One of the things we love about geodesic domes is that a dome can be an all-season home. Once you build it and make it secure, your dome will be an energy-efficient retreat where you can get cozy all winter long. Even snow and wind are no problem for the structurally sound dome. Of course, like any other home, you need to put some effort into preparing your dome for cold weather. While some home-winterizing tips are the same for any structure, there are some weather-proofing steps that are unique to domes. But, hey, we’ve got you! Here is our handy checklist for getting ready for the chilly season ahead.
SHORE UP YOUR GEODESIC STRUCTURE
For many people, winter means snow. Fortunately, snow isn’t usually a problem for geodesic domes, whose unique shape and structural strength are great at holding up under the weight of snow.
If your area gets really heavy snowfalls, though, you may consider supporting the structure by installing a 4×4 post in the middle of the floor and under the point where the five bars cross at the top of the frame. Make sure the post presses against this point to support the bars and frame.
PREPARE FOR HEATING
Next, you’ll need to think about warmth. In a dome, you might have a wood-burning heater with a chimney that vents to the outside. A dome’s shape helps make it energy-efficient, so you’re good there. However, it’s a good idea to check your chimney for blockages. Over the summer, bees or birds could have built a nest, which would be an issue the first time you try to fire up your heater. Also check the chimney for creosote buildup.
If you plan to use a source of heat in your dome, you must have a CO detector. Carbon monoxide poisoning is not something anyone wants to experience. Check the batteries of your CO detector and make sure it’s functioning properly. Keeping your guests and family safe is a top priority.
Consider installing a ceiling fan in your dome. Warm air rises, and it can take a long time to heat up the space where you are, closer to the bottom. A ceiling fan will mix the hot and cold air and circulate a more uniform temperature in your dome tent.
PREVENT HEAT FROM ESCAPING THROUGH WINDOWS AND DOORS OF THE DOME TENT
After providing heat for your dome, you need to make sure it stays inside. One of the key winterizing tips is making sure your heat doesn’t escape. It’s common practice for everyone in cold climates to secure their doors and windows, where heat tends to leak. This is good for both your comfort and your budget!
In case your dome has an insulation layer with cut-outs for windows and vents, you can block off the cut-outs with fabric. Use a thick fabric like fleece or wool felt. You may be able to tuck the fabric behind the edges of the insulation layer or use cotter pins to secure the fabric to the insulation. The fewer exposed/uninsulated spots you have, the better your dome keeps the heat. Also, you may consider blocking off the skylight cut-out on the insulation in the same manner.
If you don’t already have curtains, buy and install them for your panoramic window. Curtains create an air layer between your indoor temperature and the cold window.
Wind can get under your dome cover and blow cold air underneath. So, secure the cover flaps around the bottom of your dome by stapling or nailing the flaps to your deck. Use wood battens to make sure you get a tight seal, and that the nails will not rip easily through the cover material. If you prefer, you can use sandbags or other heavy objects to keep the flaps down.
Check your door weather strips and door sweep, and replace if necessary. Keeping the door airtight is a good way to keep warm in the winter.
If you have a solar fan installed in the roof, switch it off and stuff fabric material in the opening and around the fan blades. Even though it’s not a door or window, it could become a way for your dome to lose heat. You want to make sure your heated air doesn’t escape through the opening.
INSULATE YOUR GEODOME DECK
Another area to look at for air leaks around your dome is your deck. If your dome is installed in a deck — and if you haven’t done it already — you can insulate the deck for better temperature regulation.
If the deck is high and you have a crawl space underneath, consider screwing some styrofoam insulation sheets to the bottom of the deck. If your deck is low, you can just use some spray foam to fill the gaps and cracks between the boards. This extra layer of protection will not only separate you from the cold ground, but it will help keep the insects out in the summer, too.
PREPARE YOUR DOME COVER
Now let’s turn to another line of defense against the cold: your dome cover. Give your dome cover a good cleaning before it starts snowing. Brush off any fallen leaves and dust from the dome cover. Excessive dust, dirt, and rotten leaves can stain the cover and are just a nuisance to clean up in the spring. No one wants that!
After cleaning your dome cover, make sure it is tight and not sagging at any spots — that’s where meltwater will collect and freeze. During winter, try to minimize any manipulations of your cover in below-freezing temperatures. Plastic gets hard, and at some really low temperatures, may even crack. So, make it tight before freezing, and try to leave it alone until spring.
Consider using Thermoshield paint on the interior of the cover. As the paint reflects visible and invisible waves back, the heat (which is a kind of wave — infrared) will be reflected back into the dome interior, keeping the warmth inside.
Want a handy checklist to help you with these tasks? Download our free printable file so you can keep track of your progress in getting your dome ready for winter. You can download our checklist HERE.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT WINTERIZING YOUR DOME TENT?
No matter if you use your dome as a tiny home or as a glamping retreat, you can comfortably enjoy your special space all winter. Spend a little time before winter comes to prep your dome for cold weather, and you will be set. If you have additional questions about getting ready for winter — or about geodesic domes in general — please contact us.