There are many individual mistakes that people make when building their wine room but they all share a common gene: trying to do the job as cheaply as possible. It is not wise to build a climate controlled wine room on the cheap.
Some of the mistakes or problem areas are:
- Incorrectly designed or poorly installed air & vapor barriers. If the two different climates – cold & humid and warm & dry – are allowed to meet, problems develop.
The result of these two climates meeting is a dew point, usually between the walls. A dew point results in condensation. The problem is the mold caused by moisture in the walls. Take your time and do this step very carefully or hire a professional.
- Choosing the wrong type of refrigeration system and then not reading the product specifications. There are many different refrigeration systems for wine rooms: through-the-wall units, split systems, ducted systems and a few other variations. The two most frequent problems that I see with these systems are: 1. The unit has to be returned to the manufacturer for service (this means that you have to take it out of the wall, box it up, ship it, and wait for them to return it); and, 2. The unit can not cool the hot outside air to 55 degrees. Be sure to ask your sales person a lot of questions and get answers in writing.
- Windows on exterior walls. I see this every now and then. There is no need for a window on an exterior wall. For one thing, you don’t want the light in the room and the heat on the glass can create a unique set of problems.
- Wrong doors. The door needs to be an exterior grade door with heavy duty weather-stripping and threshold. If not, the door will not seal correctly and there will be moisture related problems.
- Non-insulated glass in windows. If you want a window in the door or the wall, be sure to use insulated glass. If not, there are all sorts of potential problems. The result of the non-insulated glass is heat loss and the problem is that the refrigeration unit might not have the power to overcome this loss. This means that the room will not be the optimal temperature and/or your refrigeration system will be running all the time.
- Poor quality racking. This situation usually happens with cheap kits or carpenter built racks. Yes, there is a big difference in price between custom racks and the others, but this is the component that you and your friends see and the one that holds your precious wine collection.
Wine Enthusiast has a tremendous offering of wine related products.
Below are links to their current sale items:
As you can see, the basic problem is moisture - in the walls, on the glass, or in the room. There are many steps in the planning and construction of the room that need to be done correctly to avoid the problem of moisture.
All of the problems can be avoided by taking your time, analyzing the information and not making a choice based strictly on cost. Always consider hiring a professional.
Jost Lunstroth is VP of Vineyard Wine Cellars, a Texas company that designs and builds climate controlled wine storage systems.