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Electrical issues in barns - spin off

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  • Electrical issues in barns - spin off

    With the recent barn fire in Georgia, I imagine more than a few of us are being more wary of electrical issues at our home barns.

    I'm pretty happy with where I am now, but a friend boards at a barn where the electric fence lines have some issues. They make popping sounds quite a bit and she said when you look closer, there are sparks flying out of certain parts of the wiring. The barn owner said "oh it's no big deal".


    hmmm...what do people think of this?

  • #2
    That is the biggest of big deals imo.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home

    Comment


    • #3
      Basics to me are, before building, get your fire captain to tell you what they need as far as access and distance between buildings and water access before you even decide where to build.

      First, don't build with wood, use metal.
      You can cover metal with wood where you need to, but remember to keep flammables to a minimum in a barn.

      While any barn will burn because what is in there burns, a wood barn will just be so much more apt to be a firetrap up front.

      Wood barns are beautiful to look at, but I shudder every time I see them, having been in two barn fires, that thankfully were stopped before the whole wood structure was involved, or many horses would have burn in them.
      Had those barns been metal, the barns would not have been involved, there would not have been those fires at all, they would have been confined to where the fire was.

      It is much easier to control a fire in the early stages in a basically metal barn.

      Second, try to use standard framing, not trusses.
      You can make trusses as or stronger than plain framing, but also, if a few trusses fail by fire or a tractor damages them, the whole structure can come down, that is why those buildings with trusses are called "the firemen's tumbs".

      Third, all wiring needs to be in conduit and put in by a licensed electrician only, not a place to DIYs and if you can, have an inspector come check it over before considering it done.

      Fourth, try to store most of the hay on one end or best in a separate building, hay fuels a fire like nothing else.

      For those that say access to pens outside all/most stalls would not help, horses will stay in the stalls as the barn burns, well, at least you can go in there from the outside to get horses out if the aisle is getting full of smoke and you can't go in there.
      You can't have enough exits in any barn.

      I know, what is ideal is not always practical.
      If you have a wood structure, well, that is what you have to use.

      Our race training barn was a real, horrible firetrap and we were just lucky that nothing ever started a fire there, because nothing would have survived that one.
      Since that is what we had to work out of, we did.
      I was never so glad when termites ate it to the rafters and we could bulldoze it down.
      Every barn after that was metal and made with fire in mind.

      Each one of us has to weight the risks we live with and we put our horses in.
      There are no easy answers, but yes, something like safe wiring should not be overlooked, if you see there may be a problem with it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Nothing in or around a barn should create sparks.

        Nothing.

        It's possible for a well built barn with wiring in conduit to still catch fire - it's impossible to eliminate all risks.

        But with suspect wiring, you're just asking for it. Really. It's a time bomb.

        If you have a place you can move your horse, you may want to consider it.
        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
        -Rudyard Kipling

        Comment


        • #5
          I forgot to add, you can use other to build barns better than wood, like concrete slabs or blocks.
          A neighbor build his barn as a metal, all purpose building and then made the stalls out of poured concrete panels for the sides and a solid gate for the whole front.
          He absolutely loves working out of that barn and the horses seem relaxed and happy in there.
          Wood is just adding fuel to any fire, so to speak.

          As I also said, some times, that is what you have and then, yes, be sure all else is done to try to avoid fire above and beyond, because of the wood framing being part of the barn construction.

          We had those plastic balls hanging from the ceiling on every stall, filled with a foamy product, that if a fire started, would melt and help for a bit to slow the fire down.
          I don't know if they still make those or how well they may work.

          Comment


          • #6
            Selecting a newer barn that is either built to code or an older one has had the electricals brought up to standard and then MAINTAINED would be the place to start.

            Accidents still happen so proximity to emergency services, accessibility and being kept free of junk, trash and other debris, including dust and spider webs around all outlets goes a long way to keep any mayhem under control. If all efforts fail, unblocked, operational doors and more then a few of them or, in warmer, drier climates, a shed row style.

            Compromise is a part of boarding out but I don't back down on the above.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Sadly I think it is impossible to mitigate all things that could happen but you can certainly take many precautions to prevent accidents. Not everyone has the luxury of moving to the perfect barn or building it etc. Not everyone can store hay separately etc. So, the key is to see what you do have and how you can make it as safe as possible. All electric wiring in conduit, no wet hay or moldy hay in the barn, if possible have the hay storage area walls done in fire resistant wall board, while it won't stop fire it will slow it down hopefully. My big thing is having exterior doors on every stall, hopefully that turn out to a pasture so in an emergency horses can be let out to a safe area. Don't leave electrically appliances on at night, like fans. Keep the barn swept of dust and cob webs.
              "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bluey View Post


                Had those barns been metal, the barns would not have been involved, there would not have been those fires at all, they would have been confined to where the fire was.
                Our barn was a metal barn.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                  Our barn was a metal barn.
                  Yes, metal and concrete barns are full of flammables, they do burn also, sadly, just not maybe quite like a wood barn does.
                  Then there are also accidents, where no matter how careful everyone is, fires still happen.

                  Any fire is a tragedy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bluey please just stop typing in absolutes. just stop.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse is at a cement block barn.... but even there the stall fronts, trusses and etc are made of wood.
                      And then there's the trade off of, if he were to get cast... it could end badly.

                      There are no absolutes other than being as careful as one can be, being vigilant, and have fire extinguishers where they would be accessible [Ie in half a dozen places or more] and a plan. And then praying.
                      Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                      http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by katarine View Post
                        Bluey please just stop typing in absolutes. just stop.
                        What do you mean?
                        I give several scenarios and possibilities, no absolutes.
                        I always wonder why some like to make discussions personal digs?

                        I know most barns are built out of wood, so those many that have horses there can become touchy about saying it is my least favorite building material for barns, but that is MY opinion.

                        My point, if someone is going to build a barn today, do try to consider all angles, then do what seems best for your situation and that includes if using wood and how much, wood being one of the more flammable building materials.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The OP's issues sounds more like an electric fence is shorting out on a wet weed or such.
                          Heck, one rainy day I heard my fencing snapping and crackling and found out a bunch of random slugs must have heard some calling and climbed up the posts (T-posts) and slimed onto the insulator for the bottom strand of electric, promptly causing a slug meltdown and a short in the fence. There were several locations. I had to turn off the fence and clean up slug remains.

                          Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                          What do you mean?
                          I give several scenarios and possibilities, no absolutes.
                          You are actually speaking in absolutes. More than one location but I have snipped your original post below to show the one that is totally out in left field.

                          Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                          Had those barns been metal, the barns would not have been involved, there would not have been those fires at all, they would have been confined to where the fire was.

                          It is much easier to control a fire in the early stages in a basically metal barn.
                          For this to be true the metal barn would have to be ALL metal (or other non-flammable material) construction, including stall fronts, all walls, etc. No flammable items stored/used inside, etc. With a barn, where a good percentage of the contents are very flammable having the walls be metal versus wood is not really going to save the whole barn like you describe.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                            The OP's issues sounds more like an electric fence is shorting out on a wet weed or such.
                            Heck, one rainy day I heard my fencing snapping and crackling and found out a bunch of random slugs must have heard some calling and climbed up the posts (T-posts) and slimed onto the insulator for the bottom strand of electric, promptly causing a slug meltdown and a short in the fence. There were several locations. I had to turn off the fence and clean up slug remains.



                            You are actually speaking in absolutes. More than one location but I have snipped your original post below to show the one that is totally out in left field.



                            For this to be true the metal barn would have to be ALL metal (or other non-flammable material) construction, including stall fronts, all walls, etc. No flammable items stored/used inside, etc. With a barn, where a good percentage of the contents are very flammable having the walls be metal versus wood is not really going to save the whole barn like you describe.
                            Don't clip a post to make it sound the way you want?

                            I was talking about those two instances where, if the fire had spread, because the barns were mostly wood, the whole would have been burn down quickly.
                            If that had been metal framing and sheeting, the fire would have stayed confined much longer, if not completely.

                            THOSE TWO barns is what I was using as example, not the phrase you clipped and assumed it was an absolute proclamation.

                            Re-read and you will see that is what I meant:

                            ---Wood barns are beautiful to look at, but I shudder every time I see them, having been in two barn fires, that thankfully were stopped before the whole wood structure was involved, or many horses would have burn in them.
                            Had those barns been metal, the barns would not have been involved, there would not have been those fires at all, they would have been confined to where the fire was.

                            It is much easier to control a fire in the early stages in a basically metal barn."---

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The WI Farm center has some info about programs and electricians for farm rewiring for those in Wisconsin: http://datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Wisconsin_...ing/index.aspx

                              I'd imagine that other states have similiar information and programs available as well.
                              "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                              -Edward Hoagland

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Electric fences sparking and faulty barn wiring causing barn fires are two separate topics. This thread is heading off the rails because you tried to talk about both at once.

                                Electric fences definitely can cause grass fires. Cutting the risk is one of the reasons modern controllers pulse. In practice it is not common because once grass is dry enough to be easily flammable, it is also too dry to be very conductive.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Subpar electric (wiring, circuit breakers, plugs, switches, etc.) in barns is still the number 1 cause of barn fires. So many barns where I've boarded have been wired by the hubby, BF or friend of a friend and never inspected by a licenced electrician. I've even seen old lamp wire strung throughout a 200 year old barn get by the insurance inspectors at one place.

                                  Then there's the use of extension cords that were never designed for high wattage space and bucket heaters. This stuff goes on in a LOT of places and there's not a lot a boarder can do when there a very few barns that are up to code.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Fluorescent lighting is a bad thing in barns, unless with covers. When one of our medical examiners lost his champion arabian stallion, and some of his mares, due to a barn fire at his home in Alpharetta, the cause was a fluorescent light that blew out. I didn't understand that (yes my father was an electrical engineer so I have an instilled respect for electricity) until one day in the courthouse in Atlanta the guys and I were sitting around a table in our "wing" with books and carpeting, and a fluorescent light blew out and sparked all over the table with the newspaper and on us and on the carpeting. Come Monday morning, all fluorescent lights in the courthouse were covered. I've told this to BOs who didn't listen. At our previous barn, one of the 2 fluorescent lights in Cloudy's stall was flickering and going on and off, and the BO's husband was supposedly an electrical engineer. All those shavings in his "foaling stall" were right there to be ignited. I kept cutting off the lights until that light was replaced. Never leave fluorescent lights on in a barn unless you are there. And cover them with the plastic coverings that are readily available.
                                    But then I've boarded at a barn where the alcoholic and mentally disabled by fetal alcohol syndrome BO smoked in the barn, and left her cigs burning in the barn to burn to ash. I think that most barn fires are totally preventable. I once boarded where a BO left a heating pad on the hay for a dog to lie on, and claimed it was safe. I got Cloudy and Callie out of that barn quickly, and until i moved, I put them in a shed in a paddock.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
                                      Fluorescent lighting is a bad thing in barns, unless with covers. When one of our medical examiners lost his champion arabian stallion, and some of his mares, due to a barn fire at his home in Alpharetta, the cause was a fluorescent light that blew out. I didn't understand that (yes my father was an electrical engineer so I have an instilled respect for electricity) until one day in the courthouse in Atlanta the guys and I were sitting around a table in our "wing" with books and carpeting, and a fluorescent light blew out and sparked all over the table with the newspaper and on us and on the carpeting. Come Monday morning, all fluorescent lights in the courthouse were covered. I've told this to BOs who didn't listen. At our previous barn, one of the 2 fluorescent lights in Cloudy's stall was flickering and going on and off, and the BO's husband was supposedly an electrical engineer. All those shavings in his "foaling stall" were right there to be ignited. I kept cutting off the lights until that light was replaced. Never leave fluorescent lights on in a barn unless you are there. And cover them with the plastic coverings that are readily available.
                                      That is very interesting, will remember that.

                                      No lights over stalls themselves was something we always recommended, have those over the walls on the aisle side and the light will reach into the stalls.
                                      That was mostly so horses would not accidentally hit a light bulb above a stall, or it may malfunction and fall into the straw below, warm and whole or in hot bits.

                                      Those were incandescent bulbs, would not have thought fluorescents too, but it makes sense.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        In the barn my pony is boarded at, the main circuit breaker has been tripping randomly. Barn owner seems to think its no big deal, but it never used to happen...I worry, and it sucks to be in the barn doing stalls and suddenly be in the dark. Ideas?
                                        ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                                        ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                                        ~Vet Tech Student
                                        Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats

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