Cold room 'fridge'


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Old 04-23-08, 02:12 PM
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Cold room 'fridge'

Hi, We have a cold room under our front porch - maybe 8' x 10', concrete walls, steel door to the basement, couple of open vents high up on one wall.

Currently it gets too cold in the winter, and too hot in the summer. Plus I understand mold is a big problem with such rooms. So it's not really functional right now.

I'm wondering if its possible to essentially turn it into a walk-in 'fridge'. So I want the temperature to be much better controlled, and the mold prevented (as much as possible).

My thoughts are to put up vapor barrier and insulation, and probably a ceiling fan. But I have no experience with this, so could be way off ...

And ideas on how I should go about this?

Thanks,
Glen.
 
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Old 04-23-08, 03:42 PM
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Thumbs up Hello Glen.........Welcome to our forums!

What makes a traditional cold room work is the close contact the walls of the room have with the supposedly stable temperature of the ground.
The problem with yours is that it is not deep enough into the ground.

A way you might be able to stabilize the temperature is to insulate the entire room but only the top half up to a depth of about four feet below the surface of the ground.
Leave the bottom half of the room and floor uninsulated.

If after doing this the temperature is not what you want then natural cooling is not in the cards.

To turn this space into a walk in cooler you would need to insulate the room and properly install a vapor barrier and use mechanical cooling to lower the temperature.

The mechanical cooling would pretty much have to be a refrigeration unit designed for this purpose.
There are some who as a hobby endevour try to use a small a/c unit for the mechanical cooling but they experience very mixed results.

The mold is very hard to comment on with the limited info we have.
One thing that might help is an oscillating fan continuously circulating the sir.

If you want to post some pics of the room on a site like Photobucket and provide a link we could take a look.
 
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Old 04-23-08, 05:20 PM
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Thanks Greg, I don't think insulating the top half will work, seeing as 4 feet below ground puts me about half a foot above the floor!

So I guess I'm insulating the whole wall anyway. Do I want the 'normal' basement wall type framing and insulating? Or something else?

And it sounds like I'll need a refrigeration unit regardless. Where would I find something like that? Or what sort of price range I'd be looking at? Not sure where I'd even start looking - I tried searching 'refrigeration unit' at home depot, and it just gave me fridges!

I've put some pictures up on Shutterfly if want to look here. Let me know if there's anything in particular you want a more detailed shot of.

As for mold, I haven't had any problems yet ... but I want to make sure it doesn't become one! If I end up with a refrigeration unit though, I imagine that would take care of circulating and dehumidifying the air.

Glen.
 
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Old 04-23-08, 05:50 PM
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All refrigerated rooms will have three inches of closed cell spray foam then a aluminum cover. As far as the refrigeration unit goes I have been out of it for a long time Id look at about 4 grand plus install then you still have to have a door.
 
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Old 04-23-08, 05:57 PM
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Unless you're a "survivalist" I think you are looking at a money pit.

You would need to ENTIRELY seal and insulate the room. I would use nothing less than four inch (or more) thick polyisocyanurate foil-faced insulation and seal all seams with foil tape. This would then need to be covered with "something" to both retard any fire and to protect both the foil vapor retardant and the insulation itself from damage. Sheet metal is the time-honored material but maybe you could use the non-paper gypsum board. I don't off hand have any suggestion on how to secure this facing to the insulation.

Of course you would also have to have a door with full sealing capabilities and an equal R-value to the walls, ceiling and floor.

For a cost estimate try calling someone that builds walk-in coolers and I think you will quickly abandon this idea of using the room with mechanical refrigeration.

On the other hand, just insulating the walls and ceiling and installing a solid core door along with a refrigeration unit especially made for the purpose would make it into a dandy wine cellar.
 
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Old 04-24-08, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for the input. This actually started with looking to buy an actual fridge ... then thought maybe I'd be better off putting the money towards making the cold room more functional. (Spend a little more money ... get over 10X the capacity ...).

So that's where I'm coming from. 4 grand for a proper refrigeration unit is a bit out of my price range, and that's not even including the insulation. So making the room into a proper 'fridge' is obviously out.

Some more background - in the winter, we've had things freeze, but just leaving the light on has generated enough heat (so far ...) to prevent that. Summer's more of an issue, as it can get up to around 10-15 C (50-60 F) in there.

If I insulate the walls (just the normal stuff), how would that affect the temperature? i.e: Would it prevent freezing in the winter, or just slow it down? Would it even help in the summer, or will it actually make it warmer (since most of the concrete would be covered)? Or are these questions I can only answer by trying it out?

Greg had mentioned 'mixed results' with an AC unit - what are the issues with going that route? Does it just not make it cold enough?

In other words ... is it worth doing this the cheap way, or would I just be wasting my money?
 
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Old 04-24-08, 02:46 PM
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Using an a/c unit would be a total waste of money.
It is possible to rig controls to make an a/c unit go somewhat close to refrigerator temperatures but you would have all kinds of grief with coil freeze-up not to mention it being a major energy hog.

Your best bet for keeping that space a bit cooler that the rest of the house is to insulate the top half ...............or, finish the room with insulation and flooring and put one or more fridges in there.
 
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Old 04-25-08, 12:41 PM
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OK, I'll definitely forget about an AC unit.

I'm leaning towards just insulating the top half (for however much of a benefit that gives). I can still use the room to store some things (like potatoes and onions) that don't need it too cold. Then put a fridge in for the rest.

Is there a reason you said to insulate the entire room before putting a fridge in though? I would've thought some natural cooling would just make the fridge more efficient ...
 
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Old 04-25-08, 02:46 PM
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My comment to insulate the whole room was more to suggest that you finish this area just as any another room in the house.

I didn't mention that you should do away with the vents.
These will over cool in the winter and raise the humidity and temperature in the summer.

Try to insulate to at least ground level.
 
 

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