Rainy Day Root Cellars in Castle Rock, Colorado offers a variety of sizes of root and combination storage cellars using pre-cast concrete components. I had the chance to inspect one of their installed cellars, and I was quite impressed. Their rugged designs are optimized for safe food and water storage, self-sufficiency, security and other ‘backyard’ or remote site access. In addition to food and water storage, these shelters provide excellent climate-controlled safe-keeping for important papers and sensitive files, firearms, ammunition, batteries, emergency medical supplies, and much more. Standard sizes range from 8′ x 8′ Single Room to 8′ x 24′ Three Room.
Uses and Advantages
The backfill depth of a typical cellar installation minimizes threat from fire, tornados or other strong storms. This depth also provides smaller annual temperature swings than those typical of basements, garages or attics. A typical year-round temperature range for the prescribed installation of a Rainy Day Root Cellar is 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (Depending on your latitude.) Grains, canned goods, water, medicines, gunpowder and ammunition all store well in a 33 to 70 degree range environment. In addition to an ideal temperature, these root cellars provide optimum sealed, dry and dark conditions without dependence on power. A year’s food storage for a family of four may cost around $15,000, which warrants an appropriate investment in a suitable enclosure to prevent or minimize shortened shelf-life, pillage from vermin or other intrusions.
The Rainy Day web site touts their enclosures as a “safety deposit box” in your backyard. Their heavy duty steel exterior cellar doors provide the first line of defense. At the bottom of the thick tread wooden staircase, the cast-in-place steel opening frames a second lockable steel door for excellent security. Ceiling, floor and walls are all reinforced concrete with all seams waterproof sealed inside and out. Pipe penetrations (typically two 4″ vents) are also sealed inside and out. These can be fitted with forced-air HEPA air filters, to make you cellar double as a fallout shelter. Each room has an adjustable air intake vent, allowing independent temperature control. For models with two or more rooms, a room can be kept warmer or cooler than the others by adjusting the air intake vents. American made, cast aluminum, self-cleaning Lawler Manufacturing blast gates regulate temperature and air exchange. Turn the non-glued, screened intake ninety-degree fitting in the direction of the prevailing wind to adjust air intake. During extreme below zero conditions, a supplied cap over the air intake (in lieu of the ninety) keeps the temperature at desired minimums.
Rainy Day pre-engineers and designs all root cellars to customer specifications, including individual excavation plans tailored to each location. If desired, they will find a local excavation contractor to further reduce the involvement required from the buyer. In either case, they supply a custom excavation plan to provide a secure, level foundation. They work with a nationwide firm that has numerous concrete pre-cast concrete facilities around the country, which optimizes delivery of primary components and scheduling of on-site work. Delivery is often less than four weeks after receipt of deposit. They also provide other pour-in-place options (less preferable) if the site (e.g. too tight for crane access) or other considerations warrant an alternative to pre-cast components. After assembly, sealing, lock installation and testing, the Rainy Day staff can then install any optional items such as shelving or water tanks. Soil backfilling can be performed by the Rainy Day staff, a local contractor, or the owner. Grass seed and bushes are suggested to hide the protruding stand pipes, the tops of which should be unobstructed and above the anticipated high snow levels of the local elevation. Completion time from crew arrival on the excavated site to key hand-off is a maximum of two days.
Standard lengths for single room 8′ wide root cellars include 8′, 10′, 12′ 14′ and 16′. Standard lengths for double room 8′ wide root cellars include 20′, 22′ and 24′. There is a 24′ long 3-room standard option, with other custom configurations available. For hillside installations, wing walls (for sloped ground retention) can replace the stairwell. Interior options include custom wooden shelves, pre-made steel shelves, specialized food storage units (such as ShelfReliance shelving), or owner provided storage units. Rainy Day Root Cellars recommends either 225 gallon or 525 gallon 2-valve top-filled water tank options. The valve two feet above the floor is optimal for bucket filling, while the bottom valve is for periodic draining. Battery-powered lights or solar lights are lighting options they can provide. Rainy Day staff recommends acquiring two or more D-cell powered LED lanterns which can be suspended on their supplied ceiling hooks.
Rainy Day Root Cellars’ web site provides more details and photos. They can be reached at: 303-660-6461.
- L.K.O. (SurvivalBlog’s Central Rockies Regional Editor)