The winter schedule where Attila works has come to an end. This means that he will work longer hours until the snow returns next autumn. This weekend was our last opportunity, until well into April, to visit the little house in the city. Friday we prepared the country house with three full firings in the masonry heater, to carry the heating system through until our return Sunday night. When we left it was about 34 degrees in the living area, and Mist was seeking a cool place to sleep at the periphery of the room, near the exterior walls and windows.
The drive down was uneventful, the roads clear and dry, the sky cloudy, dark descending slowly. How wonderful it was to watch the ice and snow, the roadside mountains of white, shrinking by the mile; winter further loosing its grip with each passing mile.
We arrived to a clear dry driveway, drove right in, parked and unloaded the car. There were no unpleasant surprises in the house, all was as we left it last.
Saturday we spent shopping in the nearby city, restoring our supplies, taking our list to stores that we haven’t been able to visit since last November.
Terra and Lares dropped by for a visit in the afternoon. They had spent the morning starting their seeds indoors, and planned on tackling the dismantling of the ancient and unsalvageable chicken coup at the back of their property.
Sunday morning was a surprise. We awoke to steely, dark grey skies and significant snow fall and accumulation. Apparently winter crept stealthily after us, down the road and across the many miles, to take us by surprise Sunday morning. The weather system came up from the south, not finding its way to our country house in the north.
Terra and Lares had to alter their plans due to the snow. Instead of demolishing the chicken coop, they tore two layers of carpet from the stairs leading the second storey of their house, and removed most of the glued on underlay as well. It is looking good!
The snow at the little house in the city would soon depart, we knew that even as it fell on Sunday morning. The snow at the country house will linger for many weeks, possibly into the month of May this year. That is my prediction; I am keeping my expectations low, and hoping that my predictions prove to be outrageously pessimistic.
Our drive home began with browns and blacks and grey skies, slowly evolving into white and white and eggshell blue skies. The roads were dry. As we neared home I looked out across a frozen lake, to see a pickup truck with three people standing in the back, towing a huge fishing hut across the ice. The deadline to remove the fishing huts from the ice is March 31, tomorrow. Soon warmer weather will be here!
The temperature inside the country house, when we arrived back, was 17C! The last firing was at 3 p.m. on Friday last; the masonry heater then kept the house comfortably warm from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. Although there is still snow everywhere we look, piled high, stretching endlessly into the distance, even though it seems like nothing has changed, it has, it has changed. We can leave the house and the pipes will not freeze, the electric bills will not soar through the ceiling, and Mist will be a calm cat when we arrive home, happy just to have her bowl of fresh milk and good brushing.
Oh happy day!!!!
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 30 March 2014
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Wind: W 11 km/h
“Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.”
1905 – 1984
Maggie, I think this long winter is indeed finally breaking up. After a chill weekend, we may reach 80F this week-at which point I’ll definitely want to send you some of our warmth.
80F!!!! And here I am, thrilled almost out of my mind with excitement, at the prospect of a daytime high of 3C (about 37F), LOL. Everything is relative. I hope it cools down at night for you Wendy. Someday Attila and I may travel to warm climates, bringing our snow clouds and storms with us wherever we go, bringing the bright white to those who really need it!
My first thought regarding the masonry furnace was the safety of it burning in your absence. My home (not by choice but far cheaper than propane) is electric. It has four zones, which helps. I suppose I’m naïve to think there’s no danger in leaving my home to electric heat in my absence. Is yours an open flame – I guess that’s what concerned me.
Reenie, masonry heaters do not work like wood stoves or fireplaces. They are built with refractory cement, which holds the heat long after the fire has gone out. It works by placing the firewood in the fireplace, 50 pounds of wood, and burning it full throttle, with the air supply and chimney damper wide open until the burn is complete, and no flames remain. Then the air supply and damper are closed, and the heat stored in the refractory core begins to release the heat into the room. There is more heat emanating from the heater hours after the burn, than there is during the burn. In this way there are but two, sometimes three burnings a day, each lasting a few hours, that is only a few hours with open flame.
We did three burns on Friday. When we left no flames remained in the heater, just grey ashes. The heater then continued on, without fire in it, to release heat for the next two days.
The masonry heater is very old technology, incredibly practical, incredibly efficient, incredibly labour intensive.
So no danger in leaving the masonry heater for days at a time, no danger at all; except maybe -37C weather with which it cannot keep up and the pipes might freeze! Which is why I am so ecstatic that we can now leave it to heat the house for several days!!!
I get exhausted just reading what you and Atilla have to go through just to stay warm! Like Reenie, I had worried a bit, too, about your leaving the house for 2 days with the heater going, but you’ve explained nicely how it all works and my worries have been alleviated — thanks! I think of Mist there alone for two days and, of course, I worry over that too… my puppies would go insane if no one were home for two days! But they are spoiled rotten little souls – I admit it!
I also thought the heater burning alone for two days was going to lead to some spectacular conclusion. I don’t leave my gas fireplace burning even an hour when gone. Of course, it’s almost always 60 degrees F here or better.
Tom the word “fireplace” does imply open flame. The fact that this heater will heat for two or more days, with no open flame or fuel consumption, is amazing really. This technology is simple, very safe, and effective. I wish we had a masonry heater at the little house in the city as a backup heating system. In Europe they built small units, one in each room sometimes, and it did not take much fuel to keep a room warm.
This is the kind we have installed: http://www.tempcast.com
There are other manufacturers, and many professional masons who can construct custom masonry heaters. They are far safer than wood stoves, but need to be treated more carefully, as they need to be cured for a week at the beginning of heating season.