How Do I Build a Home Coal Storage Unit?

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Outdoor home coal storage units are better for your health.
Outdoor home coal storage units are better for your health. (Image: Coal fork. image by bluefern from Fotolia.com)

When you build a coal storage unit, consider the cost of materials, size of the proposed installation, location of the storage unit and the structural design and stability of the new construction. In short, the store needs to be safe, economical, easy to access and strong enough to cope with storing large amounts of heavy, bulky coal.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • Measuring tape
  • Stones or wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Spade
  • Spirit level
  • Galvanized wire mesh
  • Strong plastic or wood
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Wheelbarrow

Decide how much coal you are likely to need to store, for example, during one winter. Estimate the amount of coal you used during a full year. An average home can use around two tons of coal each year.

Choose the location of the storage unit. Choose an outdoor location for a large storage unit and reduce indoor dust problems. Calculate the volume of storage you will require to store tons of coal. The general rule is 40 cubic feet for one ton of coal. Each edge will measure about 40 inches. Measure out the size of storage required at the site using a measuring tape. Plot it on the ground using stones, or hammer in small wooden stakes around the intended perimeter.

Keep your coal dry. Dig into the ground first using a spade. Level out the base and sides using the spade and a spirit level. Install wire mesh across the entire base of the hole using sturdy, preferably galvanized, wire, which will allow the coal dust to settle beneath the usable coal pieces, and prevent dust entering your home. Secure the mesh by packing the edges with large stones.

Line the perimeter of the coal store with enough waterproof tarpaulin to reach up the sides and extend out over the surface of the earth beside the storage unit, which will prevent soil moisture from damaging the coal. Weight the edges of the tarpaulin down with heavy stones. Build a lid from strong plastic or hardwood. Ensure the lid measures a half foot longer on all sides than the four perimeter walls, but fits between the heavy stones holding the tarpaulin down.

Wear a mask and thick gloves. Move your coal using your hands, or in bulk using a wheelbarrow. Tip the coal inside the storage unit in stages. Use your spade to level the coal and create more room. Secure the lid when the store is full. Weight the lid down with stones if you think it might blow off or be disturbed by animals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store coal for as short a duration as possible before use and keep the coal dry for best results during heating.
  • Coal dust is dangerous when breathed in because it can damage the respiratory system. Wear a mask and gloves to prevent dust inhalation when handling coal.

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