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Old 03/25/06, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 124
pre-cast root cellar?

we have been thinking about having a precast concrete cistern custom poured with an opening for the door instead of an opening in the top-if this can be done. thinking about burying this in the side of a hill and putting a door in the open end. anybody out there tried this or something similar. we are looking for a quick, inexpensive, but solid and long lasting and effective root cellar. thanks.
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Old 03/25/06, 05:56 PM
Farmer Willy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: A short way past Oddville
Posts: 1,247
If you think a septic tank might be big enough I'd go to a redimix batch plant, see if they have a damaged tank (idealy a damaged side). You can cut the door yourself with a gas saw. They might let it go for a pittance since it isn't any good as a septic tank. I don't think it will be big enough for a root cellar though. Also, it will have a concrete floor in it---would make a nice underground bunker or storage hole, but not sure it would give you the humidity, ventilation, or drainage for a decent root cellar.
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Old 03/25/06, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: CHINA
Posts: 9,569
My parents is poured 8ft*8ft vented, lights etc right next to garden was poured concrete....homemade forms with rebar sticking out for into cellar area for shelving.....entrance is an old freezer door and then a typical wood door on a has electric too

Cedar logs were used to hold back hill into entrance and roses (for rose hips) were planted on each side of of hill where house was built...has pvc vents and where the vents come up is where the herb garden and an apple tree.....really beautiful design....

I dont have a pic of root cellar....but you can see the garden posts....this pic is from kitchen window of house.....the root cellar is 5 posts right....about 12 ft deep into the hill
Bush in pic is lilac....
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Old 03/26/06, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 124
thanks for the help. might check about the damaged tanks idea. we do not need a large cellar, just the two of us now. also, the poured root cellar sounds pretty good (the picture link did not come through, but that is okay, i appreciate the thought and time)
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Old 03/26/06, 09:34 PM
Join Date: May 2002
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You used the word "inexpensive" ... Have you checked the price of concrete lately...?

Septic tank idea sounds good.
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Old 03/26/06, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 17,087
What ive thought about for a aboveground celler

I dont want a belowground celler cause all of the caves as they were called when they were on the outside, and cellers under the house quit being used when the owners thereof got old and couldnt get up and down them. I thought about using RR ties as walls and filling them up with sawdust as the walls went up. Use 8ft ties for the inside walls and 16ft ties for the outer walls. the 16fters are the ones they use when a spur track runs off the main one. When the wall is up to the highth desired, place plastic on the outside wall and board it up to keep the ties together, Do the same on the inside wall with the plastic and boards on the inside. There would be thereabouts 4ft of space between the outer and inner wall. Lay 2X4s upended together across the top of the inner wall and build your roof. Run say 3ft of ties on both walls around 3/4ft above the 2X4s and then your rafters. Fill all this with sawdust also. Lay the plastic across the rafters, then the cross boards, and shingle with wood or roofing shingles, roll roofing ect. NOT TIN. I woui;ld put a concrete foundation for the floor and extend it a ft beyound thew outer ties, 18ft. Then id put a tie highth of dirt on the inner floor as dirt is a good insulater of any heat there and its better to lay things like potatos on dirt than concrete
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Old 03/26/06, 10:02 PM
woodspirit's Avatar  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Bristol, ny
Posts: 1,274
There is a company that builds the only tornado proof buildings in the world. They use concrete. You might want to do a google on storm buildings.
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Old 03/27/06, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: CHINA
Posts: 9,569
Sorry about the pic....I can get some if you want them...(mine are missing, but my dad does have them)

A little more about it though....the hill is very steep from the knoll where the house sits to lower garden/field....about 60 degree grade and a 20ft drop...the soil up there is very sandy (fine beach sand almost) and it is near Sugarloaf USA in Maine...the floor is sand no stays around 40-45 degrees and lowish the winter the vent is blocked inside partially(to keep cool air from settling) and then eventually the top vent is blocked by snow (not this year however!)

One thing that most folks fail to realize about a root cellar is that "ideal" temp and humidity level varies widely from fruits and vegetables....and the gas given off from ripe fruits can and will hasten ripening in other fruits/vegies....
The gas from ripe apples will help tomatoes ripen for example....I use the chart in one of the books I have to keep track of this info.

Goodluck with yours!
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Old 03/27/06, 09:34 AM
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More information here:
I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.
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Old 03/27/06, 03:26 PM
Registered Nut
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Alaska
Posts: 189
Small Shipping Container

We have friends who buried a 20ft shipping container in an area of the property that had a slope. They had no more use for the container after they built their home etc. They love it.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes" Walt Whitman
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Old 03/27/06, 03:35 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Austin-ish, Texas
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a bit morbid, but....

I've often thought about whether a burial casque would work. I drive past a place that has them, big cement boxes with lids (which, if the box were upright, would leave a big entrance for your door).
"Perhaps I'll have them string a clothesline from the hearse I am in, with my underwear waving in the breeze, as we drive to the cemetary. People worry about the dumbest things!"
by Wendy
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Old 03/27/06, 08:37 PM
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In Remembrance
Join Date: May 2004
Location: SE Missouri
Posts: 28,248
You might want to look into earthbags. I'm thinking I'll try to do a storm shelter/root celler above ground and bermed using the earthbags for a dome building.
I believe in God's willingness to heal.

Cyngbaeld's Keep Heritage Farm, breeding a variety of historical birds and LaMancha goats. (It is pronounced King Bold.)
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Old 03/27/06, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 169
My hubby is in the planning stage of ours. He want to use concrete(or maybe cinder) block. Using rebar going vertically up through them every 4 foot. Then pour those with rebar with cement. Coating the outside of the blocking with waterproofing before pushing back the fill dirt.

Still talking about different methods.
Harvesting is not just what you bring from the ground, but what you bring from inside you!
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Old 03/27/06, 09:00 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 17,225
I bet precast sewer pipe or culvert would work too. As a previous poster mentioned maybe you could find a damaged one (or a used one?).
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Old 03/27/06, 09:01 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 124
thanks to everyone for your ideas! we may have to investigate some of your ideas more before making a decision. an amish gentleman once told me that they used above ground ice houses up north and we have toyed with the idea of building one of those, but we had not thought about aboveground root cellars. hmmmm, maybe i should ask the amish gentleman if a two compartment ice house would work, with one compartment for ice and the other for root cellaring. i also checking out the shelter link. thanks again, folks.
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Old 03/27/06, 10:09 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Ks.
Posts: 234
Ohhh, I like that sandbag-berm idea. Let us know how it works out! Have need for a root cellar and a decent storm/disaster shelter. Our 1/2 basement not a good site.
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Old 03/28/06, 10:21 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 124
regarding the sandbag berm idea, i found this site but does anyone know how stable these are in general and how many years would they be expected to last? indefinitely? does a wet humid climate affect them?
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Old 03/29/06, 05:43 AM
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Flying Z
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 595
Check this out
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