How a masonry heater works
In a masonry heater, a big charge of wood is burned rapidly, usually 2 hours,
which releases heated gases into a network of tunnels within the masonry
mass. The masonry absorbs the heat and then slowly radiates it into the
house over a period of 12–20 hours.
The first firing of the season takes 2 or 3 days to bring the heat up to a
comfortable level. Once this level is achieved however, you can depend on
non-drying warmth for the entire heating season with minimal firing.
A single firing consumes 50 - 60 pounds of seasoned hardwood. One firing
per day for a month would use approximately 1/2 cord of firewood.
Cleaner air inside and outside your home
The firebox is lined with firebrick, refractory concrete, or similar material that
can handle temperatures of over 2,000°F (1,093°C). Since the firewood is
burned rapidly at such a high temperature it burns cleanly with maximum
efficiency and minimum pollution. Masonry heaters commonly reach a
combustion efficiency of 90%.
An equally important benefit of rapid combustion is the near total elimination
of creosote deposits in the chimney flue which minimize the risk of a chimney
Customize your heater
In addition to a firebox, the parts of a masonry heater include, a large
masonry mass, cast iron doors, dampers, and decorative masonry facing.
Optional extras, such as a bake oven, heated bench, glass doors for flame
viewing, or a hot water coil can be incorporated into the design.
A completed masonry heater weighs 3 to 6 tons and requires a specially
designed foundation to accommodate the substantial weight. While a
concrete foundation is ideal, lolly columns or structural steel can be
substituted to save money.
Retrofitting your home with a masonry heater is possible if it has an open
floor plan, but they're best suited for new super-insulated home construction
and additions designed with a radiant heating system in mind.
Masonry heater cost
According to Marge Padgitt, president of Padgitt Chimney & Fireplace in
Kansas City, Missouri; "The average cost a homeowner may expect to pay is
from $15,000 to$30,000, with price depending on the complexity of the
heater, material costs, and labor. The expected time to get a return on your
money is approximately 10 years."
Masonry stoves and fireplaces, decorated with tile, stone, or adobe are also
very attractive from an interior design standpoint, and often downright
Masonry Heater - Finnish Fireplace
Masonry heaters are also
known as "Russian,"
"Siberian," and "Finnish"
They produce more heat
and less pollution than any
other wood or pellet
Conceived in Europe as an
efficient way to heat
individual rooms, the idea
of a whole house masonry
heater actually originated
in North America.