November 13, 2014

Roam for a Dome?

The purpose of this article is to consider how to repair or replace your yurt dome.

As a sales rep for Hawaiian yurts, I get lots of queries for dome replacements. That reminds me of a builder who said that skylights and domes eventually have problems and to not purchase them if you can't deal with repairing leaks.

My 24-foot yurt kit from Colorado was erected 2009 and never seemed to fit properly onto the compression ring. I didn't think it was a problem until it leaked. Several people tried various solutions from weather stripping to styrofoam, but there was always a gap between the dome and ring. Because only the rare south wind caused some rain to land on my floor, I was able to just cope with the misfit.

In this low-altitude tropical setting, I typically opened the dome during the day and closed it at night. As most yurt kits from the mainland, a dome opener is required. Unaware my latch and screw was off track, a fine crack formed in the acrylic dome. Opening and closing daily made the crack worse, but it took me months to realize it.

Well, the crack expanded a lot during 2014 Hurricane Iselle and my little occasional leak turned into a waterfall. From part time carpenters to commercial builders, help was sought. Yet each strategy proposed was stuck short on how not to step on the fabric roof between the rafters, which would cause serious damage.

There were so many complications (scaffolding included) I'll not detail here. I came to the point of wanting to remove the dome and build a cupola to replace it. But I couldn't afford options and was still stuck on how to prevent labor damage to the roof.

Creative woodworker Peter Frost of Puna came up with a solution pictured here that I'm very happy with. He repaired the crack and inserted a wind turbine from Home Depot. Peter jokingly calls it "the nipple" and suggested a glowing hula hoop around the exterior of the dome.

Nathan Toler of Backyard Yurts was super helpful with repair instructions, yet he didn't have the dome mold to fit my 24-foot design at the time. Shipping a new dome from Colorado was not an affordable option I wanted to pursue. Afterall, it may fit as poorly as the original.

I hope my story helps those that need to fix their dome. Fortunately, Nathan does have 4 or 5-foot dome molds to fit on the compression ring. He hand-blows the acrylic in Hawaii and the result is stronger and thicker than what competitors offer.

Each fourth-inch flat acrylic sheet is heated in a large commercial plastics oven until pliable, then placed in his round blowing forming table. Compressed air is pushed into the center of the dome form until the correct height is achieved. Then the dome is set in place to cool and harden. The domes are made perfectly clear, or choose from an array of tints for an extra fee.

Because Nathan design-customizes yurt orders, there is no need for the awkward dome opener. The windows and air flow are tailor-made for your particular climate and location. A fan can be added under the dome, if desired.

So whether you are fixing a dome, or ordering a new yurt, know that there is a competitive offering in Hawaii that cannot be matched from the mainland!

Yurt Living: Dome, Cupola or Spire?