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Building a Root Cellar


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#1 BTS ONLINE  

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Posted May 18, 2016 - 11:23 PM

Ok, the garden is bigger then ever, we are growing lots of potatoes (150lbs) and we might be planting more and we don't have any place to store anything. So for now I am going to bury, a couple old chest freezers for storage until I get something bigger built.

 

Anyway, my question is, the root cellar I am wanting to build is going to be approx 14' wide, 24' long, 4' below ground and 4' above ground. I am going to build a long (ish) ramp that is approx 8' wide so I can back a garden tractor with trailer down there and easily get around with a wheel barrow. I am also going to put in roller conveyors going down into the cellar so I can easily send down boxes of produce. My first plan to build a cellar was to dig the hole, lay a 3 or so foot tall wall out of cement blocks (I already have a ton of blocks) and concrete, then rip in two a 14' wide grain bin that I got free so it is in the shape of a round top shed. I will then place the half of a grain bin on the foundation so the bin will be a couple feet below ground with the top sticking out. Then I would bury the rest of the bin sticking out with a foot or two of dirt. I would use both sides of the bin to make the cellar longer, because I figure if I'm digging the hole and going to this much trouble, I might as well make it a good size.

My concern is, how much weight can the bin hold? I don't want it to collapse when I start putting the dirt on.

My other idea was to make wooden walls and put tin on them. Basically I will just build a wood frame tin building and bury it under ground but I don't know if my tin would rust away to fast? I also thought about putting a tarp (I have tons of tarp from the COOP) between the tin and the dirt to keep it from rusting, but I didn't know if that would help?.

 

Anyone have any ideas or has anyone built anything like this before?
I'm probably not going to have time to start on this anytime soon, but I would like to start drawing up some plans.

Thanks for any info and sorry for the long post.

 



#2 skyrydr2 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 03:29 AM

Any exposure to the sky will make it hot when sunny and freeze in the winter, they really need to under ground, and best if made from earthen materials, stone,brick, cement ect. 3-4 foot below grade at the ceiling, most effective dug into a side hill, this way heavy rains won't fill it up. It needs to stay cool,and dry but not too dry...about 50-75℅ relative humidity max at 75%. And absolutely zero light!!
Make 8' tall block walls , cover your block box with steel decking( made for concrete floors) and pour concrete over the top. Then backfill and landscape. you dont want to be driving on top of it.
Yup its costly up front, but way cheaper in the long run, as it costs nothing to keep cool. And if ever haf a storm, its the place to be!
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#3 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 06:57 AM

I like SKYRYDR2s' advice. I want to expand on two things, the roof and walls designs.

 

The roof needs to be designed properly. The steel deck pieces are a great idea but they will need bracing while the concrete is poured and cures. The thickness of the concrete slab, reinforcing bars, concrete specifications, and expected loads must be considered and properly designed by a qualified engineer. The weight of the soil on top and some wrong way vehicle must be included in the design.

 

The walls will need to be stronger than plain hollow core block construction. There will need to be reinforcing, pilaster spacing will need to be designed, cores will probably need to be filled, and a sealing system used.

 

This could be a great asset for you. It can shelter your garden bounty and may save your lives in the event of a severe storm. I would also design it so that the entrance area doubles as a tractor shed. Good Luck, Rick


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#4 Auburn David OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:18 AM

They bury old simi trailers here.they work well and double as a storm shelter.


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#5 BTS ONLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:44 AM

Any exposure to the sky will make it hot when sunny and freeze in the winter, they really need to under ground, and best if made from earthen materials, stone,brick, cement ect. 3-4 foot below grade at the ceiling, most effective dug into a side hill, this way heavy rains won't fill it up.

 

I would cover it with a couple feet of dirt so it would be insulated, I would also fill all the bricks with cement and rebar driven in the blocks.

I also don't have any hillsides to build into, but I figure I will put a drain in at the bottom of my ramp, I will also slope all the dirt around it so water runs away from the cellar and I will put up a roof over the entrance to keep most of the rain out.


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#6 BTS ONLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:52 AM

They bury old simi trailers here.they work well and double as a storm shelter.

 

We thought about a simi trailer, but the problem is I don't have one lol. I know they are cheap but hauling one out here would be hard. Although I think my neighbor a mile away has one, maybe I'll look into that and see what I can come up with.


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#7 Auburn David OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:58 AM

We thought about a simi trailer, but the problem is I don't have one lol. I know they are cheap but hauling one out here would be hard. Although I think my neighbor a mile away has one, maybe I'll look into that and see what I can come up with.

Keep us updated what ever you do..this would be interesting to follow..need live cams on some of the projects I see on this site...LOL :camera:


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#8 CanadianHobbyFarmer OFFLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 04:24 PM

Keep in mind that anything wood or steel that you bury will eventually rot or rust away and need to be replaced one day. I personally would not use the grain bin for the roof. It was designed to withstand a load pushing from the inside, outwards, equally in all directions. Your application will have the load pushing in and it will not likely be equal at all points. It may be strong enough (i'm not an engineer), but it will begin to rust if buried and it will weaken as it rusts. 

 

I am planning on building a cold cellar as well (same thing as a root cellar), but a lot smaller than yours. I plan to do 5' concrete walls set 4' into the ground, with wood frame walls on top to bring the total height to 8',  steel clad wood frame roof and insulate the heck out of it. My basement is only 4' into the ground (about 7-1/2' high) and stays reasonably cool all summer with no insulation, so a cold cellar built like that should work well for me. It is also going to go on the north side of the house where the sun can't get at it.

 

Jim


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#9 BTS ONLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:29 PM

Keep us updated what ever you do..this would be interesting to follow..need live cams on some of the projects I see on this site...LOL :camera:

 

I doubt I will get it done this year, I'm going to bury several chest freezers for now. The big thing is I'm probably going to half to buy a machine or rent one, for digging the big cellar, I have a backhoe for my Kubota but that's a lot of digging for my little 20hp tractor.


Edited by BTS, May 19, 2016 - 09:35 PM.


#10 BTS ONLINE  

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Posted May 19, 2016 - 09:42 PM

Keep in mind that anything wood or steel that you bury will eventually rot or rust away and need to be replaced one day. I personally would not use the grain bin for the roof. It was designed to withstand a load pushing from the inside, outwards, equally in all directions. Your application will have the load pushing in and it will not likely be equal at all points. It may be strong enough (i'm not an engineer), but it will begin to rust if buried and it will weaken as it rusts. 

 

I am planning on building a cold cellar as well (same thing as a root cellar), but a lot smaller than yours. I plan to do 5' concrete walls set 4' into the ground, with wood frame walls on top to bring the total height to 8',  steel clad wood frame roof and insulate the heck out of it. My basement is only 4' into the ground (about 7-1/2' high) and stays reasonably cool all summer with no insulation, so a cold cellar built like that should work well for me. It is also going to go on the north side of the house where the sun can't get at it.

 

Jim

 

Rusting or rotting was also my concern.

I also thought about making a regular wood/tin roof and insulating it really good and leaving the dirt off of it.



#11 Alc ONLINE  

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Posted May 20, 2016 - 05:25 AM

 

I also thought about making a regular wood/tin roof and insulating it really good and leaving the dirt off of it.

I would think that would end up cheaper even with cost of insulation , you could use Styrofoam board on the inside and maybe then regular roof rafters with fiberglass between with a vapor barrier between the rafters and foam board might keep the wood from rotting   . Then just metal roofing or shingles for the roof  ,   


Edited by Alc, May 20, 2016 - 05:27 AM.

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