What to Do with Your Cold Room?

Cold rooms serve as modern cellars designed to be underground, providing a cool environment for storing preserves and other food items. Typically located below a porch, these spaces are technically underground and lack insulation but feature ventilation for air exchange. Over the years, the construction of cold rooms has evolved, yet many still exist in their original state from 50 years ago. In this blog, we’ll explore the intended design of a cold room in contrast to common misuses.

Hollow door Medium
Hollow door in cold room

What Constitutes an Ideal Cold Room?

  1. Cold rooms should remain devoid of any insulation to fulfill their purpose of being colder than the rest of the house.
  2. Adequate inert ventilation, usually in the form of a hole with an exterior vent cover, is essential to prevent pests. Mechanical ventilation, such as a ventilation fan, is unnecessary.
  3. A metal insulated door or a solid wood door, fully sealed with weather stripping at the sides and bottom, is crucial to prevent warm air from the basement entering the cold room.
  4. Typically, a single light fixture is sufficient to provide illumination in the cold room.
Moisture penetration Medium
Mold in a cold room

Common Issues in Cold Rooms

  1. Musty smells often result from inadequate ventilation, non-insulated doors, improper sealing, or moisture penetration from the exterior.
  2. Styrofoam insulation on walls and ceilings with low R-values defeats the purpose of maintaining a cold environment.
  3. Using the cold room for storing organic materials like clothes or boxes encourages mold growth due to the inherently moist and cold conditions.
  4. Sealing the vent because the cold room feels “too cold” can create condensation and mold growth.
  5. Installing a hollow wood door allows warm air to enter, leading to condensation and mold.


Can I convert my cold room into a storage room?

Yes, with proper insulation like spray foam, the cold room can be transformed into a functional storage space.

Can I remove the door completely?

No, removing the door would cause condensation in the cold room and allow cold air into the basement.

Can I store food in the cold room?

No, the inherent moisture in cold rooms can spoil food, and it’s not recommended for anything beyond the practice of dry curing certain meat products.

Can I remove the wood from the cold room ceiling?

Yes, if the wood was used only as a form for the concrete porch and not for structural purposes.

Is mold normal in the cold room?

No, mold is not normal in any indoor space, including the cold room. If there is mold, an issue needs to be addressed.

Should I install a ventilation fan?

No, a ventilation hole in the concrete is sufficient; a fan is not required and may not be worth the trouble.