Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brick Oven Doctor

Occasionally, I get emails or calls from people who have a sick brick oven.
"My oven won't get up (to temperature)!"
"Something's really wrong here! The oven smokes a lot and I'm suffering from second-hand smoke (whining)."
mouth too big
"I'm the victim of UNintelligent design!"

I diagnose the problems, which usually trace their cause to the first-time builder/mason or to a design found on the internet.

Brickwoodovens' design doesn't work
Brick ovens are different from nearly every other wood-burning device.  The place where the fire goes is meant to be entirely isolated from the flue and it is intended to hold heat for a long time.
Because of these two factors, improper placement or sizing of the flue will result in ovens that won't heat or that smoke OR ovens that quickly cool down.

perfect draft
plenty of insulation
Dozens of posts on this blog explain the dynamics of mouth/dome proportions, creating good draft, and conserving heat.  The operation manual on my website: truebrickovens.com gives a step-by-step on firing a wood-fired brick oven.

Still, and sadly, there are masons and home builders who want to reinvent the oven.  Then I get a call.
Once an oven is built and all the masonry constructed around it, it is difficult and expensive to fix.

In a recent situation, I likened the oven the person had built by a mason to a car which had a body, wheels, and tailpipe but no engine, transmission, or steering wheel; fairly expensive to repair.

Pompeii, Italy
Pietree oven before stone face

I think that the domed ovens found in Pompeii, Italy and used throughout the world for centuries were and are the perfect design for pizza and bread ovens.  With some modern insulating materials, they retain heat in our time without the need for constant firing.

So, call the doctor if you need to, but better still, build it right the first time.

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