How Yurts Adapt to Varying Seasons & Climates

mongolian yurt in wintertime

Being made of mostly natural material in a country that is often very dry, Mongolian yurts must be protected from humidity. This is accomplished by a careful selection of material, wood, felts, paints, sealants, ropes and canvases.

Developing alternative parts and manufacturing processes without eliminating traditions is another important practice that we engage in. It’s often a slow process, but is essential for the improvement of our yurts, especially across varying climates. This is our job, which we love and are passionate about.

Best Location for Your Yurt

Choosing the right location for your yurt is another very important aspect of our role.

Installing your yurt in the midst of a rain forest and forgetting about it for a year is not advisable, as this will likely result in the structure being reduced to a pile of wood and well on its way to becoming part of the soil that it was erected on.

In general, it is best to install your yurt in a ventilated area, preferably away from a tree base or near a bush. Additionally, having the sun shine on your yurt every once in a while, is a good thing.

A yurt/ger should be considered a living structure and will flourish if it is used and taken care of. Therefore, people who live in their yurts or use them very regularly will get the most out of their new dwelling.

Yurts are all set up to be heated and ventilated, and with only the occasional tensioning of ropes, the occupants can maintain these systems.

The yurts also love to be reset occasionally or taken down and stored in a dry place, if there are no plans to use it for 6+ months.

Our customers have been successfully using Mongolian yurts in the humid islands of British Columbia and in Iceland, where the elements can be rather extreme. The beauty of the concept is its simplicity and adaptability to almost any climate. Some tweaking might be necessary.

doing maintenance on a yurt in winter

Yurts are Breathing!

One of the best qualities of the Mongolian yurt is that it breathes.

This is largely due to the canvas used, which is also water resistant, but not waterproof.

We therefore recommend adding a layer of house wrap in humid regions. This can either be acquired through purchase or can be made yourself, with the help of our instructions. It should be installed between the outer canvas and the felt insulation, and will ensure that humidity is taken care of, while maintaining its breathability.

So far, this has been the best compromise we’ve found and therefore we’ve been using it for over 10 years.

In the eastern part of Mongolia, where humidity is higher and house wrap or water repellant are nowhere to be found, yurts are sometimes installed under a roof during the rainy season.

However, this house wrap does have its down sides: it slightly reduces the breathability and must be completely intact to not let any water in. Not all house wraps are equal. Some breathe better. Some hold no water. Some wear out over time under the rubbing of the canvas in the wind.

Having some humidity spots here and there is not unusual and can be easily fixed. Having very large wet areas in the ceiling or walls is not a good sign and should be addressed.

Mongolian yurt in Canadian winter

Year-Round Yurt Living – Common Issues

With an increasing amount of people living in Mongolian yurts year-round, we started to notice condensation issues, mostly in cold winter climates.

Common sources of humidity from yurt dwellers are cooking, drying of clothes or wood, tracking in snow from boots, propane stoves, etc. The moisture evaporates, penetrates the insulation, hits the cold house wrap, condensates and accumulates in the felts to the point of dripping back down.

It is very important to monitor the level of humidity produced in the yurt – and ventilate accordingly, preferably through the toono, to give a chance for this moisture to evacuate.

This is necessary even if one has a tendency of closing everything to prevent heat from escaping.

Wood stoves are best to dry a yurt from inside out, but it is still important to remove the snow off the roof. Melted snow can accumulate under the canvas, freeze on the house wrap and further reduce breathability.

Additionally, ice can start to build up at the edge of the roof, creating beautiful ‘yurtcicles.’ This ice accumulation is not necessarily good for the canvas and can prevent effective water drainage from the roof. One way to get rid of overnight ice accumulation is to increase the temperature of the fire in the stove, while tapping the ceiling from inside the yurt.

Adapting to Your Yurt

A yurt will react differently depending on where and how it is used.

You will adapt to your yurt and, likewise, the yurt will adapt to your needs.

The structure is so simple that there’s always a solution. We have accumulated a fair bit of experience over the years and are always ‘at yurt service’ to discuss adjustments and solutions.

Happy yurting – winter, summer and all year round!