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Shop doors + prolonged freezing temps = not good


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The ground has heaved almost two inches here due to the prolonged freezing temps. Which has effectively locked the shop doors.
Had to use a post bar to chop the ground away from the man-door and can open it just enough to get inside.
The big door is stuck and that isn't moving till the thaw happens.
Am going to redo the entrances to the shop this summer so this doesn't happen next winter.

But then it would be nice to have a 30 x 40 pole barn and not have these problems.

2014 T-giving Smithy Etsy Crop.jpg

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Besides being a PITA it is pretty, good enough for a Mid-Winter festival card.

We are lucky here and get a couple of inches on a BAD year, instead we have to deal with damp and rot. Untreated wood goes green with algae then rots.

A consideration for your problem could be sacrificial strips at the base of the doors, these are designed to break off to allow access. In Spring just reattach them/new ones.


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I agree with greywolf, that picture is ideal for a winter card. Makes me think of a place I wish I could be. :)

Is you shop on the ground or do you have it elevated a little? You might try something I've seen before. I've seen a few different barns and shops that have a board under the door firmly attached to the shop. It forces you to pick your feet up a little on the way in and out but might help keep from freezing shut.

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I plan to use that image along with some others on a set of note cards I print in-house. Am also doing a set with our honeybees.
This is my studio site: www.Studio518.net

The man door within a door won't work unfortunately.
The shop is on the ground with supports sunk below the frost line. It has a brick floor that has plastic sheets under it.
Maybe a taller floating threshold will work rather than a fixed piece that might damage something when the ground heaves.
Both of the doors have straps hinges with pintles so they raise up as the ground heaves.

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Back hoe out in front of the doors and install gravel and drain tile this should significantly reduce frost heave. If your stubborn and use a shovel or have access to a hoe it's not particularly expensive. If you have to hire it out labore and excavator charges are high. Must say that is a beutiful building.

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Charles has it right. the ground is heaving because it's "frost susceptible" meaning it's holding water rather than letting it flow through. It'd be a big project but jacking the entire shop up and sub excavating and replacing with gravel will cure it. It's how we build roads here and some still heave.

Another option is to have steel piles driven and set your shop on steel girders between them.

Yeah, I know too expensive and was labor intensive to fix that shop. It'd be a lot less trouble and money to build another shop on a proper foundation. IF you get seasonal temperatures that make it worth the effort. The other down side is maybe losing that winter pic, it is postcard beautiful.

The sacrificial strips under the door sounds like a workable idea. Perhaps make the doors so you can take them apart without damaging them. Yeah, hard to lock. hmmmmmm.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I have rolling doors- 6' double on the front, 8' single in the rear. Front is fine- full sun, gravel  to the slab, grade away from the building - no problem. Rear is soil below the door. I thought I graded it enough, but it heaved and got runoff that froze the door into place till the thaw. I use that door to access my flue cap, and have to traverse the tundra to open and close the flue.  I plan on taking Charles' suggestion and doing the gravel drain thing. Was going to do it this past fall but never got aroundtuit. It is on my list for the thaw. Yeah, really. 


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I do have a dream of a 30 x 40 pole building one of these days out in back of the existing structure. It won't have the rustic look but it will at least be weather tight and won't have to worry about tools always rusting. It will turn into a garden shed or something and we won't tear it down.

A little background on the building.
I live next door to where I grew up in a stone home that belonged to a worker and his family from the old Robesonia Iron Furnace.
My mom also grew up in that home and as a little girl she had a horse. My grandfather built her a stable from wood that came from a boxcar.
That stable is now my smithy and the original walls are still there. The lean-to was added in the 70's by my dad.

Across the front of the building is a horizontal line between the lower and upper windows. That is the old roof line.
I added the high pitched roof and enclosed everything in rough cut boards from a local saw mill.
The corrugated tin roofing came from a building that was torn down on the property of Carpenter Technology Corporation which is a few miles east of me near Reading.

When my dad and I built the stone forge, I used some original stones from the old Roby Furnace.
The base for it is a giant piece of sandstone that was at least 24" thick by approx 4' in diameter. We stood the stone up on end with my dad's backhoe.
Using the straight peen on a stone hammer, I hammered a line approx down the center of the end. After about a half hour you could hear that big rock start to sound different and it split apart almost perfectly in half.
We buried that down in the dirt and it works.
It has a 100 amp service out to it.


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That's a great story. It must be nice to live somewhere with that much personal and family history. Where I live is almost 18 years old from forest to home, Deb and I are our own story here.

Thanks for sharing.

You might get away with digging a gutter a foot deep an wide or so deep under the doorway. If you fill with clean gravel wrap it with filter cloth so clays and silts won't clog the voids, they will faster than you'd think. You can probably do well with a drain tile in a filter sock and fill over it with clean gravel. The top 4" or so needs to compact so D1 or similar is called for. Run this "French Drain" to a dry well. Basically keep digging the little trench once you're away from the building. If you know which way you want water to flow maintain about 1/8"-1' grade and take it to the dry well. That's basically a nice deep pit similar to the old crib style septic pit or seepage ring. You want the dry well a couple few feet below frost line. Line the bottom with geotextile, it does the same thing filter cloth does but it's a LOT tougher and this will take a lot more weight on it. Now's the time for some "bone rock" Large clean cobbles, say from 6" to 10" a foot or two deep max is plenty, lay some geotextile over it and lay clean oversize rock, say 1"-3" for a few feet, stop about where the French drain enters and cover by folding the geotextile that lines the sides of the hole then fill to just above ground level (OG) with clean gravel, another layer of geotextile, sod and plant. Sod is important as it's a good insulator and you want a dry well to stay open and ice will close it up fast. You can insulate with insulfoam below grade but a good deep open void dry well is hard to freeze.

Do this to your new shop will ya? It's soooooo much easier to do it on the front end.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty
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