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Dear Dr. Vinny,

The ceiling of my basement wine cellar has ductwork and electrical wires, making a continuous vapor barrier impossible. I’d rather not use spray foam! Any advice?

—Brad B., Hilliard, Ohio

Dear Brad,

Your approach to wine storage should depend on how long you plan to store your wine, how much space you have, and what your budget is. The fact that you have a dedicated space in a basement puts you way ahead of a lot of folks.

A vapor barrier is a moisture-proof layer to deal with the inevitable condensation caused by a cooling unit, and it's important to consider the effects of that condensation if a vapor barrier is not an option. Insulation is an important step. There are three basic types of insulation used for cellars: insulation batt (fiberglass or wool rolls), polystyrene or rigid foam board, and spray foam. Spray foam is considered the best type of insulation but, as you point out, isn’t ideal in every situation. You might need to get a consultation from a cellar company or a general contractor to figure out which option is best for you, and how to protect that ductwork and wiring.

—Dr. Vinny

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