Thanks for the blog. I have been been one of those avid readers that does not provide very much input, but I have some useful “how-to” information on heating your house in the temperate climate. I live in Iowa at the current time. A lot of this is hard to even put into words, because this style of heating is unique, and even more unique as I built the heaters my self. I recommend anyone trying to do these, to do additional homework before attempting any of this. I also studied “The Book of Masonry Stoves: Rediscovering an Old Way of Warming” by David Lyle, and “Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction ” by Thomas J. Elpel. What I built was the “Missouri Masonry” stove which was and is a free booklet PDF from the Missouri DNR web site called the “Missouri Masonry pdf”. After I called Roger at the DNR, he said the booklet was made almost 20 years ago and he was not to worried what I did with my information I got from them. At the time they had worked with the Missouri Department of natural resources and the US Department of energy to come up with the guide. Also I should note there is a company called Temp Cast. If you want to buy them pre made, and some Russian Masonry heaters on You tube that are really neat. I am a cable television technician by trade, but I took on all the brick laying skills myself, and by all means I’m no expert. Any mistakes that I made were entirely mine, and yet the bread oven masonry stove that I built has been working for years.
Why would you want a masonry heater versus a wood stove or ordinary furnace? I think the ultimate advantage I enjoy is that I don’t have to wake up at 2 a.m. to feed the wood stove. Also, once I have fired the stove on around four loads of wood, I have to do nothing, for around three days in my not so well insulated house. I do believe if my house was insulated correctly, that I would last for four to five days with doing absolutely nothing. Yes wood is a pain to chase, and dangerous to fall but it feels better and is radiant, and has been cheaper than normal sources of heat. The Masonry heater is more efficient in the use of the wood as it burns the creosote more cleanly. The ash tends to be more fine and whiter. The Whole of the heater is placed in the middle of your living quarters and acts like a big battery for heating anything within range of the heater. A lot of people are going out and installing, outdoor wood stove furnaces , which throws a lot of smoke on their neighbors, and is less efficient because the heat is wasted around the heater and up the chimney. With my masonry’s you can’t hardly tell I’m firing because after the initial start up smoke, there is very little smoke afterwards. It even feels good to cuddle the Masonry when sick or when your hands are almost frostbitten. Kids can touch all parts of the stove except the metal parts, and not be burned. The heat does not really blow since the heat is radiant, you could almost open all the windows, but the warm air escapes, but heat remains.
First I made the Missouri Masonry with a Bread Oven, I had moved into a brick building, with a thick concrete floor. I got my Firebrick from some old clay tile kilns nearby. Also to my advantage was that there was some arch brick which is important for temperature gains in the initial combustion. I used a refactory cement called flue set on the fire brick core. On the outside layer I used Menard’s cement for the base and Menard’s masonry mix for the ornamental brick. I built the chimney from Menard’s double layer stove pipe. The Glass Door I bought from a wood stove dealer, a blacksmith made the adapter for the door to swing on. The little clean out doors are all from Menard’s. I built a homemade damper into the brick right under the chimney pipe with a metal plate.
Okay, the second Missouri masonry is without a Bread Oven but has extra Flues to grab extra heat. This time I used new Fire Brick and parts similar to the bread oven. The square footage for each room with a masonry heater is 486 sq feet, I think these spaces come out about perfect for the heaters, down to 30 below ; could place a inside temperature around 62 degrees requiring more firing to keep heat up.
I feel that a lot of people, could benefit from my videos on you tube. I do have still photos as well. Since the design is a free download I hope to encourage masonry heaters instead of most other options. I am sure I made some mistakes, but I improved each time. I now know that I would not use aggregate brick and mix for fill, instead on the second one I cut all my bricks to fill in the arch gaps to make it sturdier and more square. Also my clean out doors did not come out perfectly flat. I also did not care if I had the bricks clean, and shiny as I just wanted heat not good looks. Using a Miter saw with a diamond blade to cut bricks and a rubber mallet became invaluable.
Here is a video on my bread oven.
And here is a video on my later masonry stove project, sans the bread oven.