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I live in Southwestern Ontario (seasonal temps of around -5°c in the winter, around 30°c in the summer) and I would like to build a cold room in my basement.

The basement is unfinished with poured concrete walls, concrete floor and standard North American layout joists (18" apart) in the ceiling.

I will be framing with some insulation, and plan to use foam board to cover the ceiling.

My question is regarding the ventilation: My research shows that I should have two vents, one pulling cool air from the outside running down to around floor level, and one vent to the outside for warmer air to leave.

This makes perfect sense in the winter, however in the summer this would lead to warm air (around 30°c) being pulled into the cold room.

Is there a solution to this besides using some kind of a/c unit?

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It really depends on what you want to store in it. If you are storing dry goods and don't need fresh air you would close of the damper in the summer. You can also control the temperature in the winter with a computer fan connected to a thermostat. If you are planning on curing meat, it's a lot more tricky.

Lowering the temperature in the summer depends on where the cold room is. If it's under the veranda keep it shaded and on extremely hot days soak it with water on top. As the water evaporates it will have a cooling effect on the concrete slab. It's effective and old Italian men sware by it. I've set up a couple passive meat curing cold rooms but it takes a lot of tinkering to keep a passive system within peramaters.

You could try this

I know a guy who ran the cold water from his water meter into his cold room based on me making a joke and he did it anyway and says it worked. He just hung a coil of copper and plumbed the cold in one side and out the other back to the original connection. It went somewhat like this enter image description here Sorry for the crude drawing

I'm from Toronto so I know the temperature swings season to season all to well, and plus I'm an HVAC tech.

  • Wow! This is a pretty detailed and informative answer, so I'm definitely marking as the answer. I think the idea here is to turn the entire cold room into a giant a/c unit? lol.. I'm not sure I'll take this approach, but it gives me a pretty good idea of the challenges and possible approaches.. thank you. – Toby Mar 7 at 1:40
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    I could go on for hours about the topic and possible solutions I recently designed a 12 x 15' meat curing chamber. You need to control temperature and humidity very precisely. It was a fun challenge. – Joe Fala Mar 7 at 2:00
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    If you know any old school Europeans they are a wealth of information about passive conditioning. – Joe Fala Mar 7 at 2:02
  • Actually, since I'm 41 and spent the first 25 yrs of my life living in the UK, I consider myself an old school European.. lol. But I know what you mean - the mediterranean lifestyle was very much about DIY foods and meats. Thanks again. :) – Toby Mar 7 at 2:07
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    Lol I didn't want to flat out say Italian's because many other cultures do the cantina thing too. Croatian's, Portuguese and I'm sure many others do it too. – Joe Fala Mar 7 at 2:15

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