Building a Cellar Out of Recycled Septic Tank

After sufficient cleaning, John Richards succeeded in building a root cellar out of a recycled septic tank.


| September/October 2017



root cellar

An underground cellar can double as a storm shelter.

Photo courtesy Farm Show

John Richards figures out practical uses for things he has on hand. That outlook led him to make an inexpensive cold-storage cellar.

“I used a fiberglass septic tank. We put apples, carrots, parsnips, squash, and potatoes in it. It stays 40 degrees Fahrenheit all winter,” Richards says.

He purchased the tank from a neighbor for $150, after seeing it in his yard for years.

Richards dug a hole in the side of a hill near his house to accommodate the 8-foot-long, 5-foot-wide, 61⁄2-foot-tall tank. He framed in a door, and disinfected and sanitized the inside of the tank. Covered with 4-inch plastic foam, plastic, and a foot of dirt, the storage unit is well insulated.

With a vent out of an inlet hole, he’s never had problems with moisture in the tank during warm weather, and he plugs the vent during winter.

With a couple of shelves inside, the storage area preserves vegetables that Richards, 82, and his wife grow every summer.





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