Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

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Robert M yers
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Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#1 Post by Robert M yers » August 10th, 2019, 9:27 pm

I currently have 3 stand up units in my basement and really don’t want to buy a 4th! So I’m looking at how I can better insulate this room to possibly reduce temps on the hottest days. Ive been monitoring the temps all summer and at extreme heat (mid 90’s) outside the room gets to about 62. When it’s just hot (80’s) it’s sits at 58-59. The winter should bring temps down to upper 40’s in extreme cold but mostly low 50’s.

The house is 100 yr old and the back wall and behind the left wall it’s visible exposed dirt. To the right which you can’t see is a window which I think was a coal chute, So only 4/5 is below ground on that side. Another issue could be humidity as the lows seem to be about 70% reaching low 80’s when it’s humid outside.

Any thoughts on how I can make this space a little more resistant to heat. Would it be worth enclosing with a door and foam insulating it or something. I suppose I could stick some kind of a unit in the window if necessary as well? Any thoughts on how to make something like this more usable for long term storage?
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#2 Post by Nathan Smyth » August 10th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Robert M yers wrote:
August 10th, 2019, 9:27 pm
...winter should bring temps down to upper 40’s in extreme cold but mostly low 50’s...

...When it’s just hot (80’s) it’s sits at 58-59...

...at extreme heat (mid 90’s) outside the room gets to about 62...
What in the world are you worried about?

When Francois Audouze opens an 1870 Lafite, how do you think the bottle spent the first three decades of its life, waiting patiently for Willis Haviland Carrier to finally invent air-conditioning in 1902?

And Carrier didn't even go commercial with the idea until about 1915.

Your space is totally ready to hold wine as is.

If you want to throw in some fancy woodworking & lighting, then get Thee to Lowes.

Otherwise, just start stacking cases on the floor [the floor temperature will always be cooler than the ceiling temperature, so unless you're anticipating a flood, your best wines are always stored as low as possible].

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#3 Post by Alan Rath » August 10th, 2019, 10:53 pm

Yeah, just do it. I’d kill Jeffrey Epstein to have that cellar. My only concern would be those air ducts that are running through the room, I assume they carry heat during the winter. You probably want to insulate them quite well.
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#4 Post by Robert M yers » August 11th, 2019, 2:44 am

I was thinking I didn’t like the 62 when it got super hot, although I’m probably over reacting. That’s what I would tell someone too. I set my units to 53 so I have to get over that mentality I guess. I can tell myself The sub 55 temps in the winter should balance it.

I don’t want it to be fancy at all, never going to drink wine there or anything. I would like to find a way to store more efficiently than the styrofoam though as it’s so dirty and Humid that the labels will never make it in racking. I shudder at the thought of wrapping every one in Saran Wrap, would that even work?

It’s a good thought about insulating the ducts, but winter is not a problem, like I mentioned it will dip into 40’s. Probably the fact that there is some exposure to elements above ground is hurting my consistency of temps. It’s ancient thin glass, I could glass block it or just spray foam the ceiling and window to get more consistency possibly? Also two rooms behind where I’m standing when I took the picture the room is 80% above ground, so the elements flow back there to some degree as well. Might help just hanging a blanket or something in the summer over the entrance to block heat coming from that way.

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#5 Post by Kirk.Grant » August 11th, 2019, 5:38 am

Robert M yers wrote:
August 11th, 2019, 2:44 am
I was thinking I didn’t like the 62 when it got super hot, although I’m probably over reacting. That’s what I would tell someone too. I set my units to 53 so I have to get over that mentality I guess. I can tell myself The sub 55 temps in the winter should balance it.

I don’t want it to be fancy at all, never going to drink wine there or anything. I would like to find a way to store more efficiently than the styrofoam though as it’s so dirty and Humid that the labels will never make it in racking. I shudder at the thought of wrapping every one in Saran Wrap, would that even work?

It’s a good thought about insulating the ducts, but winter is not a problem, like I mentioned it will dip into 40’s. Probably the fact that there is some exposure to elements above ground is hurting my consistency of temps. It’s ancient thin glass, I could glass block it or just spray foam the ceiling and window to get more consistency possibly? Also two rooms behind where I’m standing when I took the picture the room is 80% above ground, so the elements flow back there to some degree as well. Might help just hanging a blanket or something in the summer over the entrance to block heat coming from that way.
Robert,

I've aged my wines in a "natural cellar" at my friend's house for the better part of the last 5 years with no noticeable difference in the impact on wines. Maybe this temperature swing means you get 25 years out of a wine instead of 30 or 12 instead of 15. In the end, I'd be more than happy with a space like that. If you're really worried there are things you can do to build out and increase the insulation which would reduce the temp swings still.
Cellartracker:Kirk Grant

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#6 Post by Mark Golodetz » August 11th, 2019, 6:01 am

When I first got interested in wine in the mid eighties, I became part of a wine group where people had been collecting for years. Most of the cellars were passive, with the same temperature fluctuation you mention. There, wines had been stored from the fifties and sixties on. The labels were often poor, as humidity was high, but the fills were good, and the wines unbelievably good. Wine has plenty of enemies, but I would never worry about your passive cellar; keep humidity high, and you can have wines that will last.
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#7 Post by George Hejna » August 11th, 2019, 8:24 am

You have a lot of HVAC in there which would need some attention depending on what it is. Do the round ducts run outside? That seems odd, maybe I am just looking at it incorrectly.
I think as others have said it is pretty close to being able to hold wine as is. I would make sure to monitor temps throughout the cellar floor to ceiling first.

Do you have any flooding risk? Would want to keep that in mind if storing on the floor.

It would also be relatively easy to frame out the entire room with proper insulation and a vapor barrier to keep temps more stable. You could easily add a small in wall cooling unit also if you wanted to control humidity/temp more.

Good thing is you have lots of options.

George

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#8 Post by Anton D » August 11th, 2019, 9:00 am

Keep it passive, concentrate on how you want it to look!
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#9 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 11th, 2019, 9:39 am

Wow, would love to have a basement with those temperatures. I’d not worry one bit. Everything in FL needs heavy conditioning.

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#10 Post by Robert M yers » August 11th, 2019, 10:48 am

Thanks for the input assurances on the temps. I think with some basic insulation it should be even better.

George, I’m not sure what the two round ducts are honestly. We have a geothermal system, I’ll have to investigate a bit further. We do live about 30 feet from a river so flooding is always possible. I think I could get most out and upstairs though if it was threatening.

The good news is I have another room twice as big with the same temps on the other side of the house. So if I get this figured out space should no longer be a problem. Never thought having a dirt basement would pay off...

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#11 Post by Chris Seiber » August 11th, 2019, 11:38 am

Zero worries about those temps. Just finish it out the way you want.

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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#12 Post by dsimmons » August 11th, 2019, 12:24 pm

I've had a passive cellar in my crawl space for almost 25 years. The temps vary form 53 to 65 (rarely). It has performed well and I have some bottles that have been stored for over 20 years.
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#13 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 11th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Robert M yers wrote:
August 11th, 2019, 2:44 am
I was thinking I didn’t like the 62 when it got super hot, although I’m probably over reacting. That’s what I would tell someone too. I set my units to 53 so I have to get over that mentality I guess. I can tell myself The sub 55 temps in the winter should balance it.

I don’t want it to be fancy at all, never going to drink wine there or anything. I would like to find a way to store more efficiently than the styrofoam though as it’s so dirty and Humid that the labels will never make it in racking. I shudder at the thought of wrapping every one in Saran Wrap, would that even work?

It’s a good thought about insulating the ducts, but winter is not a problem, like I mentioned it will dip into 40’s. Probably the fact that there is some exposure to elements above ground is hurting my consistency of temps. It’s ancient thin glass, I could glass block it or just spray foam the ceiling and window to get more consistency possibly? Also two rooms behind where I’m standing when I took the picture the room is 80% above ground, so the elements flow back there to some degree as well. Might help just hanging a blanket or something in the summer over the entrance to block heat coming from that way.
Nah bruh 62 is absolutely fine. I would not hesitate for a minute
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#14 Post by GregT » August 11th, 2019, 1:21 pm

Just find out whether those ducts are cold air return or heat or something else. If they're for heat, then you may want to insulate those, although I tend to agree with everyone else here that you have a really nice situation.

But if you want to insulate a little bit, I'd just get some 3" extruded foam board and use that. It's a vapor barrier itself. Don't put things directly on the floor - that's easy enough to deal with by putting some shims under a board and then put your stuff in there. You can get some simple shelving units or make your own quite easily. What I did in a similar situation was I bought a few plastic 1x3s and cut them up. Then I laid a plastic 1x12 on that and it kept my stuff off the floor and I didn't have to worry about mold, etc.

You have a great space.
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Re: Thoughts on making this Crude Basement space a cellar

#15 Post by George Hejna » August 11th, 2019, 1:30 pm

I think you should be concerned about humidity and mold if it is dirt floor. My parents house which is slightly older than yours has a dirt floor. I stored some wine there for a while and even though the room the wine was in had a wood sub floor most of the labels were trashed. Some even fell off or were completely unreadable. This is in NW IL so climate would be similar.

George

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