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Jafo 08-03-2015 01:50 AM

Re: R-value?
I tend to think yurts do better with less insulation when you take condensation into the equation. I would rather burn a little more wood than deal with the issues YITW describes above.

YurtInTheWoods 08-06-2015 09:41 AM

Re: R-value?
Hey Bob,

Thanks for the ideas. I'm not entirely sure how the breathable materials would work... as soon as we encounter a tarp its an issue. So basically the interior tarp is soaked all the time... the tarp itself is fine and cleanable, but anything it is even near will mold including its own structure... all the wood all the lattice all the flooring near it (and spreading inward... cuz thats how mold works)... which means absolutely no wood or fabric of any kind next to the walls (including the walls and floors)... I had an early 1800's trunk from Scotland passed down trough my family sitting way more than a foot away from an exterior wall... that was COATED in mould after one month... i managed to save most of it but I had to strip off much of the leather on the back... so basically its ruined and worthless now... awesome. I had another piece of furnature only near an exterior wall, but, near the wood stove and it was also ruined and covered in mold up the back which was just synthetic... anything that is even near the walls in the cold will become condensated along with the walls. If we were to remove the interior tarp it would be a massive issue with the reflective insulation. If we remove the reflective insulation alltogether we are still looking at an entirely waterproof outside layer that will end up with more severe issues due to a lack of any buffer from the cold. Yurts constructed with any felt have been reported to do extremely poorly in these climates with *drum roll* mold issues lol. I don't know if the insulation is soaked too... I would imagine it is also, but I don't dare start taking it apart to find out or we'll be completely screwed. Its better to not know at this point and work hard and fast to build a better structure to save our bacon (and the bank) The doors are shot with mold also.

Honestly if I was going to invest in building another yurt to tent this problem yurt... I'm just going to build a real house and solve all my issues in one (this is the plan).

We also had another yurt... our other yurt was unheated and not used most of the year and as a basically uninsulated structure it would suffer from temperatures fluxuations due to the day and night temp flux (which is normal)... if it wasn't constantly being opened up wide and closed to control the condensation we would have lost it as well. Even with the dome open on cool fall days with only a bit of sun (not a warm day) the middle of the floor would have a puddle on it. It would ruin anything sitting anywhere under it. No structure is immune to mold, but most structures can withstand it to some degree with modern basic building codes ... yurts just cannot handle this climate on any level. In a more temperate climate I'm sure they are fine, but they should not be sold with such unwavering confidence to northern customers... but like I said... I have a basic grasp on how condensations works and I should have been able to arrive at this before embarking on this. I just wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. If interested consumers want to listen thats great it'll save them a lot of money (cuz yurt investments aren't cheap!!!) and... if they don't... oh well.

I would have appreciated the heads up... but there were none. Everyone seems enamored with yurts, but I can't understand why at this point. When I bought this place I was a single mom with two small kids and one with a lifelong disability, trying to do something better for my family than a drafty old farmhouse with a never ending supply of costly repairs and moldy spore environment. I took all the money I had saved and put it into this... and lost it all... and instead of a list of costly repairs... I pretty much am fixing to loose the entire investment at this point. Repairs and dumping more money into rigging up ways to compensate the structure short-comings would be very costly and throwing good money after bad.

Thank you tho Bob. I really appreciate the time you took to care and offer help.

Bob Rowlands 08-06-2015 08:15 PM

Re: R-value?
Wish I could give helpfull advice instead of comments. Yurt was likely developed in dry climate. I'm really at a loss to help. Sorry.

Jafo 08-07-2015 09:12 AM

Re: R-value?
I am sorry, but I forgot what climate you are in YITW?

YurtInTheWoods 08-07-2015 08:23 PM

Re: R-value?
It's okay Bob. It's been distressing but we've come to terms with our loss. Id really like to spare anyone else in our climate from going through this loss as well. Now its just a matter of getting out in time to recover my health and not go deeper into debt trying to recover our property while making a new place to live.

Jafo we live in Atlantic Canada in the maritimes (PEI). It's not particularly cold here compared to the midland provinces and states. We get to -30 C tops. Lots of snow. The snow helps to slow the problem of condensation a bit by adding much needed insulation.

Along with our massive stove and is huge ability to output heat... we burn more than 12 cord of wood in one winter. Is not enough to reduce the condensation. Honestly we can't run it wide open enough to dry up any of the condensation. It doesn't stop it. If we did... we would be burning more than double in a season for 700 sq feet and it's so hot we can't be in the yurt with it on high for very long. By winters end we had more than 18 feet of snow. It was only in a near snow encased igloo setting that we had temporary relief... almost.

It's worse when we have no snow and it's only -15C. You can really see the problems snowball quickly in only a few weeks you can see the mold spreading. I've ended up having to douse the extreme mild infected areas with isopropyl alcohol to try to stem the growth for a couple of weeks to get relief from migraines and breathing issues.

I'm not looking forward to fall and the respiratory issues that await!

I'm married now to a lifelong carpenter whose the lead foreman of his company for nearly 15 years. Excellent skills and reputation etc. He took over the mortgage of this property and has an active interest with the bank to see to it that this place doesn't fall to ruin... but even with all his training, understanding and experience of building in this climate esp... he has made it clear this is a losing battle. We've given it our all to fix the issues. We just need to jump ship and hopefully one day financially recover from it.

Bob Rowlands 08-08-2015 12:36 PM

Re: R-value?
Damp yields decay and a return to the earth from which they orginated. Thats the cycle of life. The thinner the materials the less mass and faster they degrade. Skinny laths and organic cover degrade fast in dampness. Even heavy log dwellings eventually return to the earth. If we had no water we would have no life though. All part of what I call 'the Grand design'.

Jafo 08-08-2015 03:50 PM

Re: R-value?
I just find it odd that I have had basically zero humidity issues. Granted, I am not living in one full time, but I do stay at mine for weeks at a time and haven't had this problem.

YITW, do you have framed out rooms in your yurt? Is your shower and/or laundry inside? Do you have a dishwasher? Do you use a lot of propane?

I am sorry that I am asking so many questions, but I am trying to come up with some reasons why it happens in your yurt and not mine. I am in upstate NY in the snowbelt off of lake Ontario where we get similar snowfall every year.

YurtInTheWoods 08-09-2015 01:16 PM

Re: R-value?
Hey Jaffo,

I don't mind the questions. I understand the concern really. Its a devastating event to loose your home and this much money invested. I honestly would invite you into our home to observe it for yourself.

I don't know how big your yurt is but ours is 30 feet. Half is open. There is a loft over a bedroom and a bathroom. The bedroom is laced in mold and the bathroom doesn't have any. Same size room same air flow and the ceiling is open so there is a half foot vent around the exterior wall for air to pass easily. I can't figure that out... you would figure the bathroom would have issue as well esp considering the utilities included. The yurt is fully plummed by a professional. In the bathroom is the washer and dryer. We use only cold water to wash and we don't use the dryer... at most once a week. The bedroom has no utilities, but the room across the hall with the same heat circulation with the shower sink and washer and dryer is completely mold free.

In the other half of the open space of the yurt without any walls in the way across the room without any furnature blocking the yurt is moldy. So, no walls or anything restricting the heat (and this part of the room can get very warm with the wood stove).

The only thing these two sections of the Yurt have in common is that while the other unaffected side is facing north where the wind comes from in winter... it is about 30 and 50 feet from a thick tree line to help reduce the northern storms that hit. The molded side (south facing) faces a small yard that is tree lined but the trees are a couple hundred feet away instead. This should be acceptable since Yurts aren't sold with any limitation of open spaces around... and this isn't the direction our winter weather comes from... it comes east or north or in the form of a winter hurricane which doesn't matter where the trees are lol.

We don't have propane only wood.

I am the unfortunate dishwasher in this house. We have used conservative old school methods to wash dishes/conserve water. 2 weeks ago I finally got a dishwasher. The super eco friendly type etc. It hasn't played a role in the issues, anyway.

I suffer with severe eczema on my hands from the dryness of wood heat. Truthfully I should be using a vaporizer to help alieviate the condition, but I don't dare. I can't use a dehumidifier or I'll just simply curl up and die from this skin condition if it gets any drier.

You can feel free to ask me any questions you feel might help. The good Lord knows we're at the end of our figuring and remedies. I just feel that extreme steps or exponentially more work to try to remedy a basic living situation with all normal living elements and care already in play is unreasonable. A yurt should produce at least an "as good" as conventional building standards product... not the reverse. If people have to bend over backwards to try to stem very basic issues that aren't a problem in regular houses and recreational cottages... its not really a practical or suitable situation.

hierony 08-10-2015 10:02 AM

Re: R-value?
I had the lower half of a duplex once where the bathroom fan wasn't so great--take a nice hot shower, open the door a little and all the moisture would disperse to the rest of the place. In winter it would condense on the exterior wall in my bedroom, giving me mold/mildew issues. The place was probably saved by the fact the windows were very leaky (age and weathering).

The way we build things continues to evolve and change (just ask Bob)--yurts were developed over many centuries in a very different climate with very different materials with very different practices. It'll take some time to work out all the kinks here in our various climates and with our modern materials.

Do you have a bathroom or kitchen vent at all? Also be aware that lots of humans breathing will produce a fair amount of moisture, too. Have you monitored the amount of humidity in yurt or the surface temps of your walls? I might suggest a dehumidifier or dessicants (Calcium Chloride is a pretty good one), depending on humidity levels.

For what it's worth: when I moved from wet West Washington to dry Eastern Washington, my knuckles cracked and bleed in the winter. I had to make sure my hands were _thoroughly_ dry after washing them; also, I had to lay off the soap for hand washing (the oils help retain moisture in the skin).

A note on your trees: if setup as a wind block, they protect for something like 5-8 times their height. It sounds like your southern trees are too far away to do that.

I'm sorry about your problems--it sounds like it's been quite the pain! I hope you can recover/save your investment.

YurtInTheWoods 08-17-2015 08:55 AM

Re: R-value?
Thanks for your sympathies.

We can't salvage the yurt. In one year the temps dropped to -30 C and there was little to no way to keep up with the new level of condensation. I get the feeling people here think its just a little bit of water and a little bit of build up. Its not. If just breathing in a structure is going to offset its balance so severely... it shouldn't be marketed. I don't want my full time job just trying to find ways to sop up the constant freezing icy melty running messes. Thats what its become. The trees are far away on the south side of the property, but realistically... I shouldn't need a fortress of trees to prevent a basic issue. Its not a stipulation of requirements in living in a yurt either. Yes the trees are a distance away, but that shouldn't qualify as a passable reason why the yurt is failing.

If they are still only in the early stages of working out kinks for the regions they actively market towards, its crummy that the experimentation of this new structure came at OUR multiplied 10's of 1000 of dollars.

Its okay tho, I get that no one really wants to believe the issues are as bad as im saying... or that i spend more than half our day with the dome open windows cracked and sometimes open fully, ceiling fans, fans upstairs, fans on the stove fans in the bedroom, wood stove blazing and the thresholds are a constantly state of melting ice, the dome is dripping with water, the walls are running and streaked with water constantly.

I've met and exceeded all stipulations.

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