating the doors while we redesign some of the ceiling ventilation, and get new fans.



  15. #15
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    Jul. 10, 2001
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    I would put in roof soffit vents to let the warm, moist air escape. A barn should turn over its entire atmosphere, 12 times per hour to keep a healthy environment for horses (reduced ammonia, particulates etc.). Any barn that is insulated in a northern climate is going to sweat in the cold given that horses put off so much heat and moisture. Generally, we put passive vents in every 30 feet along the length of the barn to eliminate sweating.

    I see you already have them in the ring. Open them and leave them open.

    As for ammonia, you don't have to smell it for it to be detrimental to the health of the people and the horses. There still can be a significant build up with no odor.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep. 13, 2002
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    Another thing about ammonia, you might not smell it at your nose level, but check lower down where horses eat and breathe while eating and it might surprise you.

    As as others have said, a barn should not be sealed tight, but air must move through it somehow. Even human house building has changed in the thinking that it should be sealed tight, as it has been found to be unhealthy. For a horse barn, that air turnover is even more important.



  17. #17
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    Jul. 10, 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsepoor View Post
    Another thing about ammonia, you might not smell it at your nose level, but check lower down where horses eat and breathe while eating and it might surprise you.

    As as others have said, a barn should not be sealed tight, but air must move through it somehow. Even human house building has changed in the thinking that it should be sealed tight, as it has been found to be unhealthy. For a horse barn, that air turnover is even more important.
    I think in human buildings it is 8 times per hour. That gives you an idea how "polluted" a barn atmosphere is. Of course my knowledge is about 15 years old based on work done by a colleague in graduate school.


    Yes, the barn is very well insulated: everything except the doors, where the moisture is building up.
    I bet you are having moisture build up between the insulation and the outer walls and roof as well. You just don't know/see it. Hence the need for passive or active ventilation. All insulating the doors will do is hide the water build up.



  18. #18
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    Certainly open the cupolas in the indoor, but is there a door in the indoor that you can open, at least a little bit? That might be far enough from the horses to provide ventilation while avoiding a chill.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2005
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    Until you get the ventilation situation sorted out you are best off putting blankets on the horses (warm, insulated stable blankets or even turnout blankets) and just opening the doors or at least the door to the arena. I live in a very cold climate and even if you have a heated insulated barn (like many people do here) you need to vent the air out. My current barn and my last barn both had exhaust fans hooked up to humidistats high up on the wall. You have to play with the humidity level so that it comes on just enough in the winter to keep condensation down. So, yes, I pay to heat the air then I vent it out from time to time. That is just what we do here unless you want your barn to drip like a rain forest.
    I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.


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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2013
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    Mountain country
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    Thanks again, everyone. We are currently addressing the ventilation by opening all stall windows and doors, which is absolutely helping. Great point on the moisture building up inside the ceilings and walls too-- something I hadn't considered, but seems like common sense! We have gotten Lucas Equine (who did the stalls) and the builder involved to try and work up a better system all around. It's going to take some effort, but it will be worth it. You all are probably right about the ammonia levels too: like I mentioned, we are crazy about removing soiled bedding and changing over stalls, and have no "problem" with the smell, but what if someone wasn't doing a thorough job? It would build up immediately and I'm sure reach dangerous levels. Better to just increase it all around. Thanks, so glad I joined COTH!



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