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lizsteve 11-15-2012 10:20 AM

Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We have the factory insulation for our dome, but we have 2 issues -

1. The metal crank rod that enables the dome to open and close gets in the way from sealing the insulation onto the velcro completely. Is this supposed to be removed to use the insulation on the dome, or should we cut a hole in the insulation so the rod can poke through?

2. We are heating with a wood stove and just this AM there was dripping from the dome (insulation mostly on except where the rod prevents it). I pulled the insulation off and there's so much condensation up there it is starting to drip. How can we avoid this happening?

Jafo 11-15-2012 01:24 PM

What type of yurt do you have (brand, size, options)?

lizsteve 11-15-2012 02:28 PM

Ours is Colorado, 27', with basically all options - 7 windows, full winter support package, open/closing dome.

Jafo 11-15-2012 04:35 PM

I am going to ping Melissa from Yurts of Hawaii on this as I am betting she has run into this before. I have yet to have an issue, but I do not insulate the dome. Just from thinking about it, I know that when I used to work construction many years ago, when we insulated an attic, we had to leave the soffit open because otherwise moisture would accumulate in the attic. In other words, the attic has to be able to breath.

I am guessing that you have the insulation under the dome, so perhaps you may want to leave the dome open just a crack to let the moisture out? That is just a educated guess on my part. I have no idea how that might affect heating or if it will allow snow to drift in.

I will ping Melissa now, though I know she has been quite busy lately.

Corinarose 11-15-2012 09:27 PM

This happened to me last winter until I put on the insulated cover
,yes I cut a hole to let the pole come thru
This year when I was up on a ladder I noticed a small gap that allowed air to leak in causing moisture. When I sealed that off the moisture stopped and that's without using the insulated cover
Some people I have talked with just open their dome which seems to reduce the moisture, I prefer to keep it close and sealed


Pacific Yurts 11-16-2012 12:38 PM

Condensation is typically a ventilation issue if the exterior coverings of the yurt are architectural fabrics. It sounds like lots of water vapor is being introduced into the yurt (showers, cooking, hanging of wet clothes, breathing, etc...) and not being vented back outside. A dehumidifier can help reduce the moisture content of the air inside the yurt, but the easiest way to reduce moisture is by opening the dome once in a while when the interior is warm. The warm moist air will rise up and out. The length of time the dome is opened and the frequency it needs to be opened to eliminate condensation will depend on how much water vapor is being introduced into the yurt.

I hope this helps!

Corinarose 11-16-2012 12:53 PM

Since I have no running water in my yurt and do not cook in there the only moisture was coming from breathing .
Once I fixed the gap the condensation stopped do I think in my situation it was from cold air leaking in and hitting the warm air in the dome
Also once I created an insulation barrier that allowed me to still see out the dome I could see that the moisture problem had been fixed

Perhaps if one is cooking, showering etcetera -adding moisture to the environment- then venting is a critical part of the environment


lizsteve 11-19-2012 01:15 PM

thanks all. yes, cook, have a sink and soon to be hot shower, plus hang clothes. Can't run a dehumidifier on solar electric but have a wood stove, which dries things out well too. We're just cracking dome on a warmer day for now letting out some moisture. Guess that'll due.

HawaiiYurts 11-26-2012 11:24 PM

Sorry for the delay! Good advice from others though. It's the nature of things, even glass... When heat meets cold, condensation occurs. It's increased with the humidity, but even without, you can get quite a bit of moisture going on. Think of how an icy glass of water will sweat on the outside...

So, in this case, yes, cut a slit for the crank. Not a hole, just a slit, to minimize how much heat can escape to the dome area. Leave the dome slightly cracked unless the weather doesn't allow for it, especially when raising the heat and humidity a lot inside. Venting a cooking area is ideal, though not always practical, as in your case with solar. Keep us posted!

homesweetyurt 10-29-2013 12:21 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I am having a similar issue and could use some help. We insulated with rigid foam in the ceiling and are now having moisture issues.

Water is dripping down around the bottom edges of the ceiling - where the roof meets the wall. Do we need to increase air movement and reduce the insulation top and bottom, or seal it tightly with a moisture barrier that tucks into the top of the walls? (Our walls are insulated with drywall covering) Or something else? We really want a tighly insulated yurt since we live in it year round.

Help! We are really worried about water damage and mold if we don't take care of it quickly.

Jafo 10-29-2013 12:29 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
What are you heating your yurt with?

lizsteve 10-29-2013 12:50 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Interesting. we are getting ready to insulate our ceiling next weekend with rigid foam.
How long did it take you? Cutting the foam to fit the triangles seems like a big hassle but hopefully worth it.

Did you find it to much warmer? Given the walls and dome aren't well insulated, I'm worried it won't make a difference since heat manages to find the weakest point.

When you say your walls are insulated with drywall covering, what's that?

When we have condensation issues, we just crack the dome some. But dripping down in between the side wall insulation and cover would be a problem. I wonder if something like Tyvec should be put on when we insulate the roof...

We are heating with wood.

Pacific Yurts 10-29-2013 01:14 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
If the issue is condensation ventilation is key, but what you describe could be leakage. If your top cover has a valance (part of the top cover that overlaps the wall) that is sewn on you may have water infiltrating through the stitching. If this is the case you can apply seam sealer to stop the water from wicking through. You should also do a visual inspection of the top cover on that side of the yurt to be sure there is no puncture or tear.

Corinarose 10-29-2013 03:52 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
These are good questions as I am getting ready to do the same
~insulate walls and roof
I notice condensation on the dome when there is air coming in meeting the cold. so I put extra rubber gaskets in and the condensation stopped.
I do know of someone who actually replaced their cloth fabric with wood siding and same for roof after deciding that a well insulated place was a priority.
If there are any builders who are in cold climates I would love to hear the answers to these questions.
A fan at or near the dome also helps to deflect heat and keep air moving.

Moisture builds up between the insulated walls and the exterior walls (same for ceiling)
but if the bottom of the wall where it is screwed in allows for some air it seem to help with reducing mold. Of course the interior insulated waal should be on the outside of the lip of the bender board~ learned that one the hard way, with mold growing along the interior of the bender board.
Not sure if that was clear, but the more we can share what works and what doesnt work the better all our lives are.
Happy living in the round

Jafo 10-29-2013 06:27 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I know some people who heat with gas and it contains a LOT of moisture. A wood stove provides a nice dry heat. I agree, ventilation sounds like the issue if it is not leakage.

homesweetyurt 10-29-2013 07:34 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We are heating with wood, but have a propane water heater and fridge.

It is definitely a condensation, not leakage, problem. I think we need to seal it up better so the inside air is not reaching the yurt cover above the insulation. It is much worse when the temps are extreme from inside to outside. We have a lot of cracks between the insulation and the rafters where air is reaching the roof cover, I am planning on gap sealing those over the next week or so and hope that fixes the problem.

The rigid foam was a big improvement! It was 20 outside this morning and 51 inside without a fire (we had let the fire go out earlier in the day). The only mistake we made cutting and installing the rigid foam was that we attached the snow kit first, so the rafters where stuck in place. We had to measure each section and cut to fit, rather than cutting a bunch from a template and wiggling the rafters to make it work.

And our walls are denim insulation, so they absorb water like crazy. Then are covered with drywall. So we want to keep them very dry!

Jafo 10-29-2013 07:57 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I think you need to vent out the condensation somehow, I would imagine with the dome.

Corinarose 10-29-2013 08:05 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
So if ventilation is a problem with the architectural fabrics most if not all of us are using,
Then how does one ventilate the roof and walls while insulating (cellulose, denim, Roxul)
To gain a better R factor
Most I know who are currently living in yurts heat with wood stove with some having backup heat of some sort.
The biggest complaint of those of us in cold climates is the lack of insulation

Corinarose 10-29-2013 08:12 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
What type of rigid foam did you use and how is it staying in place?
Yes sealing all gaps makes sense.
Somehow a fan seems like it might help
I am getting ready to take this on and all the issues you are confronting are exactly what I have wondered about

Jafo 10-29-2013 08:28 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
The only thing I can think of is to have another layer of plexiglass covering the ring, UNDER the dome, but on top of the rafters, if that makes sense. Then you could open the dome to vent out what made it past the insulation. I think the plexiglass would have to have a thick foam rubber gasket around the perimeter to keep air loss from happening inside the yurt.

The one downside I see is that you would not be able to open/close the dome while the glass was installed. You would have to open it before you installed (for the winter).

Most homes have a vent in the attic and/or eves to vent out moisture. This isn't an issue solely for yurts.

homesweetyurt 10-29-2013 09:19 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We used rmax? Some of it stayed on it's own if we cut it well. We used some scrap boards across multiple rafters to hold the middles up as we worked.

Each section needed two pieces, the bottom (at the wall) stays on it's own and the very top (at the dome) was a tight enough fit to stay also. It was where the two pieces met in the middle that needed some support - not all of them though, some stay on their own.

We haven't decided on a ceiling yet, but whatever we use will hold them up more permanently then the scrap wood.

Any brilliant ceiling ideas? (cheap, DIY, and attractive)

Corinarose 10-29-2013 10:29 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
How about a parachute? They sell them used online

MT Rod 10-30-2013 07:04 AM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I am going to jump in the discussion here, but I am a little hesitant. Think of this as market research, not as marketing to the group which I am trying to avoid doing. This really seems like the right place in the discussion to bring it up.

The condensation issue has been one of my interests here. I have had trouble with condensation, mildew and mould in the past in conventional (but poorly) insulated housing, and I think it is a good topic for all yurt-folk, yurt-oholics and yurticians to think about. My wife and I both have issues, maybe allergies (but maybe not), involving mildew and mould, though my wife's are more severe. Fans, heaters, dehumidifiers, I have used then all.

In the past I have dealt with the problem by making a space behind all the furniture and such, to keep it at least 2" from the wall, and then using/making air flow along the wall so that condensation can't build up easily. Forced air heating is a bit wasteful in energy, but it is helpful in keeping down the amount of condensation.

I am really curious to hear from some of the yurticians who live with radiant floor heating. Does this seem to help with the condensation issue? The only yurts I have been around in very cold weather used wood or coal heat, and they are both famous/infamous for drying out the air inside your space. A notably good thing in a yurt, but I am really interested in the radiant floor heating idea. If the heat source was propane, and it was inside, I can see where that might add to the problem if it wasn't vented.

Now for the market research I was mentioning. Last weekend I attended the Canton Trade Fair.

One of the companies I talked to makes a 12 volt multi-speed (3? 5? I don't remember now), ceiling fan with a remote control. I was intrigued by the idea and have really been thinking about sending some to the states as a test case.

Using an 80 watt solar panel and a 12 volt 50AH battery, they say it will fully recharge in a "day", (but a solar day varies greatly depending on where you are and time of year), and it says it can run for 10+ hours on a charge, somewhat dependant on what speed you chose to run it.

There is no light in this fan like you sometimes see in ceiling fans but I am not sure why not. 12V LEDs are common and could use very little additional power depending on their choice.

It can come with a 120V to 12V transformer so if you have grid, or need to use your generator to top off your batteries after a string of dull days, but I can't see any advantage to a 12V DC product if you have grid power.

I am ordering a sample fan this afternoon to have a look for myself at the quality of the product, and I will set it up in my solar laboratory.... the clothes drying porch. Apartment living makes me a little crazy, and I think me in an apartment makes my wife a little crazy.

Pricing should work out to be in the neighborhood of $85 - $99. and it does not come with the solar panel or battery. I'm not too excited, because it might turn out to be a piece of poop, but I won't know until I look.

Summer or winter, I think it could be a good thing. I have been looking for something like this so I can use it in my own (off grid) yurt.

They also make 12V desk and standing rechargeable fans, but at this point they are't too interesting to me.

On a (even further to the) side note, the Canton Fair is a lot of fun, It helps me keep my sanity here. I get there one day every 6 months, and it is a huge show. It covers 15 acres, several floors deep, the products change every week, and it lasts for 3 weeks, 2 times a year. They have lots of stuff to look at and I get to see only one tiny little part in a day.

I have several new 12V LED things to play with that I brought back from the show. I just need more time to play. Someday...

Home Page.

lizsteve 10-30-2013 10:57 AM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Re: covering insulation. We're also looking at parachutes. There's a small handful of large enough non-rainbow colored ones I have seen. Not super cheap but not too pricey compared to fabric from a store. I have seen $200-300. I like the idea of painters fabric. On top of the fabric we plan to put a thin strip of wood on each rafter to hold the parachute up and keep the feel of having the visual rafters look.

We have been living in our for a year+ so also have already installed the winter package. Interesting thought to move the rafters and studs so they are all equal distance apart AND then do the foam. We have installed a lot of shelving within studs though, so we still will have some funky sizes.

I'm worried about little foam specs falling all over our house...

We're also going to install a fan up the dome. More to keep heat down, but I suppose it might help with condensation.

BCyurt 11-21-2013 01:34 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We have fixed our condensation problem in the back bedrooms along the bottom of the wall where it meet the drip edge. i lifted up the side cover and cut strips of bat style insulation about 3" x 1" thick to seal the gap and it has solved the problem. I think I will also seal the valance the same way.

Gypsykat23 11-24-2013 05:30 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Hi I am having the same problem. It is driving me crazy. I insulated the ceiling with traditional insulation and covored it with thin plywood door skin. It looks and works great but has started dripping all over. I open the dome all the time but it still drips around the edges and cracks seams. What a mess we are in and just the start of winter. contact me if you want [email protected]

Jafo 11-24-2013 05:36 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Is there a space between the insulation and the roof? I would think you would need this space so the air inside could travel up to the opened dome.

homesweetyurt 11-24-2013 05:48 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We spent the weekend filling all the edges of the rafters with expanding foam and are hoping it will work to keep any warm air from getting up above the insulation. (We just have a few more spots to do once we get more foam from town tomorrow.)

I'll keep you posted and let you know if it works or not. I think it may take at least a few days to see a significant reduction in the dripping.

Gypsykat23 11-24-2013 05:54 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I did not leave a space between the skin and the insulation. I just thought by filling the space it would be air tight and not let moisture in. When its cold there is actually a thin sheet of ice on the inside of the skin. Its a yurtigloo. Yay. I am worried about mold but it to cold to take it out?

Jafo 11-24-2013 06:31 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Heat will always get through no matter what you do, and when it touches the cold skin, it will create condensation. That is why you always leave space in the attic of a house. Well, maybe somebody else has dealt with this before and has a better idea, but I would think there would have to be a gab between the insulation and the roof and then a way for the air in between to circulate outside.

Also, I should note that I have no condensation issues, but I am just using the reflectix insulation.

stephanwik 11-25-2013 02:39 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
It's starting to get cold here (well, it is Sweden after all) and we too are working on winterising our yurts. After the last gale off of the North Sea we realised that we had to do something to improve the insulation. You could actually feel the wind 'stealing' the heat from the yurt.

I think we could have left the yurts the way they were but the amount of wood we would need to keep them warm seemed like a bit of a waste. So we've started to experiment with relatively low cost solutions.

We've had a lot of success with EarthWool. We've simply tucked sheets of EarthWool between the rafters supports and hung a cotton liner in front of it. Total cost for insulating the walls of the 24' yurt was about 140.

We have no condensation problems and the air quality inside the yurts is excellent. We haven't insulated the roof (yet).

We did initially test with putting some builder's plastic between the EarthWool and the inside cotton liner, but discovered that condensation soon formed between the EarthWool and the Reflectix. Once we removed the plastic everything was fine.

Jafo 11-25-2013 04:25 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation

That is a good point. Perhaps those here who are trying the roof insulation, did not cover it with non-breathable materials like foam board, plastics, etc, it would help with condensation? I like the idea of a cotton liner, that might work perfect in conjunction with the dome being cracked open slightly. It allows the water vapor to escape.

homesweetyurt 01-12-2014 12:38 PM

Re: Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
Well, the attempt to seal the cracks did not work - it's still dripping inside and we stopped all moisture - creating activities that we could. At this point I would not recommend anything other than fully breathable insulation (natural fibers) inside a yurt.

And the rigid foam is nasty about filling the air with plastic particles when cut. It isn't too bad once secured in place though, but I would not do it again. I wish it hadn't been recommended to us, but we are toasty warm...

I will keep you all posted about our future attempts to remedy the problem. We are talking with Pacific Yurts to see if they have any ideas or can find someone who did this successfully. If anyone else does use rigid foam adn it doesn't drip, maybe with a moisture barrier on the inside? Please post details!

Jafo 01-18-2014 04:09 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I was just working on the yurtinfo.org makeover, and came across this place:

Bonded Logic - Construction Products - UltraTouch Denim Insulation

They have a few different types of insulation that might be helpful.

Matt 12-30-2014 04:59 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I also have this issue. I live in Ely, MN where winters are quite frigid. My yurt (Pacific Yurts) is completely insulated (5.5" foam under floor, 2 layers of Bonded Logic denim insulation in walls, and 5.5" foam between 2x6 rafters). The inside humidity level stays between 32-45% yet I still get abundant ice build-up and dripping on the dome. The water runs down on top of the foam. I'm also worried this will cause mold and rot. I have considered installing window plastic under the dome to reduce heat transfer and condensation. Has anyone else tried this? I wish one of the yurt companies offered an insulated glass dome.

Jafo 12-30-2014 05:02 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I wish I knew the answer.. I think at some point though, a winter dome will need to be developed that allows the yurt to vent. Just my opinion though.

homesweetyurt 12-30-2014 06:37 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
We placed a vapor barrier to cover the ceiling this fall and it appears to have reduced our ice build up. We still have dripping in a few places though - most noticably above our door. This spring we will remove the exterior side wall and check for moisture and mold in case the vapor barrier is just channeling the water down into the walls now instead of allowing it to drip all over our house.

I have felt the top of the wall insulation in a few places though and it seems fairly dry. We will post our results this spring in the hopes of helping others with this problem.

Also, we attempted some ventilation, but a yurt just isn't designed for it. We tried to vent above the door with some pipes put above the door fame into the roof and leaving the dome open, but with no visible improvement. Our current experiment is to seal as much of the roof off from interior moisture as possible. We will let you know our thoughts after this winter.

homesweetyurt 12-30-2014 06:38 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
And Matt - we found that having the dome open whenever we are cooking or bathing also helps so my initial thoughts are not to seal it off. Anything is worth a try though - please report back if you find any good solutions!

Jafo 12-30-2014 06:41 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I am wondering if a dome could not be modified with PVC to allow ventilation, and then the dome could be replaced during summer months?

dlhall 12-30-2014 11:14 PM

Re: Yurt Dome Insulation Install and Condensation
I'm very impressed with the lack of condensation in our yurt. Yes, we get some......2 adults showering, cooking, laundry drying, tracked in snow melting, etc but not bad at all.....the dome is open just enough to slide my hand in and has been all winter. We heat with wood & infloor heating. There are times the windows fog up but then it dissipates ..... What I think truly helps is I didn't mess with the way my yurt is designed to work. Despite the fact it's carved up into rooms no interior wall is attached to the exterior.....4 inch gap, same as around the floor of the loft. Air naturally moves by convection and moisture vents out the dome, it might take a bit of heat but who cares? The infloor heating is set to keep yurt at 50F when stove goes out and that constant slow heat dries out tracked in snow and laundry hung in bathroom to dry is dry in 24 hrs. I'm sure that leaving my yurt alone by not sealing things up or covering with plastic etc really helps. It's not sealed up real tight and all 6 windows are just zip out clear vinyl. It just all works great! No moisture build up anywhere & no mold or musty smells.

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