Ventilation questions- new vents in --nothing's changed...Help?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bantyshanty, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. bantyshanty

    bantyshanty Oval Office Courier

    568
    1
    141
    Oct 6, 2009
    S.W Pennsylvania
    I got an Amish-built board-n-batten coop delivered this past month (October). It's a 6' x 8', with 5 double-hung windows, 1 people door, 1 chicken door.
    I didn't order vents. I figured I could retrofit all the vents just fine. That is, that my husband could.
    The walls are not insulated, but the roof is, with 1/4" Reflectix bubble insulation. Don't know the R-value.

    After the coop arrived, my husband decided to let me do the vents, because it was too time-consuming for him, so I put soffit vents all along 2 sides .
    The best I could do was to drill 3" circles in the front side and install 5 three-inch vents along the front eaves, 10 two-inch vents along the back eaves.
    here are photos of this. They're louvered outward. I don't know the square inch area of total venting here. Not much, I guess. Here are the back ones.
    [​IMG]
    After the chickens had been in the coop a week and the nights started getting cold, I closed all the windows down to 1/2 inch.
    In the mornings, moisture would be built up on the upper window panes, and the hygrometer was reading 85% humidity. That's what it read before I installed the vents.

    I then bought 2 8 x 16 " louvered vents, like register intake vents, and cut holes in the two peaked sides and installed them (with hardware cloth behind).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    These holes in the wall are 4 1/2 x 7 each, and the louvered parts of the brown vents fit over them, on 2 sides. The vents are cut into thirds because of the batten strips.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The louvers point downward on the outside to deflect rain. I assume the heat and humidity can still escape, or should I refit these upward ?

    I measured my results each morning with the hygrometer, and I find it still reads 82% in the morning on rainy days, 75% on sunny days, in the mornings. Also, if I can't clean the poop every day, by the third day I smell some ammonia. I have linoleum over plywood floor, an inch of play sand, 3 inches of pine litter, mixed liberally with DE.

    I have a poop trough instead of a poop board with the same sand, pine, DE mixture. I clean it every 2-3 days.

    I should also mention I have 20 bantam hens in there, nights, and half of the day on the rainy days, in Western PA. Half of them are 20 oz OEGBs & D'Anvers.

    Apart from probably having the max. capacity of chickens, is my ventilation enough, in theory? It is on 4 sides. Windows will all open in summer.
     
  2. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I don't put much stock in "footage" measurements. If it smells like ammonia, it's not enough ventilation.

    It could smell like "animals live here" but it shouldn't reek of ammonia after only 3 days.
    Just my humble opinion. More ventilation is always better, the only thing is try to avoid direct drafts blowing across the roost.
     
  3. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,873
    15
    191
    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
  4. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    3,479
    47
    246
    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Old poop generates ammonia... If you put your nose in the right place you will always be able to smell it. In my opinion you just don't want too strong of an ammonia odor in there.

    Your ventilation looks fine. The colder it gets the more convection you will have and the drier the incoming air will be and the humidity will become less and less.

    Trying to conserve any heat is always going to raise the humidity a little. The reason you found condensation at the top of the cracked window was that the heat was going out the soffit vents and being pulled in through the cracked window. The cold air coming in was cooling the window and causing condensation where the cold and warm air mixed. With the new vents up higher, the warm air should be escaping there with cold air coming from the soffit vents. The air coming in along the length of the soffit vents should give you a better mix.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2010
  5. bantyshanty

    bantyshanty Oval Office Courier

    568
    1
    141
    Oct 6, 2009
    S.W Pennsylvania
    Quote:Ohhh, that explains the condensation, I think. However, I had the windows closed last night, it was cloudy, moist, and right around 33 F. In the morning, more condensation over all the window panes, right after cleaning the whole coop the day before.

    Do I need to add any vents at all down low near floor level?

    My husband says yes, I say no, because of drafts on the floor sleeping breeds (silkies/cochins).

    Am I right, no vents down low?
     
  6. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

    583
    7
    121
    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    You are correct. Vents down low would cause drafts.
    I think you will want a lot more ventilation when the summer heat comes though. Think how hot a shed or garage can get in summer.
    That is when some low vents can come in handy. Better yet, is to open up the whole North side.
    That is why I like lots of vents that I can open and close as needed.


    Pats Ventilation page above is a really good guide to start with.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  7. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    3,479
    47
    246
    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Quote:Ohhh, that explains the condensation, I think. However, I had the windows closed last night, it was cloudy, moist, and right around 33 F. In the morning, more condensation over all the window panes, right after cleaning the whole coop the day before.

    Do I need to add any vents at all down low near floor level?

    My husband says yes, I say no, because of drafts on the floor sleeping breeds (silkies/cochins).

    Am I right, no vents down low?

    You might not be able to avoid condensation on the windows altogether, especially if they are single pane, there is always going to be a huge temperature difference there. You just have to decide whether that condensation is going to be problem, i.e., dripping into the litter and causing wet litter. As I said, as the weather gets colder you are going to see the humidity drop anyway.

    I wouldn't put vents down low if you have birds on the floor at night. The cold air coming in the soffit vents is going to flow down the walls and pool on the floor anyway. Bringing it in up high helps it to mix with the warmer coop air on the way down.
     
  8. wildeflowers

    wildeflowers I suspect fowl play!

    428
    2
    111
    Jun 29, 2010
    I have an outdoor temperature and humidity gauge in our coop and I have one outside underneath our porch as well. I've noticed that it has been quite humid lately here, in the 70s and 80s and that is both in the coop and outside. I think it is staying high because of the weather. You said it was cloudy and rainy. Well, if it is humid outside, then there is no dry air to make the coop drier, kwim? I agree, if it doesn't smell like ammonia, you are probably ok.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  9. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

    41
    4
    24
    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    87
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    First big thing: have you checked that your hygrometer is accurate. Many many of them are not (can be off by as much as 20-30%!). It varies greatly even within a brand. Do a 'search' or check the stickies at the top of the incubating and hatching eggs section of the forum for instructions on how to use salt to test your hygrometer and calculate a correction coefficient. Disclaimer, I still have not been able to find out how well a correction factor determined for room temperature will perform at (say) subfreezing temperatures. But even if it is not quite accurate then, it will be MORE accurate than just assuming your hygrometer must be right.

    It is true that with sufficient temperature differential indoors vs outdoors there *will* be some unavoidable condensation on windowpanes. (Also on uninsulated roof tin, not that you have any -- that's why you insulate roof tin, to *avoid* that condensation). (Well, windowpane condensation is partially avoidable too, by taping bubblewrap onto the windows, bubbles facing towards the glass... but again, with *sufficient* temperature differential, even this won't help.) That is not necessarily a problem.

    HOWEVER, I am kind of doubting you've got that much of a temperature differential yet, and would tend to bet that your condensation problem probably really DOES reflect high humidity. So it may be that when you do the saltwater test with your hygrometer, you may find out that it is basically ballpark correct [​IMG]

    Those vents you've added are better than nothing, but not going to do much. Add up the total square footage -- it is probably less than 2 sq ft total (she says, eyeballing and doing some quick estimates).

    Either you will need to add A WHOLE BIG LOT more ventilation, or get more serious about sanitation, or reduce the number of chickens in there.

    With 20 chickens in 42 underventilated sq ft, I would suggest removing all droppings daily (if you can add a droppings board and scrape it clean in the morning, which takes literally like 10 seconds, by all means do that). This still may not be enough unless you can add ventilation or reduce occupancy, though.

    For the moment, one thing that would help with humidity would be to open the windows as wide as possible all day.

    You are correct, btw, you do NOT want low vents open during the winter.

    Bear in mind that if it has been pretty humid in there, then unless the wood is heavily polyurethaned or painted, the wood itself may have absorbed significant moisture and it may take some while for humidities to really come down. (If your wood *is* heavily coated with something moisture-blocking, then of course, never mind [​IMG])

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by