The Forestry Forum is sponsored in part by:




TimberKing Sawmills




Toll Free 1-800-582-0470

LogRite Tools



Forest Products Industry Insurance


Norwood Industries Inc.


Sawmill & Woodlot Magazine



Your source for Portable Sawmills, Edgers, Resaws, Sharpeners, Setters, Bandsaw Blades and Sawmill Parts

EZ Boardwalk Sawmills. More Saw For Less Money!

STIHLDealers.com sponsored by Northeast STIHL


Woodland Sawmills

Peterson Swingmills

 KASCO SharpTech WoodMaxx Blades


Turbosawmill

Sawmill Exchange

BRUTE FORCE Authorized Dealer

Woodshax Outdoor Vending Solutions

FARMA


Council Tool

Baker Products

Forestry Forum Tool Box

Author Topic: Underground Root Cellar Construction  (Read 31219 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Jeff

  • Fearless Leader
  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 44951
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Harrison MI
  • Gender: Male
  • Proverbs 13:20
    • THEE Forestry Forum
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2011, 09:18:38 pm »
Twenty years does not sound like a long time unless you only have 10 years to live.  You figure if it only lasts twenty years, at some point in the latter part of its life you have to worry about it caving in.
Just call me the midget doctor.
Forestry Forum Founder and Chief Bottle Washer.

Offline Jasperfield

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 655
  • Location: Western NC
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2011, 10:56:12 pm »
The thing to be aware of re the walls is hydrostatic pressure. If the dirt is backfilled directly onto the walls and later that same dirt becomes wet (which it will) or possibly even saturated, then the lateral load on the walls will become very high.

To avoid this condition, place stone about the size of d50 railroad ballast, or smaller, against the wall as you backfill. You'll only need a one or 1.5' width of this stone. This will prevent soil borne water from creating hydrostatic pressure against the walls.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2011, 01:26:35 am »
Twenty years does not sound like a long time unless you only have 10 years to live.  You figure if it only lasts twenty years, at some point in the latter part of its life you have to worry about it caving in.

With my injuries and exposure to nerve gas and excessive oil well smoke I hope I'm healthy enough in 20 years to be there and using the root cellar ;)

Seriously though, you have to pick your battles and it is entirely possible that a well made wood root cellar will last three decades or possible even more.  After all, there are still mines with wood beams holding up sections that were places 100 years ago.  Not saying I'd want to go in there but I am saying that it is possible to have a root cellar made of wood last a LOT longer then you might think.

For one, remember I mentioned 60 mil plastic?  It isn't just a plastic bag I'm talking about here folks, but rather EDPM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPDM_rubber) which is used by people who build underground houses with wood beams etc.

If you build it strong and coat it correctly then it is possible it will be around a long long time and if it is maintained properly with some care and repair it is possible it will out last this old jarhead :)

If not, I'll dig it out and concrete it in (in 20 years it's more likely that my sons will mind you).

That's my plan anyway ;)
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline red

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1953
  • Location: ne PA
  • Gender: Male
  • we will never forget
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2011, 06:43:23 am »
how about a vent
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

Offline Farmboy

  • member
  • *
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: British Columbia
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2011, 02:28:27 pm »
I was speaking with a friend of mine from Sweden.  He told me that all of theirs are built out of stone with mortar.  Not sure if your site would provide you with the materials for this, but it may be worth considering.  You likely wouldn't need to bring in too much mortar to complete your project.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2011, 04:04:46 pm »
I was speaking with a friend of mine from Sweden.  He told me that all of theirs are built out of stone with mortar.  Not sure if your site would provide you with the materials for this, but it may be worth considering.  You likely wouldn't need to bring in too much mortar to complete your project.

I do have a lot of rock on the property (granite mostly I think)...but I know nothing of mortaring a wall together (though I wouldn't mind learning).

It is appealing to me anyway.
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2011, 04:35:43 pm »
http://floydcountyinview.com/rcconstruction.html
30+ years?  His root cellar is smaller then what I'm planning (and have dig already) but it encourages me to stick to my plans.
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2011, 04:40:26 pm »

Looking towards the root cellar.


Standing in and looking out of the hole.

2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline laffs

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Age: 57
  • Location: maine
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2011, 09:14:55 pm »
 
the old ones i see in the woods where i hunt were made with stone. tapered from the bottom to the top. the taper, i was told served two purposes. 1. they could use the taper rocks as staging to pot up the higher rocks. 2.it kept the soil away from the inner wall.

you could mortar or plaster the inner wall. id pour the roof, build a form and use rebar. crushed stone or sand on the floor.

thats just the hippie in me talking , you do as you want
timber harvester,tinberjack230,34hp kubota,job ace excavator carpenter tools up the yingyang,

Offline krusty

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 148
  • Location: Canuckistan
  • I'm new!
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2011, 08:45:21 pm »
I ended up going with a concrete septic tank that was new but had a defect in it and would never be used for sewage purposes. After much dust and cursing I had a door cut in the wall and was the fastest way to get one that will last many lifetimes.

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2011, 05:09:57 pm »
I'm starting to shape up my plan with some modifications (thanks to a conversation with a fellow forum member a week ago or so).

My plan is to use RR Ties as posts and to frame between them with 2x6's, then cover the walls (exterior) with either milled and treated pine or PT ply -- still deciding there.  The top plate on the walls will be RR Ties also.  The ties will be sunk 12-18" down below grade and possibly concreted in place or set on ties (still thinking).

The roof will be framed with a center beam to added support and min 8" logs milled to 8" depth on two sides but left round on the others (basically a two sided cant).  Above those will be 2x's nailed to the log beams.

All of this will be covered in 60 mil plastic to drains around the outside before back-filling.  During back-filling we will try to ensure drain rock is placed between wall and dirt.

Two vents will be installed.  One vent will be installed near the ceiling while the other will be close to the floor.  Both will have screens and be fitted with 180 degree bends above ground to stop snow/rain from entering via the vents.  Each vent will have a wood 'flap' valve to allow them to be shut off in very high or very low temperatures.

The 'airlock' room will be slightly smaller but perhaps large enough to allow storage of things separate from the main cellar that don't need as well regulated temperatures and humidity.  I'm thinking 6 feet deep by 8 feet wide.

In front of the 'air lock' room I'm thinking of enclosing a 6'x6' space and running stairs out from it to ground level with typical sloped cellar doors above.

This will give me an outer set of doors I can lock, and two inner doors.

I expect with it being 10 feet down at the floor with 2 feet of ground cover the temperature should remain very constant year round :)

Wish me luck!
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline routestep

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 219
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2011, 09:59:46 am »
My brother just got a root cellar approved by the building inspector but he hasn't started digging yet.

10 by 12 by 8ft tall.

12 in block, groot down every other hole with #5 rebar

Curved ceiling poured concrete ( 7 inches thick at the centerline) with rebar both directions (#7 I think !)

Back fill with 3 feet of dirt overhead

Two 6 inch air vents through the ceiling.

I think he could use it as a bomb shelter the way it was engineered.

Not sure just when the digging starts, he spends half the day looking at weather radar on his new phone device.

Offline lynches lumber

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 97
  • Location: bethune, SC
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #32 on: September 01, 2011, 03:39:02 pm »
oljarhead_ any updates?

Offline fishpharmer

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 4608
  • Age: 51
  • Location: Mississippi
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #33 on: September 01, 2011, 11:48:22 pm »
Google "Mike Oehler"
Built my own band mill with the help of Forestry Forum. 
Lucas 618 with 50" slabber
WoodmizerLT-40 Super Hydraulic
Deere 5065E mfwd w/553 loader

The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work. --Tom A. Edison

Offline SwampDonkey

  • Forester
  • *
  • Posts: 35208
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Centreville, NB
  • Gender: Male
  • Large Tooth
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2011, 05:33:47 am »
Being as I'm in potato country, there were root cellars all through the country until all the new potato shed construction was becoming above ground in the 1980's. They were all cement walled and floors and it was very cool in the summer. But for bulk storage they needed to strap wood to the walls for air flow and it also kept potatoes from freezing near frost pockets where the walls where near the surface of the earthen banks. Like any living thing, root crops respire and that makes heat. Most sheds only needed a heat source near the doors of the buildings, usually wood and sometimes something like a salamander or what was called a silent glow stove that burned stove oil and sounded like a jet engine. I don't know where the silent came into it. My father used wood and then the stove was used when the doors where opened for loading trucks because often times the sheds where pretty stuffed with taters up to within 20 feet of the doors. ;)


An old trick in the spring time, April in these parts, was to use the front end loader and scoop up some snow from a big old snow drift and place a pile of it at the entry of the sheds, but where the melt water has a place to drain away. I know one old farmer that still does this in his above ground sheds, as he grows seed potatoes and you can't put sprout inhibitor on seed. It's like a free air cooling system. In ice houses they used river ice and ice from the north country up here, and I assume Michigan to, was shipped by boats for far and wide. It was a big industry. Anyway, the ice was layered with sawdust and it kept pretty good until mid summer. These shacks were also in the side of a earthen bank. My grandfather hauled ice from the river until the 50's and for folks all over the area, as did others.

I've enjoyed reading your thread.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

'If she wants to play lumberjack, she's going to have to learn to handle her end of the log.'
Dirty Harry

Offline Thehardway

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 934
  • Location: Virginia
  • Gender: Male
  • Doin' it the hard way!
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #35 on: September 16, 2011, 09:08:08 am »
It sounds to me like there are several different ideas or theories as to what a root cellar is.  My grandparents had what they called a "root cellar" in their basement,  a home which my grandfather constructed in the 1950's.  It was no different than the rest of the basement other than they never poured the floor.  This was to provide humidity and cooling through evaporation.

Some of what is described here sounds like what we call ice houses.  All concrete or stone.  Ice blocks were cut from the river in winter and put in the ice house.  Sawdust was often put on the concrete floor to insulate the ice from the floor and make it last longer.

There is a root cellar at my current home. It was made of 8" block and has a gravel floor and a wood roof.  The roof is not covered with soil, instead a shed was built on top.  3 Sides are bermed. It has concrete shelves for vegetable storage 

I would not use edpm in a root cellar as it needs to breathe well. The evaporation of moisture from the earth, condensation evaporation from the masonry walls etc. provides extra cooling and keeps the humidity levels up. If the space is too tight and does not breathe well your food will rot.

I would make a vote for a slip formed stone/mortar structure.  Slip forming is not difficult.  Make a 2 sided box the width you desire the thickness of you walls to be. and about 2' high  I would go with about 18" wide. You then you place mortar in it, set stones in the mortar fitting the stone together in the bottom as close as possible like a puzzle, more mortar, more stone, more or less fitting the stone in the mortar as close as possible and using the form as your vertical guide to contain the stone and mortar. after you have the 2 ' filled in, you let it set up overnight and the following day you raise the forms and go up another 2' in the same manner until you have acheived the height desired.  This is pretty basic and provided you keep your mortar mixed properly and your stones fairly clean it will provide a very durable wall.  Use a tamped earthen floor and  this would make a very traditional root cellar.

Another method is called ferrocement.  You form the stucture in an arch with light wood. Over this you place chicken wire.  Cover the chicken wire with a layer of cement troweled on. Put more chicken wire over this while wet so it embeds. allow it to dry, repeat until you have several thicknesses built up to the desired strength.  once it has hardened thoroughly (20 days) you can remove the light wood frame. The inside is then plastered with a lime based mortar and you are all set.  Ferro cement arches are extremely strong.  they do not have to be as thick as what you might think. The strength is in the shape, uniform loading, and the way cement and steel bond together.  They actually made concrete ships in this manner.  They were thin enough to be light in the water but strong enough to hold a considerable payload and the pressure of the water.


Just a thought.  Good luck with your project.
Norwood LM2000 24HP w/28' bed, Hudson Oscar 18" 32' bed, Woodmaster 718 planer,  Kubota L185D, Stihl 029, Husqvarna 550XP

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2011, 04:38:06 pm »
oljarhead_ any updates?

Sorry no.

I've been working on various other projects (interior paneling, floors, kitchen, pump etc) and haven't had a chance to get back to the root cellar.  I plan to do the root cellar in the spring but for now it's just a big hole :)
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL

Offline den

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 151
  • Location: Greencastle,PA.
  • Gender: Male
Homelite SuperXL, 360, Sotz M-20 20lb. Monster Maul, Wallenstein BXM-42

Offline den

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 151
  • Location: Greencastle,PA.
  • Gender: Male
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #38 on: October 15, 2011, 10:43:06 pm »
Homelite SuperXL, 360, Sotz M-20 20lb. Monster Maul, Wallenstein BXM-42

Offline OlJarhead

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1870
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Moses Lake, Washington
  • Gender: Male
    • SEWA-Darts.com
Re: Underground Root Cellar Construction
« Reply #39 on: October 17, 2011, 09:41:09 am »
Interesting stuff.  Thanks guys.

I'm torn between Railroad Tie posts and log beams (or tie beams) and concrete as well as 2x framing but still unsure which way I'm going to go.

Been working on the cabin too much lately to get back to this...the hole is dug though :)
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL