Many of the kiva fireplaces in Stam houses, though built to the standards of the 1950’s, have fallen into disrepair. The masonry work, including fireplace thickness, hearth thickness, and hearth extension measure, is not up to current codes.
Justin Bailey recently built this masonry heater in Tesuque, NM. Bailey is one of the only contractors in The Southwest that offers design/build services for this type of fireplace, sometimes called a masonry stove.
Bailey, owner of Baileys Chimney, LLC, is New Mexico’s only member of the Masonry Heater Association, an international organization. He attends the MHA annual meeting every year in Wildacres, A retreat center on top of a mountain near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The annual meeting is a festive, educational event that lasts for one week. 120 Masonry Heater builders, designers and enthusiasts from a dozen countries gather to build heaters, share knowledge and expertise, and test new Heater designs.
Masonry heaters channel the flue gasses through passageways in the core of the heater so the mass absorbs the heat. One fire a day In this heater, and the house will stay warm 24/7. When the flue gasses leave the fire chamber they are over 1500 degrees, and when they leave the heater they are only 300 degrees F. All that heat remains trapped in the heater, which provides radiant heat to the room over time.
The radiation waves from a masonry surface are longer than radiation waves from a metal surface. The long radiation waves heat up all the mass in the room, rather than heating the air.
The warmth from a masonry heater tends to put people into a meditative, peaceful state. People say it “warms your bones.”
Masonry heaters are the most efficient way to heat with wood, if you measure the percentage of the energy in the fuel that gets converted to warmth in the room.
If you are interested in a custom masonry heater for your home, give Bailey a call.
As the winter season heads our way we are ready to get the fires burning again. Here are some great steps to take and things to remember:
Starting That First Fire Of The Season? Is Smoke In Your Face?
Baileys Chimney, LLC. is a certified Chimney Sweep company. Call us today Santa Fe 505-988-2771 / Taos 575-770-7769
Masonry Heater Association, Annual Meeting
Masonry Heater Camp at Wildacres!
By Justin Bailey
The Masonry Heater Association of North America (MHA) had its annual meeting at a retreat center called Wildacres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina from April 11-17th. The word ‘meeting’ doesn’t adequately describe the week-long festival. I’ve started to think of the experience as “Masonry Heater Camp.”
Accommodations are simple, but comfortable. Everyone shares a simple room with a roommate, and there are enough beds for about 120 attendees.
I first heard about MHA and Masonry Heater Camp when I took a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review course from Rich Rua 2014, in Columbus, OH. Rua mentioned that he’d been to the MHA annual meeting as a part of his overall education in the chimney trade. I asked him about it later, and I put it on my bucket list.
But I never had the opportunity to get seriously involved with masonry heaters until last year, when I got a call to look at a gigantic masonry heater, an Austrian “Tile Oven,” built from scratch in the 1990’s. The heater sits in a ski lodge called the Bavarian, at Taos Ski Valley, 10,200 ft altitude. In 2013, a billionaire bought the ski resort, and the masonry heater came with it.
I looked at the heater, asked lots of questions, scanned the flue, and it became clear that I needed more information and knowledge. 8 or 9 years ago, I learned, they burnt some green firewood in the heater, and it hadn’t worked ever since. Nobody could figure out how to fix it. They’d hired a local mason, who just made it worse.
I knew where the firebox was, and where the chimney was, but what lay between them was a mystery. There were no readily accessible soot doors, like Tulikivi heaters have. The heater was massive. I needed a plan. I needed information.
Thanks to the NCSG and the course I’d taken with Mr. Rua, I knew there was somebody out there I could call for help. A google search led me to the MHA, and I got executive director Dick Smith on the phone. He suggested I join the organization. The cost of a full voting membership was $300.00 per year. That’s how much I charged the billionaire for the initial service call/inspection, and I became a full voting member of the MHA. It turned out to be a pretty good investment.
After making some calls and talking with a couple of masonry heater builders from the association, I felt like I could at least write an estimate to fix the thing. I stated clearly in the proposal that there was no way for me to know how long it would take me to fix the heater, or how much it would end up costing. I found space in the estimate to mention that there was exactly one member of the MHA in New Mexico.
I got the gig, and soon enough, I was on the phone with one of the founding fathers of the MHA, Jerry Frisch. Jerry spent over an hour on the phone with me, that first time we talked. He asked me about the heater, and had me take photos of it and email them to him. He said that it sounded like there was a blockage in the flowpath. He told me how to find the masonry cleanouts, and how make the penetrations through the masonry material to access the passageways. When I offered him money for his consulting help, he refused.
“I just want to pass down the knowledge,” he said. “I’m only going to be doing this for another 20 years. My wife and I talked about it, and we agreed that we’ll do this for 20 more years and then we’ll talk about it again.”
“That’s very generous of you,” I said.
“I recently got remarried,” he said. “My first wife passed away. I just turned 80.”
With phone help from Jerry, I was able to get the heater working, test it out, clean the glaze from the flowpath and chimney, and install cleanout doors. I was fascinated and excited with the project. I felt grateful to have the job and the opportunity, and to have the help of the guys from the MHA. The first time we fired up the heater, with glass taped over all the cleanout openings so we could watch the smoke pass through the passageways in the heater, the manager of the Bavarian was happy to see how it all worked.
When I called Jerry Frisch to thank him for his help, he invited me to the World of Concrete (WOC) Trade Expo in Las Vegas, NV. “We’re going to build a masonry heater in the parking lot,” he said.
“Count me in!” I said.
Las Vegas and WOC were a blast, and got to see a masonry heater built by an expert from the ground up. I also helped build a wood fired pizza oven.
Fast forward a few months, I found myself at Wildacres for a week of Masonry Heater Camp. There were masons from the US, France, Russia, Canada, Germany, Finland, and Japan, all of them building heaters on site, answering any question you could think of. Of the 120 attendees, 7 of the masons own and/or operate their own testing labs. The CEO of Tulikivi International had flown in from Finland. Founders of other European startups were there. I’d signed up for the HMED course (Heater Mason Education & Development Program) which was developed by Jerry and Jim Frisch. Jim, Jerry’s younger brother, taught the course.
The classes and seminars included a bricklaying workshop, Chris Prior’s class on masonry arches, a course on emissions testing, and several history courses. I wasn’t able to attend many of them, because the HMED took up the majority of my time. Most days, the last class or seminar would let out around 10:00 p.m., and the festivities would already have begun.
And yes, they have an auction too, kind of like the CSIA action the NCSG convention.
By the time Friday rolled around, the newly built heaters were all fired up and running, including the large pizza oven. Pizzas started coming out of the oven in time for dinner – the best pizza I’d ever tasted in my life.
By nightfall, a group of musicians had gathered to play old standards and folk songs, seated on the warmed, L-shaped bench of a rocket mass heater with a cookstove top, where somebody was making crepes. I got to hang out with CSIA’s Darcy Marlett and Ashley Elridge, who were attending. People were dancing and the beer was flowing.
The pizza party was still raging as I headed down the mountain in my rental car at 2 a.m. to catch an early morning flight out of Charlotte.
The next morning, before noon, (according to photos I saw posted on facebook,) all the brand new heaters and ovens had been disassembled and the materials put away in storage. Ashley Elridge pointed out that the masons and students could learn as much or more by taking apart the heaters as they did when they built them.
In all my years in the chimney business, I’d never enjoyed myself more than I did during the week I spent at Masonry Heater Camp at Wildacres. I’ll be back next year, for sure. I hope to build my own masonry heater in my house soon, and I would like to become a certified masonry heater builder. With the HMED under my belt, I’ve taken the first step, but I have a lot more to learn.
If you would like to attend the Masonry Heater Camp next Spring, google the Masonry Heater Association of North America or go to mha-net.org.
By Justin Bailey
Has your fireplace ever been scanned?
At Bailey’s Chimney, we use Smart Scan technology to make sure your fireplace chimney is safe, from the inside out. An iphone up inside the chimney allows you to see the the condition of the inside of your chimney on the ipad screen in your living room.
In keeping with our position as leaders in the industry, we are the only chimney service company in New Mexico that offers this service with every fireplace chimney cleaning that we do.
Call us today at 575-770-7769 to take advantage of a $50.00 discount on your sweep and scan, offer is available until July 31st, 2014.
This offer cannot be combined with other promotions.
A customer from today posted this review on our face book page and on our google places page:
WOW Baileys just saved the lives of my dog Samantha and I…..I called them to clean the chimney so I could use the fireplace this winter in the place I rent…they have a GREAT REPUTATION…THOROUGH CONSCIENTIOUS. So I was really pleased at the work they did on the fireplace… But here’s the thing that may have saved our lives… Bailey’s offers a free dryer vent exam when they clean your fireplace and chimney ….I asked them to look at mine and Justin found that the dryer vent was disconnected…and with a gas dryer that means carbon monoxide can be released INTO YOUR HOUSE…so we have been breathing it for awhile, and all that lint was blowing BACK INTO the dryer which is a major fire hazard. GEEZ I thought I was doing enough by cleaning the lint trap when I used it….nope. They are cleaning the whole thing now! Thanks Justin for going above and beyond the call of duty….Samantha and I are grateful.
Well, this has been the busiest July in the history of Bailey’s Chimney C&R. The superior service we provide, at the competitive prices we offer, seems to appeal to folks all over Northern NM. We’ve had lots of great days full of work in so many beautiful places–Los Alamos, Abiquiu, Penasco, Taos, and Santa Fe.
My favorite job of the month so far was the wood stove installation we did for Helen Lopez in Llano San Juan, at the foot of the Picuris peaks. It was a great day’s work for a few reasons. Firstly, when we removed the old chimney we discovered that mice had been nesting around the existing chimney for many years and had caused an extreme fire hazard.
Around the new chimney we installed a two-layer steel sheild to keep mice from getting near the chimney. Preventing somebody’s house from burning down makes for a high level of job satisfaction. Also, the view from the roof was unbelievably gorgeous. And last but not least, our customers were delightful and we had lemonade and snacks after work with them at their picnic table next to the stream.
Tomorrow we have an exciting wood stove installation in Carson, NM. A lucky customer took advantage of a used package we sometimes can offer: a high quality used wood stove and top-of the line used chimney pipe all together, installed, for an amazing price. If you are interested in a package like this, let us know. They are not always available, but sometimes we come across great quality pre-owned used wood stoves and chimney that we can offer to someone who is interested in heating their home with wood.
Cleaning chimneys and dryer vents in July can be a bit hot, and we sweat a lot. But it keeps us fit, and on top of our game.
We are so grateful to all of our customers; its clear that they are the smartest consumers of chimney services in New Mexico!