Kutztown, PA: Hand-Built Finnish Contraflow Heater.

One of the first small fires in this Finnish contraflow heater.

This hand built Finnish contraflow masonry  heater warms the center of a masterful Amish timber frame home surrounded by Pennsylvania farmland. The owners designed an energy responsible home including passive and active solar, high insulation ratings, and a masonry heater in the center of the open floor plan. The heater lays between the kitchen and main living space of the home. The thick concrete floor and the massive heater also compose the thermal storage battery for the ample southern exposure windows providing passive solar heat storage .

Kitchen view of the completed heater including bake oven and soapstone countertop.

The clients excavated the heater’s local limestone veneer stone from the partially buried foundation remains of a building on the farm property. Two inch thick bluestone slabs cap the heater and small benches. There is a soapstone mantle above the loading doors. There is an additional small soapstone shelf before the bakeoven door as well as a spacious soapstone preparation counter at waist level. The client also provided clay tiles from a local artist to accent the heater and chimney.

A small terra cota tile with an owl, one of a dozen tiles inset into the heater's local stone veneer.

Freshly grouted terra cota dragon tile centerpiece surrounded by soapstone accent pieces.

The clients were excited about the many possibilities for the bake oven on the rear of the heater. Fresh scones were the first product.

The heater began with a discussion to determine the best location for the heater in the floor plan. Once the basic location and elements were finalized, detailed concept sketches were reviewed.

A detailed concept sketch for the masonry heater in the home.

The final kitchen side design sketch.

The heater starts with the core. Here we see the firebox floor followed by the completed firebox.

The start of the heater core. The first bricks in the firebox wall are in place.

The completed heater double wall firebox.

Once the core is completed, including the bake oven chamber, the side down draft channels are constructed. Here we see the beginning of the chimney side channel. When both side channels are completed the chimney base begins, as seen here from the kitchen side.

The heater's core with the start of the chimney side down draught channel.

The masonry chimney is constructed and plastered.

The completed chimney with plaster coating.

After the completion of the core and chimney, the stone veneer starts.

The stone veneer is started with a base layer around the heater.

The stone work includes openings for the loading, ash dump, and clean out doors.

New Smithville soapstone mantel is laid in the veneer stone.

A temporary wooden crosspiece supports the freshly laid hearth in front and cook shelf the rear.

The soapstone bake oven shelf is placed.

The stone work is completed and capped with local Pennsylvania bluestone.

One of the first small fires in this Finnish contraflow heater.

For more pictures and information on this amazing, zero-net energy home,¬†check out the homeowner’s blog.

Fire Works Masonry