Sand in run not drying completely, help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by frog522, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. frog522

    frog522 Out Of The Brooder

    96
    0
    39
    Jun 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I have an issue where some sections of my run (near the edges) somehow collect moisture and don't seem to completely dry. These areas are not soggy-wet but they're not dry either.

    My run is about 6x4 feet area and 3feet tall. The run is only for two chickens. I originally did not build a roof for the run, although it is covered by hardware cloth. I finished my coop and run during the summer. There is no natural shading of my coop and run, so I used scrap plywood to put on top to keep them shaded during the summer. Upon the first rain in the fall, the plywood stunk when it got wet, so I ended up covering the top of the run with 6mil plastic. It drapes over the top of the run like a dinner-table cloth. Ventilation/condensation isn't a problem since there is the bottom 2/3 of the run is open to the air all around the run.

    The bottom of my run is on concrete.

    My run appears to be soaking up water from underneath the retaining boards of my sandbox. I plan to elevate my entire run by adding square cement blocks to cover the entire run floor (I will need to temporarily remove the sand to do this). I hope this will keep the sand from soaking up rain water from the surrounding concrete. Do you think this will help in reducing the water soak-up of the sand from water on the ground?

    As for the top "moist" spots, I get the feeling they are not drying because top of the run is completely covered by plywood and is blocking all sunlight from above. I get the feeling I will have to modify my run to add an actual roof structure. My 6mil plastic sheet was an attempt at a cheap solution to last long term. It does do a great job of blocking rain and preventing water from getting on the sand during storms but since the bottom of the sides is not covered, some water does get in around the edges. This is the sand that doesn't seem to be drying. It is not a drainage issue. The sand is getting wet and given the cold, wet months we've started to have over here, it takes forever for the moist sand to completely dry. I don't imagine the girls are very happy about it. [​IMG]

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I am thinking of using the hard plastic roofing from the home improvement store and make one half opaque to provide shade and one half clear to allow warmth in that area on a cold day. Right now with the run roof completely blocking all sunlight, the sand is normally pretty cold even during the day.

    All suggestions are welcome!

    ...and yes, I have already read patandchickens muddy run page. [​IMG]
     
  2. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    839
    0
    139
    May 28, 2008
    Upstate NY
    I wouldn't consider moist sand a problem. My chickens are out in all kinds of weather (and here in Upstate NY, that often means mud!) Does it seem like your chickens don't want to go out in the wet sand? What about giving them some options for getting off the ground all together? I have some tree branches, that my girls will roost on during the day.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree -- unless your main concern is rotting out of grade boards, or unless something noticeably unsavory is happening with the damp sand (which is unlikely but I suppose not impossible), personally I would not worry about it. Given that this is the *run*, not an indoor space.

    Even if you put on a clear roof the sand will be (feel) pretty cold in the winter months; it both holds and transmits cold a lot more efficiently than something organic like wood chips or straw. In your location that is not necessarily a problem (it might be in a colder area); but if you feel it is really chronically bothering the chickens then the only real solution I could see is to replace the sand with something else. (In which case you might indeed need to tackle the wet-area problem... or maybe not, would probably want to see what happened)

    If you did want to tackle the wet areas, it is hard for me to say anything real intelligent without pics, but it sounds like you think moisture is wicking up thru the grade boards themselves or thru the concrete, in which case you would need to either bare and seal the concrete real good, or replace the grade boards with something non-moisture-wicking, or put a moisture barrier or air-break between the grade boards and the ground. (Depending which the problem was). None of this is a quick cheap easy fix, so I'm not sure it's worth addressing unless there is a real big practical problem with it.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,217
    345
    236
    Nov 10, 2010
    Could the wet be water dripping off the plastic that is draped over the run? Plastic will catch all the water from the area it covers and drop it all at the fencing if it is just draped over the run.
    If you think this might be the case - then a roof with the end extended beyond the fence of your run would move the dripping water farther away from your run and possibly help keep the sand dry.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I wish I'd thought of that. It is a very, very plausible explanation. Ignore the part of my post about causes and fixes; the "chickens probably won't mind" part still stands [​IMG]

    Pat
     
  6. frog522

    frog522 Out Of The Brooder

    96
    0
    39
    Jun 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Looking at the water run-off from the plastic sheet, I wouldn't expect the sand to get in certain places. There are some places water does get into and am fine with the little amount of water there. When I set up the 6mil sheet, I placed bricks in certain places to keep the sheet from being blown off, and also used duct tape to keep the flaps down. there aren't any areas that can drip directly into the run.

    The strange thing is that there are areas closer to the middle of the run that are damp. Chickens have scratched in certain areas (creating wide but not very deep craters) that reveal damp sand. I am using all-purpose sand that is more coarse than playsand. I get the feeling that maybe the bottom 3 inches of sand soaked up water from the rain (from underneath the sandbox walls) and is taking a very long time to dry (or maybe won't ever dry). Is this how sand in runs is supposed to be? Is the bottom 1/3 or 1/2 always supposed to be damp? The sand is really nice when you first put it in because it's really dry like kitty litter. Now it just seems the top 1/5 of the sand is dry and the 4/5 below is somewhat damp and solid.

    I hope to fix this issue because it's starting to bother me that these damp areas are more difficult to clean. Sometimes I don't know whether I'm scooping up mashed up chicken poop or scraping up clumps of wet sand.

    I'll try and get a picture up tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by