Alaska Root Cellars
I would like to hear from those who have put in root cellars in remote areas. UAF has a PDF file online that covers alot of applications. Here is the link:
But I would like to hear from people who live OFF GRID who actually have a root cellar and 'successfully' used it. Is it under your cabin or another structure? How do you vent in the winter? How do you handle humidity in winter? Did you have a solid floor or earth?
How deep did you go? Did you have problems with ermines or shrews or other critters?
Thanks ahead for any input!
We have a root cellar at our weekend cabin northwest of Trapper Creek. It works well for us. 4’x8’ by 3.5’ deep. Before I started digging I laid 2” foam board around the hole going out at least 4’ on all sides. As I dug, I threw the dirt on the foam board to bury it and protect it.
Once the hole was dug I shored it up with pressure treated lumber and made a top out of foam board and a piece of pressure treated plywood. There’s a hatch in the top board for access into the cellar. In the bottom of the hole I laid weed mat and then about an inch of gravel on top of that to keep from tracking dirt around. Placed a couple of pallet down in there too.
The trail into our cabin is pretty bad in the summer and we do all of our heavy hauling in the winter with snowmachines. The root cellar allows us to haul in drinking water and other beverages in late winter and store them without freezing. In August, we can enjoy a cold beer without having a fridge.
We have had problems with excessive moisture. To the point that fungus started growing on the pressure treated wood. Last spring I built a roof over the hole to shed snowmelt and rainwater off to the sides which slope away from the hole. That has helped a lot with the moisture. I don’t want to vent because I right now the temperature down there seems to stay between 32 and 39 degrees year around.
Hope this helps.
I think that you are have to vent it in some way or the mold will get real bad. You have a certain amount of moisture coming up through the ground. Go to the highest point and vent there even if it is just a 2" vent. That should not let heat into the cellar.
The example in the UAF paper shows they used a vapor barrier to help with moisture. Maybe if you redid yours with vapex, or visquine maybe it would help. The suggestion of having a vent pipe does seem practical. I wonder if black pipe on the south side, and an elbow with a screen covering would suffice?
The example used in the mentioned paper shows actual duct work. But it also mentions the importance of the insulation being below the frost line. In the interior we're a little drier than Anchorage area and the frost lines are deeper in many areas also.
But at least yours is staying above freezing.