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jimkramer 09-22-2010 01:45 PM

build oven in winter?
I live just north of NYC, where it will soon get chilly at night. I intend to pour my hearth in about ten days, when it should stay above freezing at night. Can I work on the dome and the rest of it during the winter? Can you use mortar if it's above freezing during the day, but below at night? I hope I don't have to wait until April-May to eat my pizza.

Tscarborough 09-22-2010 02:57 PM

Re: build oven in winter?
Technically, you can build masonry in the winter. Practically, it would be tough for a homeowner.

All your materials would need to be kept above freezing, the warmer the better. You would need to be able to be assured that any mortar that you used reached full set before it froze, which would be hard without tenting and external heat.

The simple definition of when it is permissible is: 40 degrees and rising, with no freezing expected within 4 hours of completion. Again, that is assuming that you START with heated materials.

Good luck!

Jed 09-22-2010 08:56 PM

Re: build oven in winter?
Hi Jim,

Yes, you can build through the winter. And Tscarborough is correct that you will have a bit of extra work.

The kicker is that you are working with cement. Cement cures (and gains it's strength) with a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction is activated by water. If the cement product (mortar, concrete, or what ever) freezes before it cures, the strength is gone; the stuff turns to dust.

So, if you do place any cement stuff and you anticipate freezing temperatures, do something to keep the cement from freezing for at least three days. By the time three days has passed, the cement is 'dry' enough that it won't suffer from the freezing temperatures.

I built during the spring, and we had some cold nights. I covered the wet cement with an old moving blanket (propped up to create some air space), a tarp and added a bit of heat from a work lamp - 100 watt incandescent bulb type work lamp.

PhotoPlog - Hearth and Stand

And this system worked fine.

Good luck with your build, and keep moving! you'll be eating pizza before you know it!


kebwi 09-23-2010 09:32 AM

Re: build oven in winter?
I built a Seattle oven through last winter. For example, I placed my keystone on Christmas and there was a really cold week in November for some reason. The way I kept my whole assembly warm (and visible given the dark high latitude winters) was with a halogen work lamp. I just kept it inside the dome turn on through the night after any evening when I laid bricks. When it was below freezing outside it was between 50 and 70F inside. I was quite pleased with the performance.

AndrewL 09-23-2010 07:19 PM

Re: build oven in winter?
On the bright side, cement cures better in cool, (but not frosty), conditions. Hot summer days can also be a real nuisance when trying to work stucco or pour concrete.

jimkramer 09-24-2010 09:52 AM

Re: build oven in winter?

Thanks for the advice. I looked through all the build pics on your site - beautiful oven! If mine is 1/4th as carefully built, I'll call it a victory.

dmun 09-24-2010 10:21 AM

Re: build oven in winter?
Don't forget: this is supposed to be fun. Laying masonry once it gets cold sounds like an exercise in pain.

AndrewL 09-24-2010 10:32 PM

Re: build oven in winter?
Well, as it has been said, "no pain, no gain", or is that "no pain, no pain"?:D

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