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The Cold Room Conundrum

Friday, April 10th, 2020 by Dan Koehler


Oh, the good old cold room. Love these unique cellars or hate them; they're found all across the province, and they're here to stay. Built with good intentions, cold rooms can be a great asset for a home to have, but the way they're constructed can lead to water seepage issues, dampness and mould. 

These small storage spaces are sort of unique for Ontarians, and in recent years we've heard more and more customers voice their concern about them: Why do they leak? How do I combat the dampness? And, what can be done to make my cold room more useable?

We've seen the best of the best, and cold rooms you wouldn't send your worst enemy into, and we've worked to develop a unique solution built for these cold, damp little basement rooms. But first, let's learn about how they're built, and why they're so prone to moisture.

Finished cold room with stock

Why do cold rooms leak?

 A cold room faces many of the same issues that all basement foundations do, but even less effort goes into waterproofing cold rooms during home construction They're designed to stay cooler and more humid than the rest of your house, sort of like a walk-in fridge. While this can be a great way to store potatoes, it's not so great for humans, where nowadays we have a lot more to store than some simple food.

Usually, cold rooms sit directly below a front porch, walkway, or patio. These concrete and stone slabs aren't optimal for drainage, and when moisture is trapped between the cold room ceiling and walls, it finds the easiest path to go. Unfortunately, this is often directly into your cold cellar. Sometimes it finds a crack as a way in, or expanding and contracting temperatures can even create one.

Another common area for concern is the floor and wall seams, and form joints. When two pieces of concrete or foundation meet, they usually aren't sealed all that securely. Over time water finds a way through these seems.

But, even if you manage to seal everything perfectly, you’ll likely still be dealing with a leaking room. Like we said, these rooms thrive on humidity, and cold air has a tendency of messing with high humidity levels. When a cold wind connects with the concrete porch the moisture in the air (inside)condenses on the cold concrete, literally making it rain inside your cold room, even when it’s not raining outside. It’s an interesting phenomenon, sure, but not something you want in your home. Think of a cold drink on a hot summer day and the glass starts to sweat. Is the glass leaking? No, the moisture in the air is condensing on the cold surface of the glass.

It's a catch-22; The features that give you a chilled, humid room, are the same ones that let water seep in the first place.

What can be done?

What you decide to store in your cold room can play a role when it comes to mould. Wood framing installed by homebuilders should usually be removed to prevent any funky growths. Storing cardboard or other organic materials can lead to mould as well, but isn't this the point of a storage room? To store things? 

That's where Clarke Basement Systems can help.

We've developed a unique, industry-leading solution for waterproofing cold rooms. It's not just the combination of using a French drain, sump pump system, and vapour barrier. Many other companies utilize similar products, but there’s so much more to it than that. It's that we've taken the trial and error away and figured out the best way to use these products in perfect harmony, eliminating the threat of water in your cold room, and with a warranty to boot! We can change that old, damp room that no one wants to use into a bright, dry, and useable storage area. Contact us today!

our service area

We serve the following areas

Our Locations:

Clarke Basement Systems
12045 McCowan Rd
Stouffville, ON L4A 4C3
1-416-800-3177


Clarke Basement Systems
7250 Keele St Store #209
Vaughan, ON L4k 1Z8
1-416-800-1687
Clarke Basement Systems service area