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Walker 11-29-2009 08:30 PM

Ovens exposed in rainy climates
Hello, new member here.

Not yet an oven-owner but have been thinking of building one for some time; I got the Earth Oven book and decided I should keep doing research because I live in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where it's rainy a lot of the year.

Wondering if anyone else has their wood-fired oven outdoors in Cascadia, and how much of a hassle it is dealing with rain. The caution on the Forno Bravo kit ovens about "don't let water go down the chimney" gives me pause -- it rains here a LOT about 9 months a year.

Presumably I could buy a chimney cap that would keep rain from pouring directly down the chimney, but I don't know how that would affect the draw (if at all). Is operating a wood-fired brick oven a problem during the rain?

Any advice, experiences to share from rainy-climate brick oven enthusiasts?

Salem, OR

Neil2 11-30-2009 08:45 PM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
It is more of a "vent" than a "chimney". Get a chimney cap to keep the rain out. I'm up here on Vancouver Island and we probably get as much or more rain than you do. My outer dome is acrylic stucco and is "rain resistant".

Over the winter or if we get a rainy spell , I cover it with a poly tarp and check periodically to see if it is dry inside. I re-cure it every spring to slowly drive out any moisture and to re-cure the mortar. The thing to think about is the refractory mortar. Unlike portland mortars, refractory mortars will soften if exposed to moisture over time and need to be re-cured.

nissanneill 12-01-2009 01:17 AM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
Hi Walker and welcome.
Keeping you oven dry is a very easy task. All you have to do is to waterproof it, but even easier is to put it into an enclosure or as I did with mine, built a patio over it so it vents out through the roof.
By doing that, you then have an all weather year round area for use and with a basic kitchen within, you can entertain all year without making a mess in the house. Enclose the are and you have a great useful asset or extra room.


texassourdough 12-01-2009 04:03 AM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
I strongly endorse the logic of putting a physical roof over the oven - i.e.not an igloo but with walls and a separate roof. While it is certainly possible to build an igloo that will not hold water it is also easy to build one that will have water problems and water is at best inconvenient to deal with. Besides, in the Willamette Valley you need a roof for YOU so you can cook!

Drink more pinot noir!

Jed 12-01-2009 08:05 PM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
Hey Walker,

Welcome to the forum! Glad to see more folks from the Northwest in the group, building ovens.

I built an oven a couple years ago, just over the hill from you, here in Bend. If you are coming this way, I'm happy to show off the oven, and you are welcome to stop by... It is a good thing to have a WFO in the back yard!

I was born and raised on your side of the mountain, and understand your concern about the rain and wet. And I agree with Neil2 about the wet, don't let that slow you down with your build.

I might suggest that if you build a structure with a roof you will be happier with the results than if you choose the igloo finish.

CanucJim built a roof over the oven that extends over the work area -

PhotoPlog - Finished Ovens

and to my eye that looks like a great combination for rainy country (much easier to use year round with protection from the rain). If you have control over the orientation of the oven, face the oven door away from the prevailing wind. Jim bakes a bunch of bread and uses the barrel vault style oven with the larger thermal mass. If you are cooking for yourself and not planning to sell bread, the Pompeii oven (round foot print, less thermal mass) is a great choice.

Ask any questions you have along the way, and have fun building your oven.


PS: The Eugene paper recently had an article about a couple different guys in Eugene that have built the Allan Scott style ovens - and if you fish around a bit you can see the pictures of the structures they built around their ovens.

blackjack 12-02-2009 06:20 AM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
This is my WFO here in Chester UK. Actually built on the edge of the Old Roman Road that goes through Chester. The garden is still a bit of a building site as you can see.

It uses a precast dome and chimney but the housing and roof are made of reclaimed tile and brick from a building project on the rest of the house.

I would have liked to have extended the roof to make a covered cooking area but we are only a few hundred yards from the City centre so gardens are small. However, the back of the house is only 20 feet away and the entire back wall of the open plan kitchen/diner/living room is a set of glass bifold doors so I make the pies inside and step outside for the couple of minutes it takes to cook. No problem even in the 2c degrees weather we had here at the weekend. The oven is so hot I don't get cold.

The pitched tiled roof is invaluable in the very wet weather we have here (it has rained almost every day for the past two months) and I don't think a dome would hold up nearly as well. For what it's worth I think the pitched roof was quicker and cheaper for our builders to do.

Neil2 12-04-2009 06:21 PM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
"Keeping you oven dry is a very easy task."

I don't think you have ever been to the Pacific Northwest, Neill. Keeping things dry here through the winter is never easy.

nissanneill 12-05-2009 04:54 AM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
a good roof over an oven and protected from prevailing winds from blowing the rain in should suffice.
No I haven't been to the North Weast, is it something special when it comes to rain, snow etc?
I plan on visiting the States when I retire and we go on a round world trip. A couple of months in the US and Canada will see me happy rather than England and Europe.


Neil2 12-06-2009 03:46 PM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
Oregon, Western Washington, Vancouver Island and Coastal BC are very wet, cool and windy in the winter.

Wiley 12-06-2009 06:01 PM

Re: Ovens exposed in rainy climates
There are a few areas of the Pacific Northwest that have weather conditions such that web feet are not needed. Those areas in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mtns and the rain shadow formed by Vancouver Island usually have less than half the rainfall of the areas just outside the shadow.

Here's a link that shows the Olympic rain shadow and if you look in the center of the outlined area you will find where I live. Marrowstone Island average rainfall 18-20 inches

What Is The Olympic Rain Shadow? | KOMO News - Seattle, Washington | F.A.Q.

Wiley (who would like to think he's smart enough to get out of the rain.)

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