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Thread: Walk-in Vault

  1. #1
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Default Walk-in Vault

    Anyone have a walk-in vault/safe room/gun safe that they've built into their house? I dont think it would be too terribly hard to incorporate this into an unfinished basement or something of that nature. Also, with concrete walls, having it fire-rated doesn't seem like too much of an obstacle either. Anyone have any good info or experience with building one?

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  3. #3

    Default YEA

    I built a walk in gun safe and a storm shelter into my master bedroom closet. It has 1/4" thick steel with OSB on the surface covered by 5/8" fire rated sheet rock on both sides. That way I don't have to leave the house to go to the storm shelter in a tornado in the middle of the night.
    The storm shelter/safe weighed over 5000 lbs minus the door and was built on the slab before the house was constructed around it. Bolted down with Red Head fasteners it is solidly affixed to the slab.It's also nearly invisable unless you know where to look.
    The door to the bedroom has a porthole of safety glass to offer a view of the bedroom from inside the closet, No need to step out of the safe room into a SH## storm.
    The safe part holds 48 long guns standing up + 16 more hanging on the wall, 36 handguns on shelves,as well my hunting knives and cameras,with as a small document safe.Has a space on the floor under the rack to store ammo. PLUS it's climate controlled. I don't have that many firearms but I built in room to expand .
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    New member George's Avatar
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    Thumbs up big safe

    What brav01 described is ideal. The one I have is built in. It is reinf. 8" concrete on all 6 sides- not counting the door of course. Three things should be considered for the best ones. Security, Fire, Climate. One of the biggest boo-boos with those things is climate control. That would most apply to those in basements or humid areas or exposed to moisture from concrete floors, etc. If you build one make sure about the humidity/temperature/condensation thing. Not much use in securing a rusty gun

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Anyone have a walk-in vault/safe room/gun safe that they've built into their house? I dont think it would be too terribly hard to incorporate this into an unfinished basement or something of that nature......
    That is exactly what I did; dug out a crawl space next to living area in the basement, built a wooden floor, framed insulation area inside the block wall, wired for lights, insulated, then sheetrocked the area.

    A fireproof safe is bolted to the concrete wall inside this vault.

    I haven't installed the door to this area yet. I'm not sure what type of door to install................

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    I've got an 8 foot poured basement walls. Thinking of making the other 2 sides concrete-filled cinder blocks (and a fire-proof vault door) and then come up with a game-plan for the roof. How elaborate does the climate control have to be? Will a simple de-humidifier work or do you need some sort of air-exchange system?

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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    I've got an 8 foot poured basement walls. Thinking of making the other 2 sides concrete-filled cinder blocks (and a fire-proof vault door) and then come up with a game-plan for the roof. How elaborate does the climate control have to be? Will a simple de-humidifier work or do you need some sort of air-exchange system?
    Electric strip heater has worked for me and many others. I don't know anyone that has ventilation in their walk-ins, but that doesn't mean that it's wrong. I knew and know a fellow that has a single 75 watt light bulb that he keeps on until he replaces the burned out bulb. He has no problems with his.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    ....How elaborate does the climate control have to be? Will a simple de-humidifier work or do you need some sort of air-exchange system?
    I have no climate control system at all in my "vault" or in my safe. I was concerned about it from the start and watched for signs of moisture problems, but after nearly 20 years, there has been no sign of trouble yet.

  9. #9

    Default Ventilation

    Mine sets 10 foot off any outside wall and is ambient temp of the house. The air which enters the safe is processed by the central system and as such my firearms stay pretty much the same temperature I do.
    Sometimes in the winter when I burn the propane heater and the wife dries clothes at the same time the house starts to feel humid the house dehumidifier will begin cycling.
    My walk in closet has lights and a built-in cell phone antennea; The reception in one is lousy, If you need to make a call.
    Vault doors are available from Browning and other gun safe manufacturers. If you are handy with a torch and a welder a decent door can be built in place. If you get a door that can lock automaticly when its closed, remember build a safety net in, so you can get out.
    Also, if you have a home office and need to store (important) documents, back-up discs for computers, accounting books or reciepts and some other materials. The expense of building a safe can be a tax write-off 100%; So keep your receipts !!
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default

    I would think that one of those rechargeable metal cans of desiccant would be plenty if you're down in a moist basement area. We've used them at work to keep the contents of an unheated conex dry and they seem to work very well as long as you keep up with recharging them periodically.

    One thought on basement safes is related to fires. If you want the contents of the safe to withstand a fully engulfed house fire, you need to take into consideration water flooding and overhead loads. The fire dept will easily dump 10,000 gallons of water into a typical residence. It all ends up in the basement where you may have over a foot of standing water when all is done. Make sure you establish a "high water" line of about 18" in your vault and don't store anything below that point. You might consider putting down a thick cement slab to start with that elevates the whole vault a bit.

    If the house burns, it's also going to fall down. The vault structure needs to be able to hold up the weight of all the house material above it when it comes crashing down. If there is a collapse, all the material that lands on top of your vault will be on fire and will burn for hours in the newly created crevices between all your wood framing. Unless you are using solid concrete walls (or filled block), seriously consider encasing the outer shell of your safe or vault with two layers of sheet rock offsetting the joints and cover that with a shell of at least 3/4" plywood (not OSB) to protect the sheetrock from collapse damage. The fire can chew on that for a very long time and not get inside before the fire dept gets a handle on things.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    .......One thought on basement safes is related to fires. If you want the contents of the safe to withstand a fully engulfed house fire, you need to take into consideration water flooding and overhead loads. The fire dept will easily dump 10,000 gallons of water into a typical residence. It all ends up in the basement where you may have over a foot of standing water when all is done. Make sure you establish a "high water" line of about 18" in your vault and don't store anything below that point.....
    That's an excellent point that I didn't consider. Thanks for the good advice.

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    Default My Gun Vault

    When we had our new house built 8 years ago I incorporated a gun vault into my downstairs gunshop. I put it in a corner that already had two sides that were poured concrete, and 10' high. I had the contractor pour the other two walls. For the ceiling they placed a piece of sheet steel at the 8' high level and then dod a concrete pour on top of that. Because I was the electrician on the job, I made sure to get a wire for the light up into the ceiling before the concrete was poured.

    For the reasons mentioned below, regarding fire, I lined the outside, and top, with two layers of 5/8" sheetrock. I lined the inside with 3/4" plywood, and stapled and glued carpet to the walls and floor (in case a gun were dropped or were to fall over. On one wall I put two lateral file cabinets, and shelves above--the file cabinets to hold important papers etc., and the shelves are for old photo albums, and gunstock wood. The other two walls each have two rows of rifle racks.

    For the door I ordered a vault door from Smith Security Safes, Inc (www.smithsecuritysafes.com), in Ohio. They trucked it to Seattle and then a barge to Anchorage, and truck to Fairbanks. If I recall, the shipping wasn't terrible.

    I didn't install any climate control and have not experienced any issues with hot, cold, or moisture.

    I would definately do it again. I did make one mistake however--I didn't make it big enough!

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Riflemaker, what are the dimensions of your vault? I dont imagine I would need something as large as you if you are making rifles, but I'm thinking of anywhere in the neighborhood of 10-12x5-6 feet...

  14. #14

    Default LYE

    Just remember this important fact that noone else has mentioned. IF, you have a house fire and the fire department responds and controls the burn with water, you have less than 24 hours to retreive and clean your firearms from the safe. The water used to supress a house fire mixes with wood ash and forms caustic lye (granny used to use wood ash to make soap) smoke. This smoke can penetrate nearly any safe fire seal and will condense on cooler barrel surfaces as lye water droplets damaging or destroying the rifle finish and even eating aluminum alloy parts.
    The sooner the safe contents are cleaned and oiled will minimize damage.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

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    very interesting thread with lots of good info. Thanks guys.

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    Default My Vault and some Fire Experience

    Mine is about 10' x10', with an 8' cieling.

    The comments regarding fire on spot on. My folks had a house fire about 25 years ago, and Dad's guns were in a "fire safe". The safe actually did pretty well, but when the fire department got there the place was pretty well engulfed. It was a small single story place, so didn't take very long to collapse. When the cold water from the fire hoses hit the hot gun safe, the door immediately "warped", opening about a quarter inch at the top, which let in hot air and water, etc.

    We had heard about the damage from ash and water, so within the next few hours we bought 30 gallons of oil and put it in an old bathtub. We pulled the stocks off the rifles whose stocks were not scorched, and then dumped all of them in the oil, until we had time to deal with them.

    Needless to say, when that time came, it was a real chore, as the metal was now coated with soot, and carbon and now messy black oil. However, nearly 100% of the guns were salvagable are now back in service.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    One more thing about the fire dept's surround and drown operations... as most house fires occur in the winter, you'll need to be sure and get the door open and remove the contents of the safe as soon as possible and before all that water freezes. If you are ever in this situation, once it looks like the fire is pretty much out, find the chief or incident commander from the fire department and tell him about the vault and valuables. The fire dept is there for salvage operations as much as they are for putting the fire out. They can clear a path to the vault and probably even pack your stuff out for you.
    Winter is Coming...

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Our department will do everything within our power (and safety) to help you salvage any belongings, not just guns. Most of our crew are hunters so we understand

    Look for the guys in the red or white helmets. Tell them, without getting in the way, that there is a vault in the basement. If the house is a total loss the department can focus efforts on keeping this area cool. A vault, surrounded by burning coals, is just a big dutch oven. The better it is cooled the better your guns are going to survive.

    My recommendation, if you are going to build a vault in new construction, is to build it outside from being directly under the main structure of the house, but accessed from the basement.

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    Thumbs up Safe Room

    Great posts, I've learned a couple of things. If you are building a safe room think about all the debris that will fall and potentially block the door, leaving you and your family stuck inside. Perhaps the door should open inward. Also fire rated sheetrock is readily available now.
    Sorry to revive an old but excellent thread.

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