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Old 10-26-2017, 12:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Pownal, Maine
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Default Seeking yurt winterization advice

My wife and I put up our yurt this year in southern Maine where winter is cold and wet - Shelter Designs 30ft, snow and wind kit, Arctic insulation package. We hired a builder/GC to build the platform, and he recommended we build some kind of enclosure around the the pier foundation (see attached photo). This would create a crawlspace and give some extra temperature protection to our water line and drain lines (with the added benefit of losing less heat through the floor). I'm envisioning doing this with plastic sheeting stretched on frames built from 2x4s, one frame for each space between piers. Before getting started I'd love to find some resources, advice, photos, etc. to help guide this project. I've been digging through the threads here but I wonder if some of you might be able to point me in the right direction.

It's also been recommended to me to build boxes around the water and drain lines down to grade and fill with insulation. This seems like a simpler project than the above, but any guidance here would be awesome. Thanks folks!

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Old 10-26-2017, 04:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

It's a good idea to enclose all above ground plumbing in foam insulated chase. Screw the panels together and that will allow you easy access at a later date without demo. You could also fabricate 2x panels between the piers under your platform.

I know this stuff from experience. I installed insulated trailer skirts in Jackson WYO decades ago. That plus we also installed heat tape and insulated chase around plumbing. What we encountered under some of those trailers was a freakin nightmare. Regardless we got some happy folks once the work was complete. All that work helping people out on low income made a BIG difference in the floor staying warm and reducing freeze up in bitter sub zero weather common to Jackson. I say go for it. The minimal expense will absolutely be worth the time and money invested. Good luck.
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Old 10-30-2017, 05:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

Skirting the area below the platform will definitely help, but I would recommend using plywood or cement backer board rather than plastic sheeting. It will not only help with keeping your floor warmer, but also deflect wind and prevent uplift.
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Old 10-31-2017, 09:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

Congratulations on your new place! Fun.

Insulated boxes for water pipes are great, but with a yurt, even once the pipes are inside they aren't safe from extreme temperatures. Adding heat tape will keep pipes from freezing, though then you are dependent on the grid. (AP states 1.5 million wo/power in New England after our most recent storm. Luckily temps are mostly still above freezing.)

If it were me I'd also work on a way to easily and quickly drain the system, if possible.

Personally I chose to just not have running water and love the peace of mind that brings, though a little primitive for many. And not sure I'd choose that with kids. Though maybe! Most in the world don't have running water - much less hot running water. It is harder to swim against the stream when everyone assumes there is only one way. Still convenience can be nice and for most, whatever effort it takes is worth it. But don't assume you need everything American society says you do to be happy. (While 1 in 5 are on antidepressants.) Test for yourself and see! (Wait! How did that soapbox get under me. Lol.

As far as enclosing under the yurt, I think that adds problems in addition to solutions. More mice and moisture. Warmer in the summer, perhaps? Definitely harder to access. For two winters I put bags of leaves around the perimeter and then a brown tarp. A lot of work, but looked nice. I would break it down in the spring. Last two years I left it open to see if it was noticeably colder, which I don't think it was. So I now just leave it open. Your platform doesn't look that high and snow coming from the roof may seal it up anyway. If those white things are the water pipes you'll want to protect them from snow sliding off the roof - even without the added cold protection.

Which reminds me of two other things. Anything stored under the yurt could become blocked in by frozen snow piles. So storing the kayaks and swimming noodles is fine, but not anything you might need - and definitely not the shovel you would need to chip away at that pile of ice.

Also snow sliding off the roof is VERY LOUD and initially terrifying. First few times you think the yurt is falling apart and your heart stops. Lol. But that is not truly dangerous. Always keep kids and pets away from the perimeter where the snow comes down if/when the roof has build up. Falling snow and ice chunks ARE very dangerous. Just something to be aware of. Overall - self clearing roofs in snow country are fantastic!!
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Old 11-01-2017, 10:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

That's a very well thought out, insightful post.
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

Thank you, Bob. That means a lot coming from you. ��
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Old 11-01-2017, 11:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

You're welcome.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

Bob and Pacific Yurts, I'll go with your advice and build the skirt out of plywood, not plastic sheet.

Wintergreen, ours is one of the more than 36,000 households in Maine still without power from the Sunday night storm. At least it's been mostly warm, fair weather, no trees fell on our yurt or cars, and we're nice and toasty with the woodstove. Hope you are faring similarly well in NH.

We have heat tape installed around the water line but it wouldn't do much good if we lost power when it's 10 below. We'll follow your advice and look into how to drain the pipes. It would be great to have a way to hand-pump from the well when the power's out but I don't know if that's possible (200ft in bedrock). I think our solution is going to be a small generator, at least for the near future, but we need to bring in the electrician to wire it.

Haha, yeah, I hear you, we considered not having indoor plumbing, but with a toddler in the house I think we will stay pretty jazzed about that particular convenience for the foreseeable future. Of course that comes with the inconvenience of having to put up the skirt to protect the pipes. A trade I'm willing to make. Thanks for the words of warning about snow/ice sloughing. We'll be cautious as we approach our first winter in the yurt.
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Old 11-11-2017, 01:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

Update: this week we went from warm and fair with no power to cold and sunny with power. Last night was in the low teens and our bathtub drain p-trap (which is below the floor joist space, exposed to the elements) froze up, which we didn't discover until my wife took a shower. After a quick trip to the hardware store for a heat gun and antifreeze, we are back in business. Just a reminder (as if I needed it) of how we really need? So why am I spending precious minutes posting here? A moment's procrastination break from the dissertation revisions I need to hand in next month. Never a dull moment!
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Seeking yurt winterization advice

As in Doctoral dissertations? Imma guess yurt gonna be a short time abode for you, Doc. lol Best on your education.
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