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Indoor Root Cellar Anyone?

Discussion in 'DIY - Do-It-Yourself Projects, Construction, Etc.' started by MoonShadows, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. Mar 2, 2016
    MoonShadows

    MoonShadows Almost Self-Reliant

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    I am interested in constructing a root cellar, and have been looking all over the internet at variations. I guess when we think of a root cellar, we think of the traditional "cave" type structure either built into the ground or the side of a hill. Variations of root cellars employ everything from burying an old refrigerator or freezer with the door at ground level to digging a hole and lining it with plastic to buying a concrete septic/sewer tank and burying that...and those are just scratching the surface for variations.

    Well for a handful of reasons, I do not want to build my root cellar outside. I want something larger than a quick hole in the ground and don't want the expense of a traditional root cellar, nor do I want to start moving large amounts of earth since I don't have the resources for this type of project. I also don't want to have to go outside if the winter weather is fowl for a turnip, carrots, onions and potatoes for the stew I'm cooking up that night.

    So, I am thinking of building one in my cellar. The easiest way would be to use an existing concrete pit I already have. Back in the day (this house was built in 1860) they used to pump water up from a spring down in the field about 150 yards from the house. (I found all that piping above ground when we first moved in and cut it up for plant poles.) Then it entered an outside cistern. From the cistern, it went into a 25 foot deep, rock-lined well, and from there it was brought into the house at the bottom of this pit which is about 4' x 5' wide and about 10 - 12' deep. It even has a ladder, although I get the heebie jeebies going down there fearing some big old spider or snake. This water system is now defunct.

    I am also thinking of building a "cold room" in one corner of the cellar that faces north. The old rock and cement walls are at least 2' thick and are completely underground. There is already L-shaped shelving that creates a "room" in that corner. All I would have to do is cover the ceiling and shelving, insulate, run a vent and intake, and I'd be in business....I think. I don't know if I would be able to get large enough vent pipes through that massive wall.

    So, my questions are two:
    1. Does anyone have one of these cold rooms as a root cellar, and how well does it work as opposed to going below ground?
    2. If I have to run the intake and vent pipes a longer distance through the cellar to a more amenable wall, will the air flow system work?

    Any insight or guidance is appreciated.
     
  2. Mar 2, 2016
    Denim Deb

    Denim Deb More Precious than Rubies

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    Don't have one, but I'll be interested in seeing how you do. I've often thought that I'd like to build something in my basement. I drew up plans years ago, gave them to hubby and that's the last I've seen of them.
     
  3. Mar 2, 2016
    sumi

    sumi Sustainability Master Administrator

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    Can you post some pics of what you got there, @MoonShadows?
     
  4. Mar 2, 2016
    MoonShadows

    MoonShadows Almost Self-Reliant

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    I went down to the cellar to take some pics and then realized the Pit (which has a wood cover over it) has a ton of things sitting on it, so when I get them moved, I'll take a few pics. It's just not in the schedule for today.

    But the other side of the cellar I was able to get a couple of pics of....even though the area is loaded with stuff, too!

    base1.jpg

    This area, counting the shelf space is about 6 or 7' x 8 or 9'. I would have to cover those pipes. They are heat pipes and insulate the ceiling. The area on the left where that stuff is piled up, is actually a "concrete shelf" that sticks out about 2 feet. I am guessing they did that at some point to cover the ground rock. The house is built on a sloping underground stone shelf. As you can see, there is a "doorway" into "room". I can only guess that at one time this was a cold storage area, and someone removed the walls...or, someone was building a storage area and never finished. As I said, my biggest concern with be the cold air intake and warm vent pipes. No way I am getting through this wall. It would be easy to vent the pit in the opposite corner...there is a window just above and to the left. I could take out the glass and run the pipes there. But, the pit isn't as easy to access, especially as we get older.

    base2.jpg

    In this view you get a better angle at the shelves (even though they are partially hidden by all that stuff) that are opposite the northern most wall.
     
  5. Mar 2, 2016
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    We've had our cellar in the basement at various houses and the venting works fine if it has to travel. One thing that's usually absent in a basement, though, is the humidity one finds in a regular cellar, especially if the basement has a cement floor and isn't leaky. Some let in just enough moisture to make great cellars. I've had both and the dry basement presents a challenge for storing root crops.

    It will be interesting to see how you overcome your singular issues.
     
    tortoise likes this.
  6. Mar 3, 2016
    MoonShadows

    MoonShadows Almost Self-Reliant

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    How about traveling up to 20 feet? And, with a bend?

    I keep the humidity artificially low in the summer with a dehumidifier, otherwise I get tons of spiders and I'm always walking into webs....but you don't store during the summer. Humidity should not be a problem, but I thought moisture was an enemy of cold storage?
     
  7. Mar 4, 2016
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Mountain Sage

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    Nope...a certain amount of humidity is necessary if you want to keep your taters nice and crisp, not wrinkly and rubbery.

    Not too warm, mind you, but the temps found underground in a cellar or basement are just about ideal if the area is not heated. Around 45-50* seems to be ideal.

    Any ventilation is better than none at all, so I'd go for it, even with the distance and the bend.
     

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