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Insultating your barn in cold weather

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  • Insultating your barn in cold weather

    What is your to-do before a temp drop?

    Do you use heat tapes on your water supply?

    Do you wrap your hoses?

    Do you ever have a frozen water issue?

    What changes have you made to make your water supply not freeze?

    Suppost to be 13 degrees out tonight. I am going to get the water insulated tonight!

  • #2

    Your ideas are welcomed. I am getting ready to move my horses to a very COLD bank barn.


    • #3
      I unscrew my hose from the frost free hydrant, and try my best to drain it. Worst case scenario, my hose still has water in it and I have to water using buckets. However, I only have three horses, so its not too bad. My hydrant never freezes as long as I remember to unhook the hose.


      • #4
        Take your hose off the frost free hydrant!! Super important, unless you want to try to thaw out your formerly frost free hydrant. (ask me how I know that)

        Get heated buckets (I love mine!!)

        Close up your barn, the horse's body heat will really help keep it warmer in there.

        Close and drain your auto waterers--they will freeze and crack and flood. Use buckets and hoses.

        You can use an immersion heater to serve your horses warm water, which will take longer to freeze. Or haul from the house.

        I buried my water lines 3 feet down, and haven't had a problem. You can also run a trickle of water through your hose to keep it from freezing, warm water works best.

        If your water is sourced from your house, make sure you are taking the same precautions in there. If you have a pump house or well house, insulating it or having a heat source there will also be helpful.
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • #5
          I just unhook the hose, drain it, and throw it in the tack room.

          The barn is insulated and the tack room is heated.

          Never had a problem until last evening when I realized my beagle was missing.

          Yup.... I'd locked her in the tack room.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #6
            Yup - remove hose from hydrant!
            (I learned this the hard way)

            Heated 5gal buckets for the stalls are a Wonderful Thing.
            For my big trough - 50gal barrel - I use a sinking de-icer with the cord encased in PVC pipe so "someone" can't fiddle with it and unplug it while I'm at work.

            I feed tons of hay - I'd rather sweep out uneaten hay in the morning than worry my horse is not stoking his furnace all night.
            I feed a last flake - 2 if they're small - around 9-10P and that keeps him until 6A the next morning.
            *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
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


            • #7
              Heat your tack room and put the hose in there, heat tape on the hydrant.

              If you put the tackroom next to the washrack and put the hot water heater in the tackroom it will keep the tackroom above freezing and you can get water out of the spigots (because they are against a warm wall) even after your frost free hydrant freezes. Put a space heater in the tackroom and keep it above freezing for kitties and people warmth.

              if you have no tackroom build a wooden box and insulate if you can. Roll the hose and reel inside the box. Drill a small hole on the top of the box and run a electrical cord through it and hang a incandesent bulb inside the box. The heat from the bulb and the small space of the box will keep the hose from freezing.


              • #8
                The big thing is getting the water out of the hoses. If you have rafters you can drape them over, this works pretty well. Or so I've heard. Our rafters are, oh I don't know, 30 feet up? Huge tall barn! We are determined to figure out a way to get the hoses hanging full length though.

                Since we can't really hang the hoses, we have to try to keep them warm. First night of the cold snap we drained the hoses but left them in the barn. Epic fail -- bought two new hoses on Day 2. We have a kennel that is heated but not insulated (yes, those are dollar bills we are throwing right into the wind) -- tried to keep the hoses in there. It worked on Day 3 but not on Day 4. Bought four new hoses on Day 4. Today (Day 5) the hoses are IN THE HOUSE. Hoping that I can get them from the house to the frost-free hydrant without whatever water is in them freezing up solidly.

                Another big thing -- the sun makes a HUGE difference. So anything you can do while the sun is on your barn, make the effort to do so. I have been out working at the barn during the period when the sun goes behind a hill. The temp seems to drop about 25 degrees when the sun leaves.

                Luckily, we always need hoses over the summer, and can retire some kinked and leaky ones. But I wasn't budgeting for full hose replacement in the middle of the winter!
                Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                • #9
                  My hose is in my mudroom. A tad inconvenient, as I have to coil it and bring it through the house, but decidedly unfrozen.

                  Extra hay to horses (check)

                  Hose unhooked from faucets (check)

                  Any drafty areas I generally put some hay bales in front of. I still leave some ventilation as I can't stand an unventilated barn.


                  • #10
                    It was somewhere between 5 and 10 below (F) last night
                    here. That's not the coldest it has ever been. One thing
                    that will make unhooking hoses easier is plastic quick
                    disconnects. I used to buy the cheap ones but they break
                    so easily. Tried the brass ones but they freeze to the
                    hydrant. Last year we found a really sturdy plastic
                    quick disconnect for our hoses. It is called Gatorlock
                    and available from US Plastics. Makes connecting and
                    disconnecting hoses easier.

                    We also use less hose by having a plastic water pipe
                    installed near the ceiling of our cold barn. The pipe
                    is sloped so water quickly drains out of it when the
                    frost hydrant is shut off. One end is positioned just
                    above our frost hydrant and the other is just above
                    the stock tank in the run in shed behind the barn.
                    The end by the frost hydrant has a short hose
                    connecting the pipe to the frost hydrant (using the
                    above mentioned plastic quick disconnect). We
                    connect the short hose to the frost hydrant, turn
                    on the water and fill the stock tank, shut off the
                    frost hydrant and disconnect the hose. It does
                    require a bucket to allow the water in the pipe and
                    hose to be caught for later disposal. The hose is
                    short enough that it hangs vertically from the
                    ceiling so no water in it to freeze. The pipe slopes
                    steeply enough that no water remains in it either.
                    The few times we have forgotten to disconnect
                    the hose and ended up with water in the pipe
                    letting it crack, we just got the hacksaw and cut
                    the bad section out, glued in a replacement and
                    were back in business once the glue set up.
                    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                    Elmwood, Wisconsin


                    • #11
                      Sorry, I have "been getting ready" since Oct. I would MUCH rather do that stuff in warmer temps than what we have got now!

                      Put out insulated boxes for the horses to get used to and drinking from, so when the cold comes I just cover at night and plug in the heater. Horses are stalled at night. With them drinking from boxes, I removed and stored the summer tanks out of the way.

                      Put away all the non-used stuff, jumps, rails. Got in a new load of sawdust, put the tarp over it so things drain off well.

                      Got out the one heated bucket for my poorest drinking horse, so she is used to using it. Did keep the second plain bucket in stall, in case she decides to be picky. She can drink from either.

                      Put the rubber hammer on the post for knocking ice out of buckets when dumping them. Got the cat rubber dish out for water, takes longer to freeze with hot water.

                      Bought a hose cart, for winding up nightly. Holds a LOT of hose. Then roll the hose cart into the tack room to keep warm. Much easier than hauling hose into the basement every day. Tack room is heavily insulated, stays warm easily. Does have a baseboard heater unit, with temps set about 45F. Dehumidifier keeps the tack dry, adds heat to the room when running.

                      None of our horses are clipped, have plenty of hair. Our barn is cold, good air exchange, but not drafty. No ammonia smells at all. I might put a blanket on them if temps are below 0F with the wind blowing, so wind chill is bad. Blankets are READY for use, stored neatly at hand, but not out in the way, not at the bottom of the storage trunks either.

                      I have regular, double sliding big doors at each end of the aisle, and with age, sometimes icy ground, the edges may not meet flush. I have started putting a flap of plastic across the crack where doors meet. Works like the cloth behind a zipper in your jeans. Removes any draft and snow blowing in. The plastic goes up about 9ft, is about 14" wide, held on one door edge with spring clamps. Heavy plastic is from rug protection runners, cut to that width. Works very well, even in extreme cold plastic is still flexible. Does a terrific job of stopping drafts.

                      Tractor has had the oil changed, fuel is kept full in the tank. Radiator fluid is set for cold temps to prevent freezing. Chains on if needed. Things that might be needed for winter are stored in the front of shed or at hand, like the battery charger, electric cords. Light bulbs are all working, outside lights are working.

                      We are pretty much set for winter, just doing daily chores now. Winter routines are put in effect, like dumping the spreader daily. Wheelbarrow is kept full of sawdust for stalls, to save time when we cover for each other. Stacked bales near stalls so we don't have to get them down EVERY day or for morning feeding outside.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Robin@DHH View Post
                        It was somewhere between 5 and 10 below (F) last night
                        here. That's not the coldest it has ever been. One thing
                        that will make unhooking hoses easier is plastic quick
                        disconnects. I used to buy the cheap ones but they break
                        so easily. Tried the brass ones but they freeze to the
                        hydrant. Last year we found a really sturdy plastic
                        quick disconnect for our hoses. It is called Gatorlock
                        and available from US Plastics. Makes connecting and
                        disconnecting hoses easier.
                        I think you are my new favorite person!
                        I struggled with the metal disconnects last year and gave up on them.
                        I am looking on the US Plastics site now but I can't figure out what I need. Can you help advise me?


                        • #13
                          OK Paddy's Mom, I will try to explain what connectors to
                          choose. Take a look at the manufacturer's site for better


                          You are going to need either a QB or a QD part, the one
                          with the "ears" which secure the latch.

                          You will also need either a QF or a QA for the other side
                          of the connection.

                          I use a QD which is screwed onto my frost hydrant.
                          Then I use a QF for my hose end because the threads
                          it screws into are on the inside of the connector. You
                          are going to have to look at your hydrant and your
                          hose to see if you need threads on the inside or the
                          outside for each part to make the connection in your

                          I don't think you want a coupling with a shutoff nor
                          one with a timer for these winter applications.

                          To make things a little easier, the stock number from
                          US Plastics (who are the cheapest source of these
                          I have found) equivalent to the manufacturer label are:

                          QB = 64852 QD = 64853 QA = 64851 QF = 64854

                          I hope this is enough of an explanation. If not, let me know
                          and I will try again. Sorry, but I can't easily do pictures
                          for you.
                          Last edited by Robin@DHH; Dec. 10, 2009, 11:26 PM. Reason: spelling
                          Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                          Elmwood, Wisconsin


                          • #14
                            this is the one time i am happy i have no water in my barn . my water comes from the side of my house. it only froze one maybe two days last winter, and we did have a few days that neared -40. i got some heated buckets for the horse and goats in the barn (very much NOT insulated), and a floating tank heater for the two that live outside. really my barn is no warmer than the shelter it just has 4 whole walls not 3 and a half.

                            so basically i shut the barn door when it hits freezing, goats dont like the cold. and plug in water buckets when its around -10. i used to work at a barn that we had to drain 3 long hoses every night in winter, horrrible!


                            • #15
                              Fire went out last night.

                              Woke up to a 50 degree house, and two dogs and two cats fighting for a space under the blankets.

                              Built a fire, went out to the barn, and discovered I'd forgotten to unhook and drain the hose last night.


                              But at least I hadn't locked the beagle in the tack room this time.

                              It's not even winter yet and I'm ready for spring.
                              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                              -Rudyard Kipling


                              • #16
                                LOL...doncha love those mornings JSwan?

                                My barn walls are insulated with R19 and a 3/4" plywood wall over the top of that. I haven't done the interior roof yet...probably because I can't figure out how to hold up 4x8 sheets of plywood and attach them over my head while on a ladder. At least not withoout killing myself. I won't cover them in anything but wood...plastic means birds peck holes in it and yank out the insulation and I don't want a mess up there.
                                My pipes are all above ground inside the barn...which was a dingbat idea on my part. When we built the barn the plumbers came long after the foundation foolks were done the the interior packed process barn floor had been levelled and packed...so I decided not to have it dug back up to sink the interior water lines under 4' of floor. (frost line in CT is 4') Also figured it would be easier to repair lines if they were above ground.
                                I can keep them from freezing though...the insulated walls help a whole lot keeping my barn from being frigid and blocks wind 100%. I use heat tape attached to the pipes and then cover all pipes with the foam insulation tubes. I use 1" pipe insulation to cover 3/4" pipes because the tubes have to cover the heat tape too without gaps. In 6 years I've only had one small section freeze twice, both times it took a few minutes with a Thermacare heat pad stuck to the pip to defrost it and both times the temps were below zero for a few days straight.
                                I don't use hoses inside the barn, so no issues with that. Outside the barn is a frost free, that's never frozen on me either. Well, once or twice the handle got wet and then frose shut on me, but I have the tiny hand blow torch thingy for that and that takes about 10 seconds to defrost the handle. (I use it on locks and beaner clips that freeze shut too)
                                However last night I had to shut off the waterr inside the barn and drain the lines. (takes 2 minutes with a wet/dry vac, I cheated) I had my interior pipes redone this past summer and have spnt the last few weeks trying to get the heat tape back on by myself. Unfortunately the heat cord was wrapped in a coil for neat storage and is now stuck all twisty and I don't have enough hands to hold it flat against the pipe while I cable tie/electrical tape it on. I need one more hand, so this weekend will drag hubby down the barn since he has two hands he's not using. Then I can get that tape back up and put the new insulation on. (why do they call it heat *tape* when it's a thick electrical cord???)
                                You jump in the saddle,
                                Hold onto the bridle!
                                Jump in the line!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Great replys and information ladies and gents!

                                  I need to get one of those connectors Robin! Thanks for posting that!

                                  Last night I took a bale of straw and put it on the slab where the hose lays, I disconnected it, drained it, put the hose on the straw, covered it up and also covered it up with two down comforters. Wrapped the spickets on that hose and the hot/cold area in the arena.

                                  It was 13 out this morning but 30 in the barn and thankfully everything works!

                                  The barn usually stays 15 degrees warmer then outside due to 22 horses body heat. The barn is not too drafty, we put blankets under the doors if need be.

                                  I don't know how I feel about heaters in the water. Something about electric and water scares me.

                                  We put in new water tanks in August, need heat tapes, insulation etc. so far so good! Stay warm everyone!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                                    Fire went out last night.

                                    Woke up to a 50 degree house, and two dogs and two cats fighting for a space under the blankets.

                                    Built a fire, went out to the barn, and discovered I'd forgotten to unhook and drain the hose last night.


                                    But at least I hadn't locked the beagle in the tack room this time.

                                    It's not even winter yet and I'm ready for spring.

                                    I hate it when that happens But, the beagle is not in the tack room


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Robin@DHH View Post
                                      OK Paddy's Mom, I will try to explain what connectors to
                                      choose. Take a look at the manufacturer's site for better
                                      My hero!!
                                      Who knew $7 in parts could make me so happy?


                                      • #20
                                        I have been lucky. My properly installed yard hydrants have never frozen. (knock on wood) I guess it was worth the hand digging 4' down.

                                        In the winter I water carrying it in buckets (only two horses so not a big deal) and heated water buckets in the stalls and a heated manure bucket sized container outside. Love it.

                                        We put bales of straw or hay along the bottom of the big sliding doors to keep some of the wind blown snow out of the barn.

                                        Other than that there is not much to do for winter.