Archive for October, 2008

Rock Hill, NY Finnish Contraflow Heater.

October 12, 2008 by , under Fire Works Masonry News.

This very simple heater warms this renovated barn in the New York Catskills. To accommodate for an upcoming bridge improvement, the town had scheduled this small barn for demolition. The new owner of the property decided to move and renovate the old barn as his new home instead.With acres of woods on the old farm property, an open floor plan and very cold winters, the owner decided to heat this new home with the most efficient wood burning appliance there is: a masonry heater. The homeowner wanted an aesthetically simple look for the Finnish fireplace. A basic heater shell and chimney would be constructed and coated with plain stucco.The Finnish contraflow Heat-Kit core is finished in a single day working with heater expert Norbert Senf from Masonry Stove Builders. Here is a view of the completed core from the loft space above.The outer wall, or veneer of the heater covering the core is simple firebrick on edge. The chimney is made of 4" masonry blocks.The doors and masonry to metal chimney transition are installed.The metal chimney is completed. Work on the rest of the home progresses as well. The heater is part of a divider wall between the master bedroom and main floor living space. This wall is also completed in the photo below.The rear heater wall acts as a vertical radiant panel warming the bedroom on even the coldest winter nights. The homeowner's bed moves to the rear wall of the masonry heater in the coldest winter months.

The completed, simple firebrick heater.

The homeowner liked the simple, “honest” look of the firebrick and block. He choose to not go forward with the final stucco layer for the present time.One of the first fires in the completed masonry heater.

For more great pictures of this home, check out the homeowner’s blog.

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Kutztown, PA: Hand-Built Finnish Contraflow Heater.

October 10, 2008 by , under Fire Works Masonry News.

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.

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Garrison, NY: Fieldstone Finnish Contraflow Masonry Heater

October 2, 2008 by , under Fire Works Masonry News.

A charge of wood at full combustion in the Garrison, NY heater.

An intense burn in the firebox, Garrison, NY.

This heater warms a home in the wooded foothills of the Hudson valley. The Appalachian Trail runs on the crest of the ridge behind the house. The clients designed the home to take advantage of passive solar heating and the clean heat of a masonry heater. They wished to use the colorful stone on the property for the heater finish as well as for masonry accents along the house. The heater divides a living and family room in the house with convenient bake oven access from the kitchen.

The heater divides the main family living space and kitchen in Garrison, NY.

The rear of the heater with a black oven.

The rear heater wall with bakeoven in Garrison, NY.

The family took a very active roll in the heater design. The clients were building a full finished basement to support a prefabricated house. They built the house with solar Southern alignment and added more windows on that side to provide passive solar heat. After researching clean burning, efficient wood heat on the internet the family decided on a masonry heater for the home’s main heat source. The large stone heater mass also adds to the home’s solar heat storage.

The heater was designed to the family’s wishe, dividing a living room and family room space. The bake-oven is adjacent to the open kitchen. The heater’s layout design and concept sketches were completed.

The final heater design concept sketch.

The heater is offset from the chimney by a five foot long heated bench/wood box.  The firebrick bench to the left connects the heater exhaust to the chimney. The bench and chimney  are both lined with firebricks to increase the overall thermal mass.

The completed core, bench and chimney.


The completed firebox.


Once the core was completed and wrapped, the stone from the client’s property is started. Ideal heater veneer stones are no thicker than five inches. Thicker stones decrease the surface temperature of the heater and increase the time it takes for the energy from the burn to be released into your home. Here we see the stone on the bake oven side of the heater near completion.

The stone veneer is started on the bakeoven side of the heater in Garrison, NY.

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