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Building a root cellar in MI. Need advice - high water table & low frost line.

3934 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  random
We are in the process of building an underground root cellar. We live in Michigan with a frost line of 3ft 6” and as we have reached our 4 ft digging level (as our root cellar instructions say) we found the ground gets soggy. We still need to dig another foot deeper to pour concrete for the footer.
Now the questions are: Can we still build at this level with the soggy ground? If we come up 2” inches the ground is no longer soggy. Can we just build the root cellar a little higher up and still manage good storage conditions? We prefer not to have to put in a sub pump. Are there any other options for keeping water out?
Also with our frost line at 3ft 6inches, will that cause storage problems?
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The problem of not going below the frostline in soggy ground is that you may get a lot of heaving of your floor & foundation from the freeze/thaw cycles. Even if you have good water proofing, your building essentially becomes a boat floating in the water table..... Consider building less deep, but earth-berming, effectively making it deeper.

Here in WI, our frost line is 66 inches. It makes the the benefits of building a root cellar cost prohibitive when potatoes only cost 50c/lb in the store. I just keep 'em in the garage heated to `~60deg over winter. They do fine that way, but start to sprout late Feb/ early Mar. Not a problem.
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Do the math on that dirt. It is going to be amazingly heavy. Then add the weight of the water that it will be saturated with after a heavy rain.
Rule of thumb: 1 cu ft of water saturated soil weighs 20 lb----a 10x10 roof with 3.5 ft of wet soil on top would need to support 7000 lb (!!)
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