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How to stop leaking in a bank barn?

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  • How to stop leaking in a bank barn?

    DH and I are renting a farmette that has a bank barn built into the side of a sloping hill. At some point in its life it was a cow barn. A previous renter had a made a few improvements for horses, but it needs tremendous work before my mare could call it home. The most immediate issue is some leakage under the wall in what will be converted to her stall. The wall is on the side built into the bank. The leakage is minor, but I'd like to stop it entirely if that is possible without spending buckets of money on a rental property. I believe the leaking is a result of oversaturated ground and continual rain. Since this wall is part of a hill, I believe the rain is soaking into the ground and coming out the first available place....under the stall/barn wall. Any suggestions or experiences with how to solve this problem?

  • #2
    People (like me) who have owned homes in areas with high water tables have experienced this in basements. The water would seep in or "sweat in" from anywhere it could. The only solution that worked for me and my neighbors was to hire a company to come in and put a sealant on the concrete.

    I don't really think that's going to be an option for you.

    We had a similar style barn growing up and had the same issue in the spring especially. Our solution was to build stalls more towards the interior else we were just wetting down bedding. If you only have one horse, might you be able to construct a stall with panels that is away from the wet areas?
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • #3
      The words cheap and water problems do not go well together.

      The short version of the answer is you would not only have to seal out the water but you would have to provide the water a new place to go. Both would require excavating.


      • Original Poster

        Well, where the water comes in it drains to middle of the barn. Everything is on a slight slope..althought it feels level inside. Wondering if building up the floor with dirt and packing it down would work.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bascule7 View Post
          Well, where the water comes in it drains to middle of the barn. Everything is on a slight slope..althought it feels level inside. Wondering if building up the floor with dirt and packing it down would work.
          It's still going to run across the floor. We had the same problem, and solved it with a raised wood floor in each stall. We also had a sump pump in the middle of the floor, in a sort of cement well. Water would come in through the walls, run down the floor and into the sump pump, and we'd pump it out in a different place where it wouldn't come back in. We put down blocks, and laid out planks across the blocks to make a floor that was raised about 4 inches above the dirt floor. This kept the stalls dry.
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          • Original Poster

            Interesting 4corners. Sump pump is not an option, but raising the floor may be. What kind of blocks are we talking about? The flat cinder blocks or something else? What do you mean by planks? I'm visualizing wood sheeting or plywood(?) with rubber mats over it.
            Last edited by Bascule7; Jan. 31, 2013, 02:23 PM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bascule7 View Post
              What kind of blocks are we talking about? THe flat cinder blocks or something else? What do you mean by planks? I'm visualing wood sheeting(?) with rubber mats over it.
              Planks are dimentional lumber at least 2" thick and 8" wide; length is what ever you want. Sheeting material, be it plywood or OSB, wouldn't be strong enough and the glue would dissolve in a short time. Rough sawn planking would do nicely as stall flooring.

              If it were me doing this, I would frame it out on 18" centre cross pieces, screw it down with decking screws then put small concrete blocks under to hold it up out of the mud. You need more blocks than one on each corner.
              Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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              • Original Poster

                Ah ha. So you are talking about sundeck type planks? I was actually thinking about putting those flat/solid cinder blocks (about 3 inches tall) across the full floor and then putting the wood over that. If there is nothing under the planks to support them and the weight of an 1100lb horse, that would make me nervous. Also, if there is any "give" to the floor, I see her not feeling comfortable walking on it. Maybe my perception of strength on this is off?
                Last edited by Bascule7; Jan. 31, 2013, 04:31 PM.


                • #9
                  Haha! I have nothing to add except when I read the title of this thread I had to read it three times before I realized your question wasn't "How do you stop leaking from the bank TO the barn?" and I was hoping someone had a good answer for that one
                  "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bascule7 View Post
                    Ah ha. So you are talking about sundeck type planks? I was actually thinking about putting those flat/solid cinder blocks (about 3 inches tall) across the full floor and then putting the wood over that. If there is nothing under the planks to support them and the weight of an 1100lb horse, that would make be nervous. Also, if there is any "give" to the floor, I see her not feeling comfortable walking on it. Maybe my perception of strength on this is off?
                    Is the barn REALLY tiny because this is not what I would call a cheap option.


                    • Original Poster

                      It will have one stall. The stall will be narrow (8ft because that is all the width I have available where I have high ceiling), but I can make the length as long as I want. I'm guessing 15-16ft.


                      • #12
                        If the barn's wall is masonary you use a hydrulic cement to stop water flow...these products are used in the tunnels under rivers... and can be applied into running water

                        Waterplug is a commonly available hydrulic packing cement


                        You also need to look up hill from the barn to see about diverting the water flow around or away from the barn of possible


                        • #13
                          Been there - the only solution is excavation, drainage and waterproofing - and lots of money. You could try a 4 -6 inches of gravel with rubber mats in the stall - hopefully the water will flow through the gravel under the mats so her stall will at least stay dryish. At our current barn we priced out lumber to redo the existing wood floors (4x4 support with 2x10 planks) and just about died of shock - a couple of grand per stall.


                          • #14
                            I have done a number of thing over the years.

                            French drains around the inside perimeter of the barn draining to the outside.
                            Installed blacktop on the entire barn floor and covered with mats in the stalls.
                            Put a concrete pad on the upstairs entrance to the barn.
                            Regrade all ground around outside of barn.
                            Install bigger gutters and downspouts on barn roof.
                            Redirect water coming down driveway to barn (sand bagged when lots of rain is called for)
                            Painted inside stone walls with "damtite".
                            Paved driveway coming to top of barn.
                            Regraded all ground around barn.
                            Put shed roof over entire length of front of barn.
                            Had County Highway Department put a berm on entrance to driveway from county road.
                            Regraded all ground around barn.
                            Installed window well around window and filled with gravel.
                            In the worst stall I installed brick pavers over the dirt floor and put stall mats over that. The water still comes in that one stall but it runs under the pavers and out a hole I drilled in the stall door sill.
                            Several years ago during a hurricane I actually put chewing gum in a hole in the stone wall to stop a water spout that appeared. Still there and still does not leak!
                            In the 23 years I have been here I have gone from having 3 to 5 inches of water in the entire barn to having only an occasional flow in the aisle way. I am good with that! I don't want to have to regrade around the barn ever again!
                            Oh yeah....I came across some strange large rock and gravel areas as I was grading around the barn. Apparently the farmers before me tried to divert the water using natural drainage ditches lined with rocks and gravel but they eventually silted over.

                            Good luck!
                            Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary...


                            • #15
                              We had this problem in our old bank barn (early 1900's late 1800's) it was as simple as adding rain gutters and then taking stone (non grade) and banking it up against the side of the barn and angling it away from the barn. That "sealed" up and allowed the rain to run off down the bank instead of into the barn. Did well during Hurricane Sandy with quite a bit of rain. No water in the barn! We were having the whole wall sweat and floor covered in water before. So it can be cheap!
                              Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                              Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                              & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


                              • #16
                                Welcome to my world.

                                Be prepared to never really "fix" it ( without loads of money).

                                Making sure the gutters are tight is the first step. This is where most of our water was coming from. The rest? Not entirely positive but my stall must sit on top of an underground spring or something.

                                Through trial and error and lots of stone, the best and cheapest option is to line the stall ( or just the flood prone area) with a heavy duty tarp and fill the holes and level the stall with a combination of stone and sand, add your rubber mats and it works.

                                Its not perfect and I usually have to fix it again 1x-2x a year but each time it costs about $40.

                                We are planning on buying this place this Spring. I anticipate lots of work and a money pit in my future


                                • Original Poster

                                  Wow. Based on what I'm reading here, my problem isn't as bad as some. We've had ridiculous all-day or multi-day downpours lately. The side I'm converting for her is the dryest area in the barn. The leak is very minor. A small run or stream from the front side. The other leak is related to a tree that has grown against the barn and the trunk/root is pushing on the wood and allowing some rain in that side. It's a wooden barn. No stone or concrete although I wondered if pouring concrete between the main wall and existing stall wall would stop it? How much gravel would I need to effectly cover an 8' x 15' stall floor? There is a small pit where previous horse pee'd and they dug a hole cleaning it. Should I pack that with dirt first or just dump the gravel in it? Thanks to all who have responded. You've been so helpful.


                                  • #18
                                    The pit you speak of is where you are going to need the tarp.

                                    Seriously, it took me 3 years of constantly adding stone, sand before I realized the pit was just sucking up all my filler.

                                    The tarp prevents it from sinking into the mud and disappearing into oblivion.

                                    Our bank barn has a stone foundation. I think for the first 200 years it was a high end addition but when they redid the road and decided to pave it they placed a drain and diverted the water directly into the barn/bank. We have tried filling the stone foundation in with concrete but the water just found another route. Until we can fix the road drainage, well..........

                                    I am very happy with how my temporary fix has been holding up. I really think it will be just the ticket for you, especially if it is temporary housing.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks SuperAlter. What kind of stone and sand do you recommend for this and how much did you use per stall? FYI, there are no gutters on this barn.


                                      • #20
                                        It really depends on how deep your hole is and how unlevel the stall is to begin with.

                                        Mine tends to be a pit and then as the water tries to get out it creates a gully and then runs out from underneath the mat. The water must go somewhere and I prefer it not settle in the stall. I keep the gully open and just fill with rocks and sand so the water is still able to escape and is able to flow out the same way it has.

                                        You have to remember, the water has to go somewhere, so while my stall no longer holds the water and it is able to drain out, it just drains out into the aisle way. Still makes a mess and its still a pain, but at least his stall is dry.

                                        My pit and gully take about 4 bags of rocks and 5 bags of sand. It does settle so It does have a little lump to it for a week or so. I prefer that over a hole anyday.

                                        I get my filler from home depot/lowes. Anything will work, the cheapest bags of rocks ( I think they are landscape stones) and paver sand as I think it has more substance and just holds its shape ( if that makes any sense) than just play sand etc.

                                        Gosh, my barn sounds like an awful place LOL I do think that it sounds like yours is a small issue comparatively. You might get lucky and only have to do it once!