Need somenhelp with ventilation issues

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mithious, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yesturday I made a DIY water heater. Works great. Maybe too well?

    The issue I noticed is that the coop iced up, walls, door windows....

    Now I had the windows open, the top vents open...the thing is, we are running between 75% and 100% humidity....with subzero temps.

    I have tried opening up top vents only, windows only, both vents and window...the vents are cross vents, near the rooftop, and two windows, one facing east, one north. There wasn't any wind, for here anyway....still, once I shut up the coop for the night, because the way the guys installed one of the top vents...it blows right on them, on the roost...between the humidity, them, and the water heater, all the condensation froze the entire inside of the coop and Mr Roo got the tips of his comb and his wattles frostbitten.

    I have 3 roosts and of course, they pick the very top roost. I CAN remove that top roost, which would put them UNDER the air flow of the vents...I have the roosts set into floor joists for easy removal for cleaning...I am not using any liquid cleaning, just scraping the poop board and roosts, best I can with a putty knife...scrape poop board daily, if not more often....so quite a bit of poo, is manually removed from the coop. Replacing bedding, is not an option $$$ wise...they do a good job of turning it and I add, as needed, shavings and straw...the straw, in our climate, is a must for warmth. We have had -38 F real temps with some -18 F also...windchills have been awful also.

    What would you all suggest? I'm not very educated on how air flow works...one vent is under the eves, at about 6 1/2 foot high, north side. South side, is ON the eves, but is straight out ( close to 6 foot high ), instead of being under the boxed in rafters...the guys didn't make the back of the coop eves long/big enough, to have the vent go under it, like the north side...

    I hope this long description helps with understanding my setup. The pullets have small combs and wattles, and so far, no frostbite...they are hatchery BR's, spring hatch and getting 5 eggs a day. There are 14 pullets and 1 cockerel, in a 8 by 8 coop, with a 7 foot front ( north ) and 6 foot back ( south ) . South and west have no windows. South faces woods, so would not give any sun...east gives some sun...when we get it...west wall is still tar papered, so will absorb heat if there is sun...the walls are doubled, no insulation, and floor is doubled. Outside is shingled, but for that west wall. We ran into winter and could not finish that last wall...

    Any help/ideas/air flow info will be much appreciated!!! Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Being that your temps are so cold, I can see why you need to add some heat. However you might try not adding heat and see if they do infact get frostbite without any additional heat. Chickens can take quite a bit of cold as long as they are out of the wind and dry.

    Adding heat in bitter cold temps will produce moisture. They say you need at alteast 1 square foot of ventilation per chicken. So I would suggest opening all your eaves in the roof, on all sides. You don't want air directly on the birds, but you do want air well above their heads. So by opening all the eaves in at the ceiling, air will move in one side and out the other. The moisture from the breathing and pooping will rise, be picked up by the slight air movement and whisked out the other side. And if you do add heat, this moisture should leave out the roof eaves as well.

    If it is going to be a really cold windy night, you could block off some of the eaves on the side the wind is coming from to slow the air movement down so less heat is lost.

    So all this being said, you want a ton of air in your coop. No matter the temp. But you want it well above their heads.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  3. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, I appreciate the suggestions!

    just to reiterate...I made a DIY WATER heater...am not trying to heat the coop, we lose power here way too much and the temp drop would kill them...the water heater is turned OFF at night and fount is brought in the house so they don't play kick ball with it. I am out there, before dawn, with fresh water and THEN, turn on the 40 watt bulb in the DIY water heater.

    As stated in the first post...I have tried leaving all windows and vents open...still getting the frozen condensation...thus Mr Roo's frostbite...

    I am not sure how airflow works...so don't understand how my top vents work....does the higher one take the air out? or the lower one?

    With 100% humidity...even with everything open...the outside air is FULL to saturation, of humidity...WATER....so even with all ventilation open...I am just adding more moisture from the outside 100% humidity...even in the freezing cold sub zero temps, we are having very high humidity.

    I live almost at the summit of a mountain...so the wind can and does come from all directions....one hour, south, next hour west, next east...and on and on...so no steady wind from a single direction to be able to predict wind direction....

    All I am trying to do with the DIY water heater is to keep the water from freezing....not heat the coop...but there is way more frozen condensation, on the inside of the coop, since I installed the water heater...right now, I have all windows and vents open...and more frozen condensation on the inside than yesterday....with everything open...it is close to a full wall of ventilation...still not doing the trick though....I do believe that the water heater is adding more condensation...yet filling their water every hour, due to freezing...was getting hard, and old, fast!

    I'm at a loss and would greatly appreciate advice on how you all keep out the condensation in your cold winter coops! ( if that is even possible in such high humidity? ) Thanks again!!!

    I am in the US but close to Canada...so get the frigid Canada clippers here with the moisture coming off the great lakes...
     
  4. 3chickchicks

    3chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you post pictures of your coop and your water heater?

    How warm is the water with the heater working? Can you adjust the heater at all?

    You could try making the water more closed off. Use a lid and maybe some water nipples.
     
  5. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Sorry, I got a bit confused as to you building a water heater, not coop heater. :) Do you have a slanted roof on your coop? If you have the vents open on both the lower side and the higher side, the air should enter the lower side and exit out the higher side. And unless your coop is really insulated well, no doubt it is the same humidity or close as the outside humidity as well.

    Pics would help as stated above. :)

    Oh, and I would lower the roost bar. Up high is where all that moisture is at and they will always be suseptible to frost bite being up so high. I know that keeping water unfrozen in those temps is difficult. And of course power outages probably happen frequently. You might check into the Alaska thread here and read what they are doing about keeping water from freezing. I know that it is a "hot" topic in that thread. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  6. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

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    How much actual sq.ft. of ventilation/openings do you have? But from the sound of it, even if you have enough ventilation, with that high humidity going on, with those very cold temps, it could be hard to control. Talk about a 'FoggyFreeze', you have it.
     
  7. Bogtown Chick

    Bogtown Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like you've got good ventilation. But pictures will give us a better Idea...I agree. One thing you might try is offering the water 2 times a day. In those temps the birds are roosting alot anyways. Take it down to them in the morning let them all drink. Pull it out then take it down in the evening again as they get their last feeding before roosting. Especially those bitterly cold days. It sounds like a pain to do ...but maybe it will make a difference. What is the outdoor humidity? Do you know. You might be fighting something that you have no control of. I'm not sure how your maritime humidity is in the winter.

    I agree...lowering the roost so they stay below the rising warm moist air.

    I tried hay/straw for a few weeks this early winter and I have to say...I did't like it that much...so I raked it out. I had heard it was warmer than Pine shavings. That being said I saw a lot of moist poo clinging to the strands of hay and straw and subsequently to my birds' feet. This is picking bones, I know, but I think just thickening up the Pine shavings...throwing some BOSS in there once in a while so they'll scratch and fluff it up every once in a while does the trick for us. Plus Pine shavings seem to make that excess moisture disappear.

    Best of luck.
     
  8. DuluthHomestead

    DuluthHomestead Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't know if it would help, but you could probably lower the wattage on the light bulb in the water heater. We're using a 25 watt bulb in a cookie tin to heat a one gallon waterer. During the really cold weather (-20 F) the reservoir would freeze but the tray that they drink out of would stay accessible (if slightly frosted over). We switch out the water every morning. 40 watts might be heating your water too much and putting more moisture into the air.
     
  9. Bogtown Chick

    Bogtown Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    Duluth Homestead: I was thinking the same thing....if there's a higher watt bulb in that tin heater it's increasing the evaporation and putting more moisture in the air. Good call.
     
  10. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps


    Only have a cell phone for pics...they aren't very good pics....my birds are not roosting, even in the -38 F...the outdoor humidity is 100%, it's stays between 75% and 110% humidity here...even in the lowest temps...I am starting to think, it is more the humidity, than the water heater...I think the water heater is adding to it, but not my main problem....the only thing I can think of, short of a dehumidifier, and that aint happening...is maybe some rice filled socks, hung up to absord some moisture and keeping the coop closed up to keep OUT the humid air, but for the one north vent to help suck out the moisture also???? Does that sound like it might work???

    I layer, shavings and straw...give them scratch in the afternoon and they keep the bedding very well turned...but even the pine shavings are getting just a tad moist since I added the DIY water heater...sigh....I really don't have a problem with ammonia smell OR wet droppings on top of the bedding....I have a poop board that I clean off in the am, err, scrape off with a putty knife, and then sometimes, a few more times, before they go to roost...I only have one pullet that will stay on the roost during the day when it's frigid cold????? Everyone else is digging around, dust bathing in the holes they dig in the bedding, or laying in the nest boxes, eating drinking, when it's not frozen...reason for the DIY water heater...the cold doesn't bother them, no matter how cold it is, it is the moisture I am fighting...If I were rich...I would put in a dehumidifier...but I am not. I also am not young...and am broken...so trying to keep my winter trips to the coop, down from every hour....to 3-4 times a day...if all else fails...I will limit their water and see what happens...thanks for the suggestions!!!!

    I am going to go out and check on them, maybe close up the windows, and see if the vents will suck the moist air out for now....I keep trying different things,....my north vent is higher, so going to try leaving that open....Is the higher vent the one that I should use, or the lower one? My roof is 7 feet on north side and 6 feet on south side, vents on both....not sure which one sucks out air, and which one pulls in air????

    Thanks again!!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013

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