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converting victorian fireplace

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  • converting victorian fireplace

    greetings from this fire oven n00b.

    I'm in the fortunate position to be purchasing a early 1900's property that has a large (now redundant) fireplace in the kitchen. Upon walking in I immediately thought: Pizza Oven!

    Fantasy aside, does anyone have any experience with this type of workspace. The only thing I guess I can be reasonably sure of is that there will be space for ventilation!

    So here's what I'm thinking. Either I can buy a pre-fired oven for installation and simply build up an internal plinth (if space is available) - or modify plans for a brick oven.

    My ultimate goal is to replicate the experience or a larger, commercial, oven. I would love to open my own pizza restaurant and hope to spend another year or so getting the end product right. Being able to run a fired oven in-house would be a fantastic start.

    thoughts appreciated.


  • #2
    Re: converting victorian fireplace

    Hey Neil,

    We have had a number of folks retro-fit fireplaces (basic American models) with pizza ovens. The basic idea is to build your hearth where the fireplace was, and connect the pizza oven vent back into your chimney (safely).

    I think there are a couple of issues to think about. First, where fireplaces are shallow, a pizza oven is deep. For example, a small 30" oven needs roughly 40" of depth including insulation -- which sticks out pretty far from the wall where the fireplace was. Still, you can make it into a feature, which is what builders have done.

    Then, you have to work out how to connect the chimney. The vent on a pizza oven is at the front of the oven, not in the back as it is with a fireplace, so you have to angle the chimney back and then make a safe connection.

    Let us know how it goes.
    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces


    • #3
      Re: converting victorian fireplace


      Just a thing or two here. I've worked on quite a few retrofits of 19th C fireplaces, for installs of cast iron inserts, full restoration of cooking fireplaces, old box stoves, etc., etc. The major thing to look to is the integrity of the chimney lining. Often, too often, the chimneys were made with softer "salmon" bricks, those from the outer ring of the kiln. Over a hundred years or so, little wonder, these bricks can deteriorate from heat and might have significant creosote deposits. I'd be fair careful about the condition of the bricks about five feet up. It shouldn't be that difficult to snake a lead up there and video what's going on. You might want to add a liner, the kind of thing used for gas appliances in older flues, or, if there's room, parge any damaged areas (period flues have a tendency to be quite large, depending on the builder). Otherwise, you should be okay. What you really want is a smooth surface, bottom to top, with as few corbelling ledges as possible. Due to the nature of early fireplace design, this wasn't often a priority. What you don't want are cracks that might leak heat or smoke out of the chimney before the top. Just take your time; be careful, but you're in a good spot. Enjoy it.

      "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


      • #4
        Re: converting victorian fireplace

        I question to consider is a couple. First, if less fireplaces, pizza ovens are too deep. For example, a small 30 "oven insulation of about 40" deep - far enough that it sticks to the wall where the chimney was needed. Still, you have a feature that the builders can.
        Victorian houses Learn Purchasing A victorian style house