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Hello from CT! Looking to learn more about our (possibly) 100+ year old brick oven.

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  • Hello from CT! Looking to learn more about our (possibly) 100+ year old brick oven.

    Hi all! I bake artisan breads for our farm stand and am quite lucky to have recently moved to a 300 year old home with an indoor brick oven. I have been researching this oven here and there since I moved and have been trying to find a bit more information on its condition. I've learned a lot from these forums, and figured I might as well post pictures to figure out exactly what I'm working with (short of having a mason come take a look). You all have been an incredible resource so far, and I thank you kindly for that!

    Our house was built in 1730, with an addition built in the mid 1800s. The house has a brick oven next to one of the fireplaces, and it shares a chimney. The brick oven is quite old, but we aren't certain when it was built. We know the history of the home going back to the people who built it (a U.S. Revolutionary War Captiain!), but can't pinpoint when the oven was built. We know from neighbors that it has been there since two owners ago (1950's) and a stone mason who looked at it believed it was around 100 years old, but wasn't entirely sure since the stones used below the hearth could have been repurposed.

    I have a couple of concerns about the condition of the oven. Following recommendations from several sources, I built 5 fires in it this summer starting with a small fire and getting progressively larger. I measured the temp of the ceiling with an IR thermometer and started at 350F with the first fire, progressing to ~650F-700F with the final fire. There are a few cracks that appeared to be superficial on the outer coating of plaster, but these grew wider when the fires hit around 600F. They haven't gotten any larger and contract back to being barely noticeable once the oven cools. After the last two fires, I noticed that two of the hearth bricks have started to turn to powder, and some of the mortar began to flake off on the inside. I brushed some of the mortar inside with my thumb, and it appears to be turning to powder just like those two bricks.

    I did ensure that all of the mortar reached a white color and the bricks went red during the "curing" process. My photos don't reflect this because I made a small fire in it today with the anticipation of cooking bread, but ended up having wood that was still a bit too wet. I know this might not be the correct part of the forum to post this in, but I appreciate any feedback or directions to other resources. Thank you in advance!


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  • #2
    Here is a couple of links. I'm stil searching for one of which your poast reminds me.


    Historic bread oven consultation needed

    Anceint 'bread oven'

    Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build

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    • #3
      My memory is not what it used to be but, I think that stonecutter did a restore on something similar. Anyway, I can't find it. I hope someone with better memory steps up .
      Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build

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      • #4
        Thanks for the info! Those posts have some wicked old ovens as well! I will search around on the forums a bit more for specific info about the deteriorating mortar/brick.

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        • #5
          Interesting oven. It's always nice to see some old historic ovens and wonder "if they could only talk". Anyway, best of luck w/it. W/not being able to see it, it's a tough call on what it would take to partially restore it. Possibly, if the access is decent, you might have someone go inside and grind out and repoint it all. If there are bad bricks, they'd have to be replaced or possibly parged over (?) If any of that kind of work was done, I'd be sure whoever did it knows what they are doing. You'd hate to see all the patchwork start working it's way loose later. Please keep us posted w/your findings and progress.
          My Build:
          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/s...ina-20363.html

          "Believe that you can and you're halfway there".

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          • #6
            I'm going to speak only from my experience with restoring old and modern fireplaces. The dome brick and mortar joints appear to be in pretty good shape. The oven could have been layed in lime mortar. That is what many builders used around that time. If that is the case, the mortar will be fairly easily abraided. There is nothing wrong with that if the dome mortar is not falling out in chunks and the brick are not loose. Some builders were using standard portland based mortar (hydrated lime, portland cement and sand) because it set up faster. If that were the case, I would expect to see some deep gouges in the dome mortar joints as that type mortar would only last about 30 to 40 years in a fire box.. I don't see that in your pics so, you may be able to get by with only replacing some of the floor brick. However, I wouldn't know for sure without physically being there to inspect it. Of course that is impossibe. I do recommend that you get both the oven, fireplace and shared chimney inspected by a qualified mason.

            Also, did you check the tempature of the outer shell while you were firing the oven?
            Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build

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