I need help with ventilation...so frustrated!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by leithsloft, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. leithsloft

    leithsloft Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2014
    Gaylord, MI
    I live in Northern Michigan. We have had snow since October. Over 55 inches so far. The daily humidity is between 87 and 98 percent. It has dropped down to 2 degrees and will get to 20/30 below by Jan. My coop was a bunkhouse formally and we turned it into a coop last spring when we decided on Chickens. It is 13x13, insulated with 2 windows. I have 8 chickens/2 guineas. I have holes drilled at the top on the South and North sides for ventilation. There is an attached 8x13 run that we covered in clear vinyl shower curtains for the winter. I put a humidity meter in the coop and it reads, 95% most days. So I bought an exhaust fan and installed it on the north peak front hoping it would help remove the moisture. It stated it would work up to 150 sq feet. It doesn't. Hubby states, if its 95% humid outside, it will be 95% inside, no way to get around it. My Isa Brown already has some frostbite on her comb. I decided to put in a 250 watt red heat bulb secured with chains that is directed towards their roost. It helps, (temps stayed 6 to 7 degrees warmer inside) but I cant sleep due to worry of fire when its on. Today I am considering buying a flat panel heater to keep the coop at 15 degrees, but I still have the moisture issue regardless and heat added will start to mold litter, etc. I am so frustrated and out of ideas. Can anyone offer any advice as I am ready to give up! I read all the ventilation threads/advice but when the outside humidity is this high everyday...what do you do? A dehumidifier will only work in temps over 50 degrees, so that's out. My deep litter of 12 inches of straw is damp. Its new straw as of 3 weeks ago. Help!! Thanks, Renee
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It's true that whatever the outside humidity is with a well ventilated coop, the inside will be the same. I have the same problem. However I don't wrap anything with plastic and the big windows are wide open.

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    1st, open the coop up and lose the plastic. It's keeping the moisture trapped in there.
    Even if your outside humidity is 90% the combination of feces and respiration will up it to rainforest status.
    Secondly, lose the straw, it will never dry out.
    Instead, once you get the windows open and gable vents installed, switch to either dry sand or stall type pine shavings.
    A few holes along the roofline isn't ventilation. With 10 birds you really should have about 10 sq. ft. of openings.

    Roosters with huge combs and wattles are the only ones I get frostbite on. Even large combed ancona, leghorn, Minorca and penedesenca hens don't get frostbite when the fresh air blows right through. While this isn't Northern Michigan, it hit -19 here last winter.

    The cold won't hurt them, the excess humidity and lack of fresh air will.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. leithsloft

    leithsloft Out Of The Brooder

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  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I hope so too. Good job on getting it dry. Now keep it that way.
    Be careful with water in the coop too.
    Where are you keeping their water?
    It's best to keep the water outside the coop. As long as they have access to the run during the day, they won't need water at night.
    If it's inside, make sure it can't spill.
     
  5. leithsloft

    leithsloft Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2014
    Gaylord, MI
    Their water is in the run. It's a 3 gallon heated one, so it stays outside. This morning the humistat still is 95% in the coop as it is outside and there is frozen condensation again overnight on the windows. I cant leave the windows open as there are very large (5x4) and it was breezy last night and about 19 degrees. The coop stayed at 24 degrees. They would be subjected to a direct breeze if I leave them open. I was told at the farm store yesterday that my wood floor is the issue as it is 2 feet above the soil and the moisture from the ground has no where to go but up through the floor? I'm not sure if they are correct. If so, I would have to rebuild it to lower it to ground level and take out the wood floor.The only wet areas when I removed all the straw was the areas that I laid vinyl flooring down. I ripped that out also. I will give it a few days and see. If it still stays damp, I'm at a loss of what to do till spring. I think I would have to take the roof off to get it right! They are use to the cold, I'm not concerned about that. I let them out of the run everyday and follow them around in the shoveled maze I keep up for them. They love the snow and dig to find grass under it where I shovel.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    They could have a good point but lowering it closer to the ground would make it worse.
    I still say you don't have enough ventilation. Condensation proves my point. You probably don't have condensation anywhere else on your property.
    I have big windows at roost height with just a small bit of wall at the end of each roost. That cold breeze blows right through but there's no condensation. In the last picture above you can see the windows on the near and far side (east and west) and a rooster standing on the roost.
    In the same picture is a piece of wood that slides over an opening if there's a big storm coming and it only goes on the side the wind is coming from, usually the west. If no storm, it stays open.
    At least you have large windows so don't need to make bigger openings.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  7. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Condensation will occur when a cold surface meets warm and humid, so your warm humid coop is not doing you any favors.

    If your coop temperatures equal the ambient outside temps, you will not see any condensation.

    This suggests your coop still does not have enough ventilation to vent out the warm humid air inside.

    Good advice from ChickenCanoe.
     
  8. leithsloft

    leithsloft Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 1, 2014
    Gaylord, MI
    I opened the windows this morning as the winds settled down. By 2:00 pm the outside temp and inside temp were 34 degrees and the condensation dried up. The roof is peaked north and south side which have 6 inch wide by 9 foot long openings covered in hardware cloth on both sides of the coop at the top. (4 1/2 square feet each side). The roof slants on the east/west sides pretty low, about 6 feet. The roost runs on the west side and is about 5 feet high. There is another roost below that, but of course, they want the higher roost. I took the high roost down and they stayed on the floor for days..I gave in and put it back. I guess I can add more openings on the low sides of the coop but was concerned over windy drafts coming in. You would think that the exhaust fan I put in would take care of any extra moisture. It is large enough for a 150 sq. ft. room. My garage windows are also frozen with condensation and it's not heated but attached to the house and insulated very well. It does have attic vents that spin on the roof till the snow gets 3 feet deep.
     
  9. Wyandotte103

    Wyandotte103 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To help with condensation, I recommend that you make to little rectangular holes under the eves on 2 opposite sides of the coop. The wind can blow right through. I'll try to find a picture for you.
     
  10. Wyandotte103

    Wyandotte103 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My henhouse
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    These are some methods of ventilation that I think might work. I don't know. Good luck!
     

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