Cellar Excursions

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Cellar Excursions

Postby CraigW » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:51 am

Well, took advice from this board and bought "How and Why to Build a Wine Cellar, vol. 3" as well as a max/min recording thermometer and hygrometer.

That book is pretty deep into geography and physics, but what a resource! I'm enjoying the whole thing and the depth at which he explains his arguments makes his conclusions compelling to say the least.

That said, I'm still debating whether or not to get a contained cabinet like a Vintage Keeper, or build a cellar. I might do both and keep the collection safe within the fridge until I get around to building a passive cellar.

On a positive note, I installed my thermometer device in the unfinished basement of my new house (despite the fact I haven't taken possession yet) and low and behold, the temp down there yesterday (it was 26 C degrees outside) was a wonderful 16.6 C degrees and an astonishing 70% humidity! I'm a bit skeptical though, because I fear the new concrete in the basement hasn't yet finished drying out and may still be emitting moisture. It was only poured two months ago. That said, I am excited to see what the max and mins are over the next few days.

One problem I have noted though, is that while my basement is considered 'unfinished', the builder did take the liberty of framing and insulating (modestly by cellar standards) the exterior concrete walls, so I won't be able to install a vapor barrier or polystyrene without ripping down the existing work.

We'll see - I only foresee being in this house for 8-15 years at this point, so maybe committing to a cellar that I will eventually have to give up is a silly idea.
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Re: Cellar Excursions

Postby John Treder » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:58 pm

I'd say a passive cellar would be something well worth installing -- you'll be able to enjoy it for a decade or more, and it won't hurt resale value of the house.
And a passive cellar is more economical on your electric bill!

The temperature controlled cabinets are quick to install, but they do use electricity.

I wish I had a house with a cellar!
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Re: Cellar Excursions

Postby Paul Savage » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:00 pm


As you probably have read in Gold's book, the underground temperature tends to be at the annual average for your area. Ane the deeper one goes, to a reasonable depth, the closer it is to that average, and the more constant it is. I would guess that you would be in pretty good shape there in Canada?

The other thing to do is to shade the ground around your house, with shrubs, trees, etc. Even grass is a good thing. Rocks, or something like an asphalt driveway, will conduct heat into the ground, and possibly into your cellar, if it is close to a basement wall. So, ideally, a passive cellar is best on the North side of the cellar, but not absolutely necessary, depending on what sort of summer sunshine and heat the South side is likely to get.

It should be easy to insulate an area in your basement for a good passive cellar. I haven't completed insulating a space in my cellar yet, but the 1st floor is air-conditioned and it is a forced air system with ductwork in the cellar which tends to cool off that area too when it runs. Then too, I have a large tree on the South side of the house that provides shade in the late morning and afternoon. Last year, in late August, when the underground temperatures tend to peak, the cellar got up to 68F at eye level, and only 64F at ground level. And I wasn't running the A/C very much, except during the late afternoon.

So wait till you move in and the locate a space that isn't near a source of "heat ingress", like a driveway, or large rocks outside, etc. You should be fine! ...Paul
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