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How to survive in an uninsulated pole barn this winter?

by LVWorkshop
posted 09-20-2020 06:13 AM


34 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6571 posts in 3409 days


#1 posted 09-20-2020 10:48 AM

Sometimes what we want to do just isn’t possible…and it seems like that’s your case. But I would consider one of those patio heaters kinda look like a torch aire lamp fastened to a 20# propane tank. Some extra tanks as well. There are LP fired salamanders, but I think the infra red type of heater make work a little better. I would (personally) avoid the kerosene fired salamanders because of the odor; but the fuel is a hell of a lot cheaper.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

1091 posts in 2135 days


#2 posted 09-20-2020 12:04 PM

as fred said, this isnt possible without insulating. you might be able to find deals on insulation at building material salvage yards.
or have a few hundred thousand btu furnace

View clagwell's profile

clagwell

323 posts in 708 days


#3 posted 09-20-2020 01:33 PM

One approach is to enclose the area with heavy (8 or 10 mil) plastic sheeting, paying particular attention to the ceiling. You’ll need to add some kind of supports to drop it well below 15’ and, if not already partitioned, to support the sidewalls. You see this a lot on construction sites. It can make a big difference.

Allowance for condensation drainage from both the metal barn roof as well as inside the bubble may need to be addressed, especially if you use a flame for heating. Ventilation also needs to be considered.

-- Dave, Tippecanoe County, IN --- Is there a corollary to Beranek.s Law that applies to dust collection?

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

413 posts in 4662 days


#4 posted 09-20-2020 02:15 PM

With ceilings that high it’s going to be very difficult. At night it’s going to get cold and when you heat it up in the morning it’s likely condensation will form if you use propane. Condensation = rust on tools.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Woodmaster1's profile (online now)

Woodmaster1

1563 posts in 3503 days


#5 posted 09-20-2020 02:47 PM

Since it’s not your barn a pellet stove or corn stove is probably not feasible. That would heat the barn well my friend did that to his pole barn. He farms so corn was no problem for him.

View rustfever's profile

rustfever

797 posts in 4226 days


#6 posted 09-20-2020 03:01 PM

Large heat source [wood stove?] and air circulating fan[s]

-- Rustfever, Central California

View 987Ron's profile

987Ron

127 posts in 232 days


#7 posted 09-20-2020 03:19 PM

Find another place to temporarily move to. Maybe a warehouse with extra room or a vacant store front.
Good luck on a solution.

-- It's not a mistake it's a design opportunity

View HarveyM's profile

HarveyM

125 posts in 2938 days


#8 posted 09-20-2020 03:22 PM

I’m just spitballing here, but I got interested in straw bale houses before buying our current home. They have a R-18 value. For the size of the barn, if you insulate 10 feet high (then put in a temporary ceiling) would cost $1,350 given $5 bales.

Here’s a pict of one such setup

from https://inhabitat.com/hedge-an-amazing-san-francisco-art-space-made-of-straw-bales/

-- Just a Duffer

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2139 posts in 3709 days


#9 posted 09-20-2020 03:37 PM

Find another place would be 1st choice. Heating that open space would be expensive any way you do it. Maybe a 10’ high 2×4 wall sheeted with styrofoam. The bales would tip easily if unsecured and bumped. Good luck with your search.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

6837 posts in 2636 days


#10 posted 09-20-2020 03:48 PM

How drafty is it? I would get a forced air kerosene heater 250-300K BTU and point it toward where you’re working. You’ll only need it when you’re out there and can heat a small area up very quickly. By small area, I mean a corner where you might be laying out or a tablesaw where you’re milling pieces for a project. They do present a combustion concern but don’t need to be run (and shouldn’t be run) unsupervised. Buy a used one and sell it for what you bought it for when you’re done.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View rustfever's profile

rustfever

797 posts in 4226 days


#11 posted 09-20-2020 04:18 PM

BTW, to store glues, finishes and the like….An old refrigerator with a 110 35 watt light bulb burning 24/7 will keep the interior and contents nice and toasty warm. [Incandescent light bulb, not the new ultra-low energy type]

-- Rustfever, Central California

View HarveyM's profile

HarveyM

125 posts in 2938 days


#12 posted 09-20-2020 04:34 PM

I’ll gently disagree that straw bale walls will tip easily. Straw bale mazes are pretty common attractions come fall, but you don’t read of falling walls. There’s simple ways to keep them secure like staking them with dowels.

-- Just a Duffer

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

6212 posts in 3225 days


#13 posted 09-20-2020 04:43 PM

For only 6-8 months, Get the right clothes and a good supply of Mukluk.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6648 posts in 1490 days


#14 posted 09-20-2020 04:55 PM



How drafty is it? I would get a forced air kerosene heater 250-300K BTU and point it toward where you re working. You ll only need it when you re out there and can heat a small area up very quickly.

- bigblockyeti

300 K can heat a 32×48 barn with wind rolling through it to 55 to 60 in not much time. BTDT, got the T shirt. Thing about it getting COLD when you aren’t there, even at 70 or so, that cast iron stays cold as ice for what seems like 2 weeks of constant 70, to get where your fingers don’t become stiff when you lean on the TS table.

Other thing is don’t point the flamethrower at you directly. That “perfect mix” of air, fuel, and a fire (heat source) can happen. I also had the T shirt…... Believe me it’s a crap yer pants kinda moment when that BIG* flash goes off. But darned if I wasn’t already warm, or the sudden warmth may have made me loose consciousness. Thing is if the fuel source is just the dust in the air, it burns out as quick as it starts.

-- Think safe, be safe

View LVWorkshop's profile

LVWorkshop

9 posts in 89 days


#15 posted 09-20-2020 05:10 PM

A lot of good suggesting here. I thought it would probably be helpful to put a few images of the actual space in here. One half of the workshop does have somewhat of a roof overhead in the form of an overhead storage area. The area above the bandsaw does not have any cover. That area is about 10’x10’. Would it be crazy to slap a couple sheets of OSB over that area and make a ‘roof’? I know it’s not anywhere near ideal, but if I had that covering the heat might not leak out as badly.


-- https://www.instagram.com/lehighvalleyworkshop/

View JCamp's profile

JCamp

1243 posts in 1466 days


#16 posted 09-20-2020 06:31 PM

Where I use to work we had a couple 40×100 metal buildings with no insulation. We used turbo heaters to heat them. Usually didn’t get them hot but knocked the chill off considerably to where we could go down to a sweatshirt and bibs

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View SMP's profile

SMP

2869 posts in 821 days


#17 posted 09-20-2020 06:36 PM

Doesn’t Carhart sell heated jackets/parkas? Designed for people who work in outdoor shops in cold climates.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2139 posts in 3709 days


#18 posted 09-20-2020 07:03 PM

I have never seen a straw maze with 10’ walls. Sure, driving rebar through will stop tipping, but that adds a lot to the $ of the straw. Milwaukee also makes heated jackets. I don’t know how long the batteries last. There are also heated insoles with rechargeable batteries. I worked outside for most of 40 years. Good insulated boots and a covered head are the most important part of staying warm. Maybe some thin gloves with the heat backs tucked in the backs.

View PCDub's profile

PCDub

226 posts in 1160 days


#19 posted 09-20-2020 07:16 PM


... Would it be crazy to slap a couple sheets of OSB over that area and make a roof ? I know it s not anywhere near ideal, but if I had that covering the heat might not leak out as badly.
- LVWorkshop

Anything you can do to enclose any part of the space to make the heatable area smaller would be good, so I’d say yes, OSB over the top will help!

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

6837 posts in 2636 days


#20 posted 09-21-2020 12:37 AM

OSB might have been viable when it was $7.95 for a 4’x8’x7/16” sheet, now at over $24 after tax, I’d lean more toward fiberglass insulation.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

413 posts in 4662 days


#21 posted 09-21-2020 12:57 AM

I would take into consideration the situation we are all in currently. Building materials have more than doubled in price, in some cases they have increased 3x – 4x, this is going to add considerable cost. Think about safety. An old dry wood structure or straw bales are fuel for a fire. How about theft, is the place secure? A lot of businesses have closed, there is a lot of vacant property, I would try to find another location. Any shared space in your area? Do you live outside a city? How about a 8’ x 40’ shipping container? You could easily insulate it with 1.5” foam. You could likely rent one or buy it and sell it when your done. I bought a few of them for my church a few years ago for storage. They are solid!! The price was just over $2,000 ea. delivered. It would have cost us at least $20,000 to build a garage this size. They are movable. We are in the process right now of buying two more for our other locations. We will spend another $1,000 to put up an 8’ fence to screen them. They should be cheap in your area as NJ is the largest port on the east coast for imports coming from Europe.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Eric's profile

Eric

729 posts in 789 days


#22 posted 09-21-2020 01:41 AM

A few sheets of osb would be the ticket, maybe some foam boards would work also, at least a little insulation. Depending on what your power source is, you may consider a infer heater. Most of them operate on 240 volt system. And they do heat up an area quickly.

-- Eric, building the dream

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1815 posts in 1504 days


#23 posted 09-21-2020 01:51 PM

The “torpedo” kero heaters will heat up your space in no time as suggested above. They throw so much heat insulation won’t matter.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2139 posts in 3709 days


#24 posted 09-21-2020 02:09 PM

Kerosene stinks. I have also seen n those heaters throw sparks out with the heated air. Sparks and sawdust and straw are a perfect combination for disaster. In place of 7/16 osb, there are thinner sheets, and even particle board paneling at about 1/8” thick. Or wrap the framed room in plastic sheeting to hold heat and stop the wind while working. The best heaters, but would cost more or be rented, sit outside and blow clean heated air in through a duct. That is the new standard for construction jobs. The best is still find another space to rent.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

26981 posts in 3599 days


#25 posted 09-21-2020 02:40 PM

Tent the work area off with tarps. Keep in mind, that when you heat the underside of that steel roof….it WILL drip water everywhere you don’t want it. Spent almost 10 years in a metal Pole Barn…..1/2 had a concrete floor, half of that had a Game Room…..workshop (timeshared with the Barn’s owner) was the other 1/2 of the concrete floored area….one Kerosun Heater didn’t help a whole lot.

Harbor Freight sells a lot of large, CHEAP tarps…...staple them to the ceiling joists, and the walls. Tape the joints where the tarps overlap.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

6648 posts in 1490 days


#26 posted 09-21-2020 02:52 PM



Tent the work area off with tarps. Keep in mind, that when you heat the underside of that steel roof….it WILL drip water everywhere you don t want it. Spent almost 10 years in a metal Pole Barn…..1/2 had a concrete floor, half of that had a Game Room…..workshop (timeshared with the Barn s owner) was the other 1/2 of the concrete floored area….one Kerosun Heater didn t help a whole lot.

Harbor Freight sells a lot of large, CHEAP tarps…...staple them to the ceiling joists, and the walls. Tape the joints where the tarps overlap.

- bandit571

You certainly can create an environment inside an uninsulated pole barn with just a little heat. Rain is pretty easy to make. :-)

-- Think safe, be safe

View them700project's profile

them700project

272 posts in 1934 days


#27 posted 09-21-2020 03:29 PM

I would say salamander just keep it pointed in the right direction or IR heater can work too and can be had under 1000 in propane.

Also is this hobby or job? I picked up a scroll saw for in the house last year to get me through winter. but theres other woodworking vanes you can head down that dont require much space(can be done at kitchen table) Marquetry, carving, etc

View LVWorkshop's profile

LVWorkshop

9 posts in 89 days


#28 posted 09-21-2020 04:13 PM

Thanks all for the great suggestions. For now I’m going to try and make the space smaller with tarps, OSB, or some kind of foamboard and then get a heater. I don’t think the space is going to get warm but if I have a heater to just hover around when I need to it should be okay. I’m going to keep an eye on my tools like a hawk and either oil them or wax them as much as needed. It’s not going to be anywhere near ideal and will most likely be a bad few months, but I’ll deal.

-- https://www.instagram.com/lehighvalleyworkshop/

View TechTeacher's profile

TechTeacher

52 posts in 3312 days


#29 posted 09-21-2020 04:27 PM

might want to consider picking up a couple old billboard tarps. They are heavy, durable and cheap. Use pole barn screws and skip the osb. maybe a few 2x’s over top to attach to. Get some rubber mat material to stand on, or let the sawdust pile up. I intentionally let sawdust pile up by sawmill in the winter it really helps keep feet from freezing.

View smitdog's profile

smitdog

469 posts in 3021 days


#30 posted 09-21-2020 05:11 PM

Reflective bubble wrap (Amazon link) works fairly well especially with a radiant heat source.

-- Jarrett - Mount Vernon, Ohio

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3560 posts in 4353 days


#31 posted 09-21-2020 05:26 PM

I don’t know what climate you’re in but I’ll assume it’s northern as you need the heat. I’m in Maine in an insulated shop, but being in Maine I know cold. I only turn on the heat when I go out to work. I too, keep any perishables in the house.

The thing is… It’s only 6-8 months. It’s not your place, so why put money and time into it at all. Get a large kerosene or propane heater, or two of them if needed; one of the portable ones, maybe like a Mr. heater, or heating buddy unit. They come in all sizes. Don’t insulate, and just heat it as best you can. Maybe one with a fan that can put heat directly on you. Do the best you can, then take the unit with you when you leave. It will cost you a bit to heat when you go out there without the insulation, but it will be a lot less expensive than if you spring to insulate someone else’s barn for them.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

1387 posts in 517 days


#32 posted 09-21-2020 07:33 PM

I think bandit touched on it but H2O is a byproduct of combustion so any exposed iron may be in harms way if the combustible vapors are not vented outside. I am thinking that you are just going to store stuff there and on nice days maybe oil and wax cast iron tables, planes etc.. Hope for spring and the next shop location.

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

676 posts in 302 days


#33 posted 09-22-2020 01:03 AM



For only 6-8 months, Get the right clothes and a good supply of Mukluk.

- AlaskaGuy


“Muktuk” unless you like eating shoes. :)

-- Darrel

View Bill1974's profile

Bill1974

153 posts in 3901 days


#34 posted 09-22-2020 06:10 PM

How drafty is the barn?

I would look into propane radiant heaters. These will heat you and objects but not heat the air. Much nicer to handle warm tools in the cold than cold tools in warmish air. Make sure there is sufficient make up air so you don’t get a carbon monoxide or dioxide buildup. And also make sure there is something to put out a fire encase something gets out of hand. When in doubt buy a CO detector

If electric is cheap, electric space heaters and put up a tent inside to keep the warmed air from escaping to easily.

If you have to choose insulation or no drafts, go for eliminating drafts first. Insulation doesn’t do much if there is air movement.

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