Do Cellars Need Ventilation? [Including Wine & Root Cellars]

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Cellars are a fantastic addition to your home as they provide extra storage space. Cellars can also be renovated to provide additional living rooms. But do these spaces need ventilation? We looked to the experts and share our findings here.

Cellars need ventilation to maintain good quality air and control the level of humidity. Ventilation also inhibits the growth of molds since satisfactory airflow minimizes moisture and dries the wet areas in your home faster. Although opening windows allows fresh outdoor air inside, you should not open the basement windows when it's hot since this will lead to condensation on the basement walls. However, you may open the windows at night or early morning to ensure cool air circulates the cellar.

Now that you know cellars need ventilation, keep reading to determine how to ventilate a cellar, whether you should leave your basement windows open and whether ventilation prevents molds.

Room with dark dining furniture and wine filled shelves, Do Cellars Need Ventilation? [Including Wine & Root Cellars]

How do you ventilate a cellar?

You may ventilate your cellar by using either mechanical, portable, or natural methods. Depending on the local building codes, the regulations governing ventilating a cellar may vary from region to region. However, there are some basic approaches.

Mechanical ventilation

Male placing a paper cover over part of an air return intake vent to increase air return in another vent in the home..

Mechanical ventilation uses fans and exhausts to draw in the fresh air and eliminate polluted air from your cellar.

You can achieve mechanical ventilation by:

  • Placing small window fans in opposite windows so that the air inside is pushed out.
  • Installing an exhaust fan which sucks out air in the cellar and pumps it out through the ventilation pipe.
  • Pumping indoor air outside by using an exhaust hose from a portable air conditioner.

You can use mechanical ventilation throughout the year since it creates airflow rather than depends on natural airflow. However, your basement must have windows where the air conditioner or exhaust fan is installed for you to use mechanical ventilation.

Natural Ventilation

table and chair sitting on cobbled street outside pavement cafe in ebeltoft denmark

Natural ventilation creates a movement of natural air circulation. Natural ventilation requires that your cellar should have windows and doors that are easy to open.

This method works effectively when all windows are opened, allowing air to flow freely through the cellar. Additionally, the windows and doors should be on opposite sides of the room to allow the breeze to flow through the room.

Although natural ventilation saves energy, the initial costs are high since you will have to install windows and doors in your basements strategically. Moreover, this method is not effective where humidity levels are very high. Further, it is dependent on a blowing breeze to eliminate the air in your cellar.

Natural ventilation requires constant control in that you would need to open and close your openings, control how much you open the door, and determine when it is ideal for opening or closing your windows and doors.

Portable Ventilation

A hand turning on an air purifier

Portable ventilation gets the air moving in your basement by using an air purifier. It is more economical and less troublesome in comparison to mechanical ventilation and natural ventilation.

The purifier pulls air from your cellar and moves it through a series of filters, eliminating air contaminants such as dust, molds, mildew, and other microscopic particles. Clean air is then pushed back into the cellar.

Does ventilation prevent mold?

Ventilation keeps air in motion and consequently eliminates any conditions that are favorable for the growth of molds. Mold grows and thrives in areas that are warm and damp.

The constant air circulation eliminates moisture and keeps the air from getting stagnant and stale. Therefore, mold does not attach to the surface and consequently does not grow.

Should you leave basement windows open or closed in summer?

It would be best to leave the basement windows shut during the day in summer since opening the windows leads to condensation. When the moist air from outside lands on your cool basement walls, it condenses, making your basement damp and creating a conducive environment for molds and mildew to grow.

Opening the windows in summer also allows hot air to raise the temperature in your basement. Therefore, you may need to run your AC to regulate the temperatures, which may increase your energy bills.

You might opt to use a dehumidifier during the summer to regulate humidity since you will not open the windows. The dehumidifier also cools off your home and reduces your AC use. Choose a dehumidifier that auto-adjusts humidity to the desired levels.

Check out this dehumidifier on Amazon.

Should the basement windows be open or closed in winter?

It is advisable to open your basement windows in winter since the air outside is cooler than the air inside. Opening the windows eliminates stale air and minimizes the chances of developing respiratory issues associated with breathing in the damp air. The benefits of opening the windows outweigh the costs incurred by running the AC to regulate temperatures.

Read this article to discover different ways to warm up your basement.

Does a root cellar need ventilation?

root cellar

Root cellars are a reliable way to store food as they require little to no energy and very little maintenance since they use cool and moist soil conditions to keep your food fresh.

Root cellars need ventilation which reduces the chances of mold growth and eliminates ethylene gases given off by some fruits and vegetables. If ethylene gas is not expelled, it may cause other produce to spoil. Ventilation also regulates temperatures in the cellar.

Does a wine cellar need ventilation?

Modern wine vault

Wine cellars require proper ventilation with uniform air circulation to regulate temperature and humidity conditions and create a suitable aging environment for the wine. Sufficient ventilation is vital because any significant variations in temperature and humidity in the cellar can damage the wine.

The ventilation system should have an inlet and an outlet that ejects the hot air generated from the cellar and injects cool air to balance the conditions. You can achieve this by providing a few openings in the walls and the door. If possible, it is advisable not to fix the ventilation grilles facing each other to circumnavigate, creating a draft.

Moreover, because ventilation refreshes the air in your cellar, it keeps odors from developing and minimizes the risk of fungus formation. Wine is highly susceptible to strong smells as they can alter its taste.

Suitable wine cellar conditions

Wine store with wooden design

Besides ensuring that your wine cellar is adequately ventilated, you should maintain your cellar in the following ideal conditions.

Temperature

You should store red wine at temperatures between 50 °F and 54 °F and white wine at slightly lower temperatures of between 54 °F and 58 °F. Therefore, maintaining 54 °F in your cellar is ideal for the aging of both red and white wine.

If the temperatures in your cellar are significantly higher, the wine will age rapidly and lose many of its flavors. If it is too cold, the wine will not mellow properly.

Drastic variations in temperatures can have adverse effects on your wine. These extreme changes compromise the integrity of the wine's airtight cork, which may lead to faster oxidation of your wine.

Humidity

You should maintain a steady humidity level of between 60% and 70% in your wine cellar. Higher humidity levels increase the risk of molds developing on the corks of your wine bottles and the multiplication of fungi. If humidity is too low, the watertight seal of the cork deteriorates, hastening the aging of the wine.

Consider installing a hygrometer that will enable you to measure and monitor the humidity levels in your cellar. It is preferable to purchase a device that alerts you when the temperature or humidity levels get out of the pre-set range. It should also be easy to use and read.

This bluetooth digital hygrometer doubles up as an indoor thermometer. Check it out on Amazon.

Light

The type of light, the strength of light, and the duration of exposure affect your wine. Light can alter your wine's chemical compounds, resulting in its premature development.

Your wine cellar should have as minimal exposure to direct sunlight as possible. Also, ensure that the bottles are stored in the dark and only exposed to light when necessary.

You should invest in soft rather than aggressive lighting for your cellar since tannins are sensitive to light. If possible, install dimmable LED lights in the cellar since they can be turned down when needed and emit minimal heat compared to non LED lights.

Read this article to find out how much lighting you need for a basement other than a wine cellar.

Stillness

Your wine cellar should be located in a calm and still environment as movement unsettles the wine. Positioning your cellar deep into the ground protects it from vibrations coming from ground level and above.

In Conclusion

Ensure that you properly ventilate your cellar as this will maintain good quality air in the cellar. It will also regulate temperature and humidity levels in the cellar.

Take into consideration the various options available to ventilate the cellar and choose one that adequately meets your needs.

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