As another winter passes, an examination of our yurt skin reveals numerous puncture holes. A few are courtesy of squirrels, who love to scurry across the dome. Some are stress tears – a result of four years of wind, hail, ice, snow and old age. Many are from branches that have broken from nearby trees and been impelled into the tarpaulin skin. Regardless, each provides a source of leakage, and requires repair.
There are a number of options for repairing these breaks in the waterproof and wind resistant shell.
Most commonly recommended is the use of tarpaulin tape. However, I find this to be the least effective, as, unless the surface is cleaned immaculately and the tape seals in the hot sun before the cool nights or moisture curl the edges, the tape lasts less than a full season.
I have used two more conventional solutions, and been satisfied with both. The first is a simple vinyl repair kit, the type used to repair pool liners, kids’ air mattresses or even bicycle tire tubes. Bicycle repair kits commonly are rubber-based and less effective that vinyl or pvc compounds. The second is kitchen and bathroom silicone sealant. By applying a thick layer under the tarp hole, and then a second thin skin after the first dries, you obtain a good waterproof seal that is also flexible.
The most environmentally friendly solution though, is also the simplest and least expensive: birch or poplar tree resin! By cutting into the tree in the spring, you can obtain a good, thick resin that will harden throughout the summer. When ready for use, simply heat the resin in a small sealed container in boiling water, then apply it in layers as it cools and hardens on the hole. Zero cost, zero impact on the environment! It isd a solution appropriate for the eco-friendly yurt.