Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Masonry Heater Facing

We have finally finished facing our heater. We faced it with Brampton bricks from Hebron Brick. I like that our bricks came from just down the road a spell, even though my original hope was to find reclaimed bricks.

I don't have a lot of expert tips on slinging mud and laying bricks, since before this project I had never laid a brick. However, I do have some tips for beginners like me.

We set plumb lines for the corners, because I saw that most professionals do this. In order to set them I borrowed a laser plumb line from a friend of mine. It worked excellent and saved us a lot of time.

If you have never done any masonry before, make sure you have a wife that is willing to tool all the joints. My wife is good at it and hides a lot of my mistakes.

Tips specific to this heater.
My hardware came from Northstone Heat. Their customer service is top notch! Our hardware installation came with a learning curve. Our firebox door said for a 410 x 410mm door, you need a 420 x 420mm rough opening (approx. 16.5"). I would have gone with 17" x 17" if I were to do it again. The frame of the hardware would more than cover the gap and it would have made them easier to install and gave us more room for an expansion joint. We installed ours using the hammer drill and screws supplied with the doors.

We did the jack arch based on Marcus Flynn's description.  My Dad did an excellent job of drawing the template for us. I used the cardboard template to cut the bricks with a diamond blade on my miter saw. Even though it is an arch, we still opted for a steel lintel for peace of mind. I lined the lintel with ceramic paper in order to block some of the heat.

We chose to wrap the core of our heater with fiberglass for an expansion/slip joint. Some masons use cardboard but fiberglass seemed more professional to me. We used fiberglass mat that you can buy at auto parts stores. It is normally used for bondo work. It worked OK but it only came in 8 square foot pieces. It wasn't until we had already wrapped it that we found out there is a shop in town that repairs fiberglass boats and would have sold it to us off of a roll. So, look for boat shops near by. The front and back (where it is hottest) got four layers. The sides only got one. I also put an additional piece of ceramic paper above the firebox door (not seen in picture, sorry) to try to keep the mortar from cracking in a spot that will see a lot of heat.

We haven't been able to fire it yet, since we have to install the chimney now. Winter is coming and we have a large stack of firewood just begging for flame.