If you remember, last December I received an early Christmas present: a wood cookstove. Specifically, an airtight Baker's Choice purchased through a regional brokerage in Montana called Obadiah's Woodstoves.
We took possession of the stove on December 11 of last year. For several months it sat, wrapped, in the barn.
Last March, needing to put the stove roughly in place to gauge how best to install it, we brought it into the house with the aid of the tractor.
And there the stove sat on wheeled furniture movers, all through the spring, summer, and early fall (when we were at our busiest).
October rolled around, and it was time to start working on the installation. Don wanted to build a fire-proof flooring and backing that would meet code. After some research, he ordered ceramic tiles that looked like stone.
These tiles are cleverly made so all sides fit snugly together (without the need for mortar) and the seams look like natural breaks in the "rocks."
Next step: to clear away the spot where the stove will go.
We laid out the tile just to get an idea of the size/spacing and overall look.
Using a felt-tip marker, Don marked where to cut away the carpet and linoleum. We don't have to build a platform underneath, because our floor is solid concrete.
Marked and ready to cut.
The carpet was fairly easy to pull away; the linoleum required a bit more work.
And a bit more persuasion.
Then it was finally time to lay the floor tiles. Don smeared a heavy layer of adhesive on the back of each tile, and pushed each one into place.
Sometimes he used a rubber mallet to tap a tile snug against its neighbor, then a paper towel to wipe away any adhesive that squeezed out. The result was very handsome.
Unlike the floor, however, the backing against the wall required a heat shield. Don made slats 1.5 inches "deep" (and two inches wide) to place along the wall to make an air space.
He used both glue and screws to affix the slats.
Then he installed cement board over the slats.
After that, he started applying the tiles and building the wall.
The end result:
Then it was time to move the stove itself into place. We wheeled it over to the front of the pad...
...then offered to host the weekly potluck so we could utilize the strong backs of all our neighborhood menfolk. The stove weighs about 475 lbs., so it took a bit of manhandling.
Next up: pipe.
The reason we chose to place the cookstove where we did is because our house already had a triple-walled pipe up through the ceiling and roof (though, oddly, it was placed right in front of a window). Maybe the former residents had cookstove; we don't know.
Because the pipe through the roof was placed in front of the window, we were tasked with getting jointed pipe in order to extend from the cookstove up to the existing pipe in the ceiling, 11 feet up. This turned out to be a bigger challenge than we anticipated.
Don measured carefully, then went and purchased the straight pipe and the jointed connectors. However it was challenging to keep the pipes supported while installed. Younger Daughter and myself climbed on stools and ladders as necessary to hold things up.
However the task required more hands than we had available, so we employed the judicious use of duct tape at times.
The last bit of pipe required a bit of trimming. Don had both tin snips and a crimper.
At last we had everything hooked up. Don put in screws to keep the piping where it was supposed to be (the screws allow us to disassemble the pipes when we need to scrub them).
Next step: Though a triple-walled pipe extended above the roof, it wasn't high enough to draw properly. We needed to add another section of pipe. Fortunately we already had two triple-walled sections of pipe on hand.
But adding the pipe extensions was a fairly complicated maneuver because of the pitch and slipperiness of the roof. Our "redneck" solution? Brace the extension ladder in the bed of the truck.
The ladder was tied in place. The result was a surprisingly sturdy means to access the roof pipe.
Don climbed up and removed the cap...
...and made an expensive discovery: Our existing triple-walled pipe is seven inches in diameter, but the roof pipe is six inches. Crud.
This meant springing for new six-inch triple-walled pipe. Cha-ching! This set us back about $120. Triple-walled pipe is expensive.
The next day Don decided to set up the ladder using the bucket of the tractor rather than the bed of the truck. This turned out to be an even sturdier solution to access the roof.
Lydia watched the proceedings with great interest.
The new pipe extension locked easily into the older pipe. Don made sure to put the cap on the new extension before climbing onto the roof.
A metal band gives extra strength to the locking connection between the pipes. Here he's screwing the band tight.
He still has support brackets he wants to install on the pipe to add strength during high winds as well as snow sliding down the roof; but now the cookstove is ready for use. Exciting moment!
Inside the brand-new clean woodbox...
...we laid a fire the same way we do in our old antique parlor stove...
...and lit it.
Big mistake. We weren't used to the air-tight nature of this stove. We had so much smoke billowing out that we had to open every window. We used bellows to try and ignite the fire, but it kept going out and just smoking. We tinkered with the air-flow knobs and messed around with the ash bucket door while smoke kept pouring out of the stove.
At last, more by accident than design, we got the fire lit, and the stovepipe warmed up and began to draw. It made all the difference in the world. The smoke cleared, we closed the windows, adjusted the vents, and the stove began pumping out warmth. It warmed and warmed and warmed the room until it was a gasping 75F, far warmer than we're used to. (After years of a cool house, we're not used to a very warm environment.)
I put on the kettle, which soon boiled...
...and made myself a ceremonial cup of tea ... just because I could.
Later for dinner, Younger Daughter made herself an omelet.
We were warned -- and it was true -- that the first time the stove had a fire in it, there would be strong fumes from the paint vapor burning off. Sure enough, it was so thick in the house we had to open all the windows again, and Younger Daughter brought Lihn, her parrot, into her bedroom and closed the door so the bird wouldn't be affected by the fumes. It lasted a couple of hours, and then it was fine.
We're still learning all the bells and whistles of the stove, of course, but one of the first things we learned is how unbelievably efficient it is, particularly when compared to our antique parlor stove. With its airtight nature, we're estimating we're using one-third to one-quarter as much wood. A log will last all night (it's delightful to come downstairs to a warm house in the wee hours of the morn).
Whoo-hoo, we have a wood cookstove!