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Basements with (n) Walls versus Root Cellar, Bombshelter, Bunker  RSS feed

 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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If one is building on an unimproved rural lot which will require a septic tank and leach field, a cistern and deep foundation, why not build a multipurpose room below grade rather than several seprate holes?
(No, I am not thinking of keeping the septic tank in the basement - it just is another requisite hole).

I do have a bit of a clue as to why four sealed walls with a concrete floor isn't such a grand idea.
Although the basements of my youth never seemed to presnt any problems while I lived at those locations - that style of basement isn't looked upon kindly in these here forums.
Aside from location, soil, weather, grade and proper drainage as considerations for a specific location - if one needed some form of below grade room - what are some reasonable comprimises?

Since my house will be a hexagon - I will extrapolate that a 7 sided bowl is equally unacceptable.
Having a dirt floor doesn't make the six sides any less fortified against the sealed wall argument that a basement is a money pit.

What has been said several times in these forums is that the below grade room should be fully walk-out capable.

I have not yet learned how to can goods, but my understanding of a good root cellar is that it helps to maintain the freshness of - roots - carrots, patatoes, and the like, as well as a great place for storing home canned goods.
As I understand it, the Pueblo Indians aparently stored their grain in a some form of root cellar like system as well, but I don't know if it was at all subteranian.

So, how much of the doored wall needs to be exposed to air to signifiacantly reduce the objections to basements (or hole in the ground by any other name)?
Does the door to walk out of need to be at grade?
Or can it be like the Kansas farmhouse with a ~45 degree door along the outside of the house with steps up to grade to the outside qualify as fully walk-out capable basement?
That is - what exactly should a "fully walk-out" critera mean to me and how could one impliment it using minimal acreage other than what the house is actually sitting on anyway?

A below grade space can be used as a workshop, recreation zone, excercise area, laundry room, utility or MEP center as well.
It might be a great place for making beer and wine and storing that too.
These are some of the uses I am familiar with and learning that basements are the bain of craftsmen saddens me.

What are some better methods to meet these desires loosly adhearing to permaculture ideals and maintaining a reduced footprint?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 2990
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Basements are very practical where I live, just not easy to dig into stony soil with a deeper clay base over the bed rock.
My town (Vilonia, AR.) has been hit by tornadoes, the last one was in April of 2014, six people were killed as a result of them being where tornado shelters were not.

We have plans to dig a combination root cellar/ storm shelter/ ham curing room/ cheese curing room. It will be sunk into the bed rock and have a north facing entrance/exit which will have two doors in an air lock configuration.
I have determined that we will need four air pipes of 4 inch to 6 inch diameter for humidity regulation and air circulation. The main room will be large enough for a years supply of food storage, two dogs, our hogs and us.
I have measured the required amount of space and the interior will measure 10' x 14'.
The ham and cheese rooms will be more like alcoves to the main cellar space, and these will need 3 to 4 inch air circulation pipes instead of the larger ones of the main cellar room.
The curing alcoves will be excavated so they are from opposite walls and not directly in line with each other.


In a root cellar, you need a floor that will not hold water but rather let it drain away while still helping keep the humidity at the proper range, like wise for ham and cheese curing.
This usually means that you are going to have to limit natural influx of water, especially in our hot/humid climate in Arkansas.

Our entrance/exit will be lower than the actual ground surface due to the slope of the land.
There will be two doors separated by a short hallway for extra protection the hallway will be underground
It will be located where there is no immediate danger of trees falling and blocking this doorway and it will be close to the actual house for quick cover.

Four sealed walls and a floor are not bad, you just have to make sure you have proper ventilation in place so you don't create a rainforest environment that will encourage mold and mildew growth.
I consider it very permaculture to ensure you can survive any disaster that comes your way.

The Pueblo Indians used graineries not cellars to store their grain, these were adobe and only in the shade not underground.
They stored the produce, like squashes, in rooms that were back in the deep part of their homes, which were built into the cliffs.

Most root cellars have only the doorway exposed and it faces north in the northern hemisphere so there is less light hitting it.
Some are constructed with a tunnel-like entry to further protect against light (solar heat) striking the entryway.
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Bryant RedHawk -

Thanks for your input. It brought up a link regarding Root Cellar Ventilation - which I will check out to see if it answers the question: How did you figure out how much ventilation you needed (and is it filtered or powered ventilation?).
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I calculated air turn over for the volume of the space with passive air flow (we are on a ridge and have wind most of the time).
I am going to be installing cleanable filters in the inflow tubes.

I am going to dig out all the dirt, down to the bedrock and reserve that to use as the cap over the protruding portion of the cellar, then grass seed and veggies will be planted to stop erosion of that soil.
Since I will have to literally carve out the room, all I will need construction materials wise is mortar, sealant, 4x4's, heavy gauge metal roofing and a rubber membrane over that to keep moisture from leaking in anywhere.
I am going to use C60 PVC pipe and fittings for the vents and filter boxes will be fabricated, probably of metal or wood or a combination. I've been working on this design for about two years, trying to get it right on the money.
 
Rojer Wisner
Posts: 44
Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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@Bryant RedHawk - Excellent. Good luck. I wouldn't mind seeing a pic or two of the construction and finished product.

Although I' not ready yet - I hope to be in such a situation in under 5 years. For now: I am bound by the J.ust O.ver B.roke and waiting for my kid to graduate from HS., so that I can move to a fresh plot of land and build my home.
 
Tobias Ber
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Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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what you would need to consider is that much humidity in cellars comes from the outside through air. venting cellars is mostly "against the logic of how/when you would vent a normal house". like counter-intuitive.

warm air will carry more water without condensation. when warm air from the outside (with water stored in it) will hit the cold walls of the cellar it will cool down. then the air would not be able to carry the water and that will cause condensation.

this will often happen in summers. it s important to vent cellars when the air is cold and dry (there are scientific tables of how much water the air will carry at a given temperature). to have cob or lime plaster would help to buffer peak mounts of air humidity. cob will do well in absorbing and shedding water from the air but it might get moldy.

and it would be good to monitor air humidity and temperature. best would be to monitor it inside and outside. in our flat we have a device with an indoor and outdoor sensor. these come quite cheap.
i am sure that there are optimal levels of humidity and temperatur for storing veggies and for curing meat and cheese.


please take this into consideration. i think that GOOD cellars are great. but i am not sure if they re easy to build without concrete.
 
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