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KiwiCouple 06-06-2014 02:53 AM

New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
Hi we just built a yurt and got married! The yurt is our first home together and we are super excited to be living this way.

We bought our yurt secondhand from family friends. The model is a 6m diameter that was imported directly from Mongolia and has all the traditional construction techniques.

We have been having water problems though since we erected it on a 6m round deck.

The problem is our wool fleece insulation seems to be really really wet all the time. We are coming into winter now for us and have had quite a bit of rain the last couple weeks and our canvas flap over our dome has begun dripping. Our fleece is wet all the way around. If you reach under the canvas and squeeze it anywhere around the yurt you can ring it out like a wet cloth.

It's quite bizarre as we can't find any obvious leaks. The water in it seems disproportionate to the amount of any given rainfall. So we suspect water is getting trapped and building up somehow.

Does anyone have any advice on how to repair this? We are considering options such as, (1) replacing the entire canvas when we can, (2) building a canvas fly overtop the yurt (this has serious drawbacks for my wife's gardens though and prevents us finishing installation with a fireplace, (3) Trying to get the canvas re waterproofed.

Any experience or suggestions that can be offered would be immensely helpful thanks.

Jafo 06-06-2014 08:06 AM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
It sounds to me like you are experiencing moisture issues like many other yurt dwellers with that type of insulation:

moisture - Yurt Forum - A Yurt Community - Threads Tagged with Moisture

Believe it or not, much of this moisture is probably coming from the INSIDE, not the outside, though I cannot be sure about that without seeing it.

Tell me, are you using propane a lot?

One thing that is a must is to vent the moisture. At my yurt camp, I normally crack the dome a little bit and fire up the wood stove and except for really muggy days, this seems to do the trick. However, I am not living in my yurt 24/7 like you are.

There have been a lot of threads here about people battling moisture issues and I have yet to see any perfect solutions. The answer itself is proper venting, just like any other structure. However, HOW you vent a yurt is where the answers end lol. Traditional homes usually have attics of some kind where you can put vent pipes and sofits in place to release the moisture. No chance of this working well in a yurt (IMO).

If it were me, I would try to vent the yurt manually as I described, at least once a day, or whenever possible. Try to limit moisture creation in the yurt. Things that create moisture are propane, boiling water, drying laundry inside, showers, etc..

I hope this is helpful!


Jafo 06-06-2014 08:07 AM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
Oh and BTW, CONGRATULATIONS on getting married! :)

Bob Rowlands 06-06-2014 05:00 PM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
If your secondhand yurts insulation is literally sopping wet I'm thinking heavy continuous rainfall of NZ is penetrating through a worn out exterior cover. Until you can replace the cover, a cheap solution is to rig a large poly tarp over the entire yurt. A tarp big enough to cover your 6m yurt will not be expensive and would be available at Home Depot or Lowes, or Harbor Freight. (order online if necessary)

Figure a way to rig a ridge line of heavy static type non stretch rope, nylon webbing or whatever. Pull the tarp over it and securely anchor it using all the grommets possible. I do this when we camp and while it will billow and flap in a storm it will keep out the water. That tarp would get you through until a new cover comes.

If you have a wood stove in there just cut out an area for the pipe to pass through. You need immediate protection from the rain and this will work.

I agree about interior water getting into the insulation as well. You have to vent the moisture generated inside the yurt. It may be obvious but open the dome lid and/or any windows you have when bathing and cooking.

I highly reccomend a wood stove to help dry the yurt since wood stoves dry wet items very quickly. Try and find a used one if funds are tight, and usually they are for newlyweds. Been there myself. Congrats as well :D

Good luck.

KiwiCouple 06-08-2014 03:54 PM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
Hi guys,

Thanks so much for your help. Ya, the leaking has become a serious problem. Some of the moisture in the fleece is probably due to condensation, but the canvas is definitely leaking. We came back from the honeymoon to find the yurt soaked through with water all over the floor. We had to move all of our stuff out and get it dried out. We removed the square top roof flap over the weekend and re-waterproofed it, thinking that might have been the problem.

However, water leaked straight through it, and my husband and I were out there in the downpour at 1:30 this morning trying to get a tarp over the yurt. It seems to have stopped most of the leakage, but obviously we need a more long term solution.

The waterproofing product ("Bradproof") we've been using is clearly no good, as the the top flap, along with the rest of the yurt that we painted with it, still lets water through like a sieve.

Any suggestions as to why this might be? Is the stuff we bought a dud, or is there something wrong with our canvas that means it can't be re-proofed?

We do have a wood stove- we purchased it along with the yurt- but haven't been able to install it yet. The flue is designed to pass out the top dome, meaning we have to fold the roof flap back... allowing rain to come streaming down through the hole in the roof. And of course, the yurt is currently covered in a large blue plastic tarp.

We're keen to get it up and running as soon as we can though- if we have to be wet, at least we can be warm.

Again, thanks so much to everyone for their messages of support.

Bob Rowlands 06-08-2014 11:29 PM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
You have to keep the water out and get the wood stove set up and warming the yurt immediately. Cut a hole in the tarp about a foot bigger than your stove pipe. If you don't have a double wall pipe-get one asap. If there is no suppplier around, order one online. Double wall is safe, single wall IS NOT SAFE near a stove pipe. Also get a stove pipe cap and spark arrestor for the new pipe. This is all stop gap but you need to have a warm dry place asap from the sound of it. Everything will dry out once that wood stove is installed.

I can't say what is up with your canvas, but it isn't worth squat. Don't spend another cent messing with it. Buy a heavy duty double fill canvas tarp four feet wider than your yurt diameter and lay it over the existing cover. 'Cover Me tarps' is where I bought mine. The cover for my yurt was 20x20 and I have a 16' yurt. it is perfect with plenty of wall overlap. I just tuck the tarp down under the uppermost tension bands until I could custom fit it to the roof.

Make a hole in the new tarp cover for the pipe to go through. Make it a foot bigger than the double wall stove pipe. You can hem the new tarp cover and deal with all the details later when the rain stops.

Good luck

Bob Rowlands 06-08-2014 11:51 PM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
If interested in the canvas tarp option I suggested, google: cover me tarps and canopies

on the main page, click on: water resistant cotton canvas tarps

I bought the 20x20, 17oz, water resistance treated, HD canvas tarp. They shipped it very fast. I'm VERY happy with the tarp. As long as you have a tall double wall stove pipe and spark arrestor, flame retardancy won't be an issue. I suggest the stove pipe poke a good three feet up out of the yurt. You should have 8" side clearance from the double wall pipe to combustibles. On a yurt that is no problem. This is a good tarp that WILL solve your immediate water problem for a very reasonable cost and a minimal wait.

Marshall Eppley 06-10-2014 11:41 AM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
Cover me tarps has covered every yurt i have built but one. They are a good company and price are good. For a cheap wood stove i would go with one of those barrel kits that you can by at tractor supply or on line this option would be cheap and get you through in a pinch. good luck hope you get through this without to much stress.

Bob Rowlands 06-10-2014 12:19 PM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
Good idea Marshall. 30 gallon barrel plus the barrel stove kit = ~affordability + WARMTH to drive off the chills and dry out clothes and the interior. Whatever you got for a heat source, fire that sucker up. Cold damp quarters are NO fun. Been there and done that, and it was on our honeymoon at that.

Once again, I highly suggest getting a new HD canvas tarp over the old cover, PRONTO. You can deal with all the details of fitting cutting sewing during the 'dry' season.

Marshall Eppley 06-11-2014 11:04 AM

Re: New Zealand Yurt Insulation soaked!
I made the mistake of moving my yurt with the neighbors dogs running lose they walked all over my roof tarp and turned it into a sieve. so i know all about damp.

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