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Storing pellets in an old, damp basement?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by StinaInMaine, May 21, 2008.

  1. StinaInMaine

    StinaInMaine New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
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    Loc:
    Calais, Maine
    Hi, everyone!

    I'm new to this forum (this is my first post), though I've been reading the boards for a while. My husband and I are trying to decide between buying a pellet stove or a coal stoker stove. I'm leaning pellet (less maintenance, renewable resource, easier to get locally, etc.) BUT we have a storage problem.

    We live in a 118-year-old Victorian house with a dirt cellar--no closets or other spot to store 5-6 tons of pellets besides the basement, which is damp/dank. Never any standing water but things that go down there come up smelling like basement. We do not want to store them outside--too much snow and rain in Maine--so can we store pellets in a musty basement?

    I saw the other thread about storing in a basement, just up off the floor (we'd put them on a concrete pad that's already down there and/or on pallets) but it didn't address damp AIR conditions. The Harman guy said we can store them down there as long as we don't put them down there at the start of the summer. But is he just trying to get us to buy his pellet stove?

    My husband is very worried about all of our pellets getting mouldy/musty/unburnable b/c the bags let in this musty air and we end up with sawdust. Any info you've got would be great! Thanks in advance! :)

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  2. JDenyer232

    JDenyer232 Member

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    Loc:
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    We used to have a damp basement, we now run a dehumidifier and the dampness is gone. It's not good for the wood structure to be damp all the time, the wood that holds your house up will rot away, that's the main reason we use a dehumidifier in our basement, keeping my pellets nice and dry is a nice side benefit. Hope this helps.
  3. StinaInMaine

    StinaInMaine New Member

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    Calais, Maine
    Actually, we have a granite foundation that's ridiculously thick, so no worries about the foundation and rot. It's not actually wet anywhere--just musty, probably because of the dirt floor and the age of the house. I'm trying to figure out if this will affect our pellets over just a few months (if we get them in Sept or Oct and use during the winter) or if we need to just go with coal (no concerns about moisure with rice coal!).
  4. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    South Coast MA
    IMO I would not risk it if the basement is that damp.
    The pellets will suck up the moisture over time especially
    if you have a dirt floor.
  5. JDenyer232

    JDenyer232 Member

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    Loc:
    Midcoast Maine
    The foundation is not what will rot, but the wooden components, ie the foundation sill, floor joists etc that are exposed to very humid air. It's actually called dry rot, the wood never gets wet, it's just damp all the time. A dehumidifier is almost a necesity here in maine where almost all cellars are damp, they help protect your home and whatever you choose to store in the basement. You should be able to store the pellets in the basement as is, I just wouldn't store them for more than a year.
  6. StinaInMaine

    StinaInMaine New Member

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    Calais, Maine
    Is Smartvent similar to Humidex? I was just nosing around online and found it--since we've got a musty basement and wet windows (in the winter), this might be something to help us and the pellets stay drier ;-) thanks for the idea! the enclosure sounds smart but don't know if my hubby will be willing to do all of that when we could just stack coal down there and forget it versus the effort of monitoring the pellets. Still, I'm going to do more research on ventilating versus running a dehumidifier (electricity is very expensive in Maine). It sounds like the pellet stove is a lost less maintenance than a coal stoker, so I'd really like to make this work.
  7. StinaInMaine

    StinaInMaine New Member

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    thanks, firestarter! we just moved here a year ago. it's been a crash course in trying to keep warm and fixing a lot of stuff in our old house :wow: it's a good thing we like it here! we weren't considering a dehumidifier b/c of extra expense but I hadn't thought about the structural integrity thing. really, it's more smelly than damp, but I think we'll look into some venting or a dehumidifier...
  8. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    As long as you get the pellets off the ground and leave them in their unopened bags, you should be fine.

    I have about 20 bags of pellets that have been sitting in my basement on a skid since 2002 (maybe 2003). My basement is concrete, but the area where they are stored gets very damp every spring/summer... to the point where the concrete is actually damp/wet under the pellets. Like your basement, mine also gets pretty humid and has an odor to it from spring to early fall. After not using them for a year or two, we later started using the old pellets for cat litter, which they work great for BTW. Anyway, after reading how to test old pellets here recently I decided to test some of these oldies. The tests showed they were perfectly fine to use. My stove is down for the season, but I gave a bag to my neighbor (who will take anything if it's free) and he said that bag ran just as good as any of his new pellets. I was shocked!

    So to answer your question, I strongly suspect you'd have no problem storing pellets in your basement for a season or two... just keep them sealed and off the floor. ;)
  9. Souzafone

    Souzafone Feeling the Heat

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    I've stored mine in the basement for over a year before with no problems. I'd be leery of the earth floor though. Pellets will only absorb moisture through direct contact, or condensation due to temperature change. My basement gets very damp in the summer due to the well pump and tank with the water being so cold, but the temperature doesn't vary much seasonally. I think you'd be ok as long as the pellets are stacked on a cement pad with a pallet, but building an enclosure sounds even better. Doesn't have to be anything pretty, just an area to maybe run a small dehumidifier when the humdity gets high.
  10. StinaInMaine

    StinaInMaine New Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Calais, Maine
    Thanks, everyone, for the very helpful advice! I think we are going to go with pellets and hope for the best on the basement storage. I'm just too much of a tree hugger to go with coal--pellets are made in Maine and they are C02 neutral. Can't beat that!We hope that waiting until September to buy pellets should help a lot with the humidity and we'll definitely keep them on pallets off the dirt. We'll buy a humidifier if necessary. Oh yeah--anyone know where I can find the thread about checking your pellets to know they are OK?

    thanks!
  11. pjrettin

    pjrettin Member

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    Just wondering how you made out with storing the pellets in the damp basement? Facing a similar situation here.

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