Winter is here ... Are you prepared? This is the time to do your cleaning and preparing for the weather. Old man winter can come on fast and furious, so preparation is always the key. Do everything you can to protect your investment and your equines by having things in working order.
Make sure to check your rain gutters for leaves, birds’ nests, rocks and other debris that can stop the successful flow of rain water away from your barn and stalls. Power washing them out is a good way to clean things AFTER you have physically removed large sticks, leaves and other items.
If you wash these things out and they get stuck in the downspouts then that doesn’t do you any good. Make sure that the largest items are removed first. Check your gutters when you are washing them out for leaks, holes or if the sections have separated or moved. Silicone is great for repairing and waterproofing joining sections in your gutters and filling in excessive holes.
If you have metal gutters and they are rusted, then you want to replace that section with new. If you are in a HEAVY snow area you may not have gutters, which is normal and if you do have them you may want to remove them now! Snow can and will damage your gutters and when the snow slides it may well tear the gutters from your roof. This is the time to get those things repaired.
Check all the welds around your barn to make sure that nothing has rusted through which can affect the integrity of the structure. If so, then you will want to contact a certified welder to fix any issues. You also want to check all your bolts if your barn is “redheaded” into your foundation. Believe it or not these can come loose.
You may have to remove the cover that hides these bolts, but it is worth it to make sure that they are tightened. If your barn has sections that are screwed together, then you will want to check each and EVERY screw to make sure it is as tight as it can be also.
Checking your roof is another important inspection that needs to be completed at this time of year. You will want to make sure that the sections of your metal roof that overlay each other have not lifted because of wind or tree limbs, vines or other sources. You will want to remove any objects that may be rubbing on your roof. If you have sections that are lifted adding additional screws to secure them down again is advisable.
The obvious thing to avoid is lifted sections that can be torn off in heavy wind. If you have a composition roof or tile make sure that there are not missing tiles which will then leak and damage the wood underneath your roof. You don’t want damage and the entire roof caves in on your stock.
Windows and Doors
If you have windows in your barn, you want to make sure that they are still water proof (if that is what you have). You do not want water getting down between the laminated metal and wood, which will deteriorate your barn walls causing a loss of structural integrity. If you have a wood barn, the last thing you want is the wood being moist on the interior and causing mold or rot issues.
If you have sliding doors on tracks make sure that the tracks are working properly, check the end of the tracks to be sure that your stopper is in place and if it is a bolt/washer stopper that it is tightened and hasn’t come loose from all the wear & tear of opening & closing the door.
All hinged doors you should also spray some WD40 in the hinges just to keep them clean and free of rust and debris. Same also goes if you have shutters for your windows. Make sure they slide easily and that when in the open or closed position that they are securely fastened and won’t be blown from the tracks they are assembled with.
Bedding in the Barn
Remove the bedding from all your stalls and check each base channel in the stalls to confirm that they have not rusted through because of urine or fecal matter build-up. If you find rust areas, but there are not holes this is a good time to buy “rust-proof” paint and apply it immediately. This can help to prevent further erosion of the metal.
You may want to think about contacting the original barn company for replacement parts if they are damaged severely because if your horse(s) rub on the wall with damaged base channels then the entire wall will move and possibly break thus loosing the entire weight-bearing load on that wall which then stresses the other walls and roof.
Whether you have a modular or pole barn, the more you keep dirt and bedding away from the exterior walls and below the metal at the foundation the stronger your barn will be and the longer it will last for you.
Let’s all get our winter jackets from the closet and prepare to batten down the hatches for winter. This will get you one more step towards that preparation. Keeping you and your horses safe is always the way to have a good winter season.
Do not forget to check ALL your water lines. Look for leaks, cracks, loose fittings etc. Also insulate all exposed pipe with either rubber insulation or insulation tape. If you have automatic waters in your barn you will want to make sure that these are especially insulated. You surely do not want to come out one morning and find your horse standing in 6-10 inches of freezing water.
Have a safe and successful winter season with your riding and everything you do!