This hand built brick contraflow heater replaced a cast iron wood stove in a Hillsborough, NJ basement. The heater exhausts into the same existing lined masonry chimney that the old metal stove utilized. The two side heated benches provide enough room for the family’s four cats to enjoy. Continue reading Hillsborough, NJ Brick Hand-Built Finnish Contraflow Masonry Heater.
This brick heater was built into an existing home as part of an extensive renovation. The family wanted a more open floor plan between the living room and kitchen. This is an ideal situation for a masonry heater. The wall between the kitchen and living room was removed and appropriate measures were taken to address the load bearing wall issues. The family was delighted with the new space and freedom on the first floor. The new more spacious floor plan was also ideal for the inclusion of a radiant masonry heater.
The brick Finnish contraflow heater divides the living room and kitchen. The loading door and wood box heat and illuminate the living room while the bakeoven warms and cooks in the kitchen. A short heated bench under the wood box connects the heater to an already existing masonry chimney in the nearly 100 year old house. The existing chimney was used for a basement wood stove in the past. This original chimney was relined with an insulated steel insert for safety and to meet modern code requirements.
During the kitchen renovation, the heater’s bake-oven was the sole source of cooking. The family discovered the versatility of retained heat cooking for more than just delicious pizza, preparing everything from eggs and bacon for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch, slow cooked pulled pork and baked potatoes for dinner, finally to cookies or pie in the evening. They also mastered dutch-oven cooking, leaving a stew in the cast iron cookware in the morning to return home in the evening to a ready to go dinner.
Along with the great meals and aesthetic enjoyment of the heater, the family obviously also desired to cut their high heating bills in the old home. After finishing the heater, the next heating season the family burned two fires a day in the masonry heater and reduced their natural gas heating bill from the previous season by over 70%. The home is in a urban location. The home owner contacted local tree removal services and secured free delivered tree rounds to the home. With some time and a wood splitter the owner obtained most of his winter heat for free and saved trees from the landfill or mulch pile.
Fire Works Masonry
This Finnish contraflow heater is the centerpiece of a living room addition to this Hillsborough, NJ home. The family spend most of their time in this room conveniently beside the expanded kitchen. The well insulated space stays comfortable all winter with the soft heat radiating from the Pennsylvania field stones. The blue stone hearth before the loading doors is also from a local Pennsylvanian quarry.
The heater’s efficiency starts with the well designed and thoroughly tested Heat Kit core. The core is surrounded and slowly releases it’s stored energy created by the intense fire into the veneer stones. Here we see the core wrapped with a fiberglass blanket to allow for thermal expansion. The stone facade is about halfway completed at this point. A wooden form creates the open space for the later installation of the loading door. Similarly, the two lower small foam pieces hold the opening for the clean out doors. The doors provide seasonal access to the two side downdraft channels to clean any of the fine fly ash from the intense heater burn.
Mark Twain wrote the following description in ‘Europe and Elsewhere’. Although he spoke of German fireplaces specifically, his words are now true (in proportion) for all of the Masonry Heaters that we install.