How to Avoid 3 Major Mistakes and to Build a Perfect Root Cellar

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Root cellars are used for centuries by now. Storages for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh are vital for any clever and devoted person instead of keeping them frozen in a refrigerator. Though the process seems to be easy enough it is not all about digging a hole in a ground and making a roof over it. This article will tell you how to build root cellar avoiding mistakes.

The main parameters of your root cellar are:

- Size. Your root cellar is not increased easily, so measure everything well to get enough space.
- Drainage. Your floor should have a good drainage system and surrounding soil should also have good draining capabilities.
- Temperature. The air should be kept cool and clean. Intake and exhaust vents are needed for good air conditioning. Thermal insulation over your root cellar will help to keep temperature stable.
- Humidity. It should be kept between 80 and 95%, otherwise your vegetables would be spoiled. No moisture condensation is allowed.

There are a lot of written books and Internet guides upon how to build a root cellar. This article should be helpful, but clearly not sufficient enough. Feel free to acquire as much information as you can before starting the process. This will save you quite an amount of time, nerve and money in the future.

It should be also placed close to your basement to make access easy, but remember about soil draining capacities, so the cellar floor should not reach bedrock. Feel free to contact your local surveyor and make all required measurements. Choosing a wrong place may result in permanent puddles or a layer of water on the floor, which is not good at all.

After all measurements are made, it is finally time to build your root cellar.

First of all dig a hole in the ground. It should be of brick-shaped, with length bigger than width and depth. Try to make the bottom as level as it is possible to make further works easier. Dig some trenches for the drainage pipes, place and connect them to your basement drainage system, if any.


The second step is placing a footing by the perimeter of the hole for your root cellar future walls. It should consist of solid rocks durable and strong enough to hold the weight of the cellar walls and ceiling. Then you should place metal mesh-like screening between those rocks and cover it with gravel. This will restrict both mice from making holes under the floor and gravel from sinking and making your floor uneven.

 This will allow good drainage and exclude moisture and condensation.

After that you have a choice of casting walls of cellar at place, or buying pre-cast cellar with ceiling. This can be a mistake, because concrete is often damaged while transporting in truck and hoisting with the crane.

 If you decide to cast walls in place, you will most likely avoid this. See other guides for instructions upon casting concrete walls. Ceiling is still better bought or made of steel beams and aluminum decking. Don’t forget to make doorway opening in both your basement wall and in future root cellar wall.

This is nearly half the way of how to build your root cellar. Now you have to avoid the second and the third mistakes at once. Use a plenty of cement mixture at interconnection between your cellar and your basement.

Water condensation is plentiful there, so in order to avoid cracking the concrete and jamming the door feel free to use as many isolators like tar, silicate glues and plastic as you wish all around your cellar outer surface.

The third mistake is a common idea that soil is enough to provide stable temperature. It is cooled and heated really slow, and summer warmth will reach the bottom of your cellar in the middle of the winter. That is why you should use some additional thermal insulation from the top and the outer sides of your cellar to keep temperature evenly cool.

Now it is time to finish everything up. Cover the cellar with excavated soil, use some brick or metal covers for keeping vent pipes clear of dirt and small trash like leaves and broken branches, etc.

Supply lighting in the cellar, construct metal shelves of your choice and, finally, install the door.


This is a guide of how to build a root cellar. We know there is much to learn additionally, so feel free to look through other guides and books before starting the process. When you will have this cellar completed, you will provide your family a perfect storage for food supplies and have vegetables and fruits kept fresh throughout the year. Do it and you will like it!
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