Reasons Why Your Barrel Sauna Leaking (And How to Fix)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re having trouble with your barrel sauna leaking, you may start rethinking your sauna choice. However, this is one of the most common phenomena when it comes to barrel saunas.

Barrel saunas are often located outside and are exposed to weather elements.  A barrel sauna leaking may not initially seem problematic, but over time it can cause significant issues.  

So, what causes the leak and what can you do about it? Let’s find out.

What Causes Barrel Sauna Leaking?

With a literal barrel design, the wooden slats have gaps between them. This is necessary if your sauna is going to be able to survive the expansion and contraction that happen with temperature changes.

However, this design leads, inevitably, to leaking in the roof, which isn’t a sight that we like to see.

What About Resin Leaking?

Apart from that, if your barrel sauna is made from pine or spruce wood, it’ll have most of the resin that holds the wooden pieces together in the pores. When the temperature rises, this resin melts and leaks.

This problem is even more enhanced if you live in an area where it snows or, of course, rains a lot.

Again, this is a natural response to the design, so there’s not much that you can do about it. The only counter to this issue is having a larch or thermowood barrel sauna, either of which would come at a much higher price.

Thermowood is among the best choices because it’s the most tolerant of humidity and high temperatures. This means that it doesn’t deform as others do. Not to mention, it prevents resin leaking as all the resin is removed during its industrial processing.

Don’t Neglect a Leak in a Barrel Sauna

While it may be tempting to ignore a leaking barrel sauna, it could potentially lead to significant issues:  

Damage to the Sauna Structure

Water leaks can lead to damage to the wooden structure of the sauna. Over time, exposure to moisture can cause the wood to warp, rot, or decay. This not only affects the aesthetic appeal of the sauna but also compromises its structural integrity.

Reduced Performance

Leaks can compromise the effectiveness of the sauna in maintaining a consistent and comfortable temperature. Water infiltration may affect the insulation properties of the sauna, making it less energy-efficient and reducing its ability to reach and maintain desired temperatures.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Moisture inside the sauna can create a conducive environment for the growth of mold and mildew. This not only poses health risks but can also lead to unpleasant odors and damage to interior surfaces.

Electrical Hazards

If your sauna has electrical components, such as heaters or lights, water leaks can pose a risk of electrical hazards. Water and electricity do not mix well, and any water entering electrical components can lead to malfunctions or safety hazards.

Decreased Lifespan

Continuous exposure to water can significantly shorten the lifespan of a sauna. Regular maintenance and addressing leaks promptly are essential to ensure the longevity of the sauna.

If you notice any signs of leakage, it’s important to investigate and address the issue as soon as possible. 

Barrel Sauna Roof: How to Fix Barrel Sauna Leaking?

In many cases, the leak is occurring at the roof of the sauna.  The most straightforward way to fix a barrel sauna leaking is to add another layer on top of your roof. 

The two most common options are shingles or a metal roof, but you can also use canvas or a tarp if you’re on a budget.

Better yet, you can use a layer of tarp and then add your shingles or metal roofing. This way you guarantee extra protection against leaking.

Barrel Sauna Shingles Roof

Shingles are available in an abundance of shapes, colors, and textures. This abundance makes shingles easy to obtain, make, and install.

Moreover, shingles are easy to work with. What’s more, you can mix multiple colors or textures to add an aesthetic look to your barrel sauna’s roofing. 

While shingles aren’t the most durable option, they’ll last at least ten years. However, you can’t count on them in areas with lots of rain, and specifically in areas with excessive snow. That’s because they retain snow over time.

On top of that, shingles are more prone to damage in extreme weather conditions.

Barrel Sauna Metal Roof

A metal option is quite sturdy and edgy. It’ll provide the ultimate protection, but it won’t look as aesthetic as shingles would.

The best part about a metal roof is that it’s there to stay. With high longevity, it’ll last longer than any other material you could use.

Not to mention, the cost of maintenance isn’t so high. However, if your barrel is exposed to plenty of rain or snow, the cost of maintenance can quickly accumulate. 

However, if you don’t have the budget, you’ll find that the installation cost of a metal roof is a lot more burdening.

Add to that, it’ll weigh more. This could be problematic if you take the barrel sauna’s capacity to bear load into account.

Other Ways to Fix a Leaking Barrel Sauna

If the leak isn’t necessarily related to the roof, here are several other ways to address common issues:

Seal Joints and Seams

If the leak is coming from joints or seams between the staves or planks, you may need to reseal these areas. Use a high-quality outdoor wood sealant or caulk that is suitable for saunas. Ensure that the sauna is dry before applying the sealant.

Check the Door Seal

The door is a common source of leaks. Inspect the door seal for any signs of damage or wear. If the seal is compromised, consider replacing it with a new one. Ensure that the door closes tightly and that there are no gaps.

Inspect Windows and Vents

If your sauna has windows or vents, check these areas for potential leaks. Ensure that any seals around windows are intact, and that vents are properly installed and sealed. Repair or replace any damaged components.

Address Wood Damage

If the wood has been damaged by the leak, you may need to replace the affected sections. Ensure that the replacement wood matches the original in terms of type and dimensions. Once replaced, seal the new wood properly.

Improve Drainage Around the Sauna

Ensure that the area around the sauna has proper drainage to prevent water accumulation. If the sauna is on an uneven or sloped surface, consider making adjustments to improve water runoff.

Maintain Proper Ventilation

Adequate ventilation helps control humidity inside the sauna and reduces the risk of moisture-related issues. Ensure that vents are functioning properly and consider adding ventilation if needed.

Is a Barrel Sauna Worth the Leaking Hassle?

With all this hassle regarding leaking and installing a roof, you may begin to think why a barrel sauna is worth it in the first place.

Barrel saunas are quite effective at what they do, and even efficient at doing it. The cylindrical shape makes the sauna heat up quicker, reaching a perfectly balanced temperature in around 45 minutes.

As such, barrel saunas are cost-efficient. That’s also because the same heater would take a longer time to heat up a room of the same size if it weren’t cylindrical.

Not to mention, the shape pushes the steam to stay where you can enjoy it. In a regular sauna, it would run off to the corner.


How can I counter barrel sauna leaking without installing a roof?

A handy trick to fix leaks in a barrel sauna is to throw a tarp over it and start a heater to dry it out. You can even kick back and relax in the sauna while it dries. You’ll certainly enjoy the intensity of the humidity that results from the setup.

How can I protect my barrel sauna without a roof?

Some companies sell a rain jacket that’s designed specially to protect your barrel sauna from the rain. It’s the best option to keep your barrel sauna safe and sound when not in use.

Final Takeaway

You can rest assured that barrel sauna leaking is a common problem for many owners. Fortunately, if you located and remedy the leak in a timely manner, you can avoid significant issues down the road.

Repairing or replacing the roof is a common first step to fix leaks in a barrel sauna. If you don’t want to bother with installation and costs, you can also opt for a canvas or a tarp.

Happy Lounging!

Leave a Comment