Running Notes on Annual Meeting & Workshop

Masonry Heater Association of North America

Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, North Carolina,

April 16-22, 2000

--Submitted by Jay Hensley,

Associate Member




Welcome: After we'd taken our places around the big

tables in the library, located in the building across

from our lodge, Wildacres resident manager Mike House

welcomed us. Letting us know how pleased he was to

see our group again (this was MHA's fourth annual

meeting here) he launched into a brief history of

Wildacres Retreat, which covers 1,400 forested acres

atop Pompey's Knob mountain. It's located three miles

from the Little Switzerland post office and about

halfway between Blowing Rock and Asheville.

I. D. and Madolyn Blumenthal bought the property

for $6,500 in 1936. Ten years later they dedicated it

"to the betterment of human relations and interfaith

dialogue." Still in the Blumenthal family, Wildacres

has become a unique and very affordable conference,

meeting, and workshop center for non-profit and

educational groups.

Facilities include two guest lodges of stone and

rough-hewn siding, a similar building housing the

kitchen and dining hall, a library and auditorium, a

mineral and lapidary workshop and pottery studio.

Each guest rooms has a ceiling fan, comfortable beds,

baseboard heat, bathroom, no radio, phone or TV.

Gem and mineral displays attest to the variety of

mines in the area. You can visit mineral and gem

mines nearby, as well as the North Carolina Mineral

Museum, Mount Mitchell (highest peak east of the

Rockies) and Grandfather Mountain. Hiking trails and

rocking chairs beckon, and the view is magnificent.




President Pat Manley opened the meeting. Those

present included Norbert Senf (secretary), Rod Zander

(treasurer), Bev Marois (MHA administrator), Jerry

Frisch, Ernst Kiesling, Albie Barden, Dan Fisher, Gary

Hart, Ben Hurd, Ron Karson, Peter Solac, Walter Kelly,

Martin Pearson, Ben Sotero, Rebecca & Dann Carnes, and

Jay Hensley. (John LaGamba, vice president, Ben Hurd

and Tony Cuoco would arrive soon, while Tim Custer

would join us in another day or two. Tom Trout, who

lives nearby, popped in and out as often as he could

during the week.)

Pat announced a change in the agenda: Ernst will be

giving his presentation this am, continuing this

afternoon with more discussion concerning his

presentation for those who wish to attend. Others can

go down to the bricks and mud area behind the barn and

start preparations for building the bake oven.

Jerry said, "We're in the code now!" and gave everyone

a copy of the big fat Masonry Fireplace sections for

both the IRC and IBC Drafts for 2001. A committee at

Wildacres will go over this and see if everything is

okay, or is some more changes are in order. (We

worked on this at length last year at Wildacres.

Jerry took it from there, working with Jim Buckley,

and got our masonry heater recommendations accepted

for the year 2000 code books, which are revised each


Dann Carnes said that we need to work on the funding

proposal to get an MHA grant, something we had decided

to go ahead with last year at Wildacres.

Rod said we need a subcommittee to complete the MHA

brochure revision, which we worked on at Wildacres

last year. Bev has it in good shape now except for a

final review of the revised copy and a final

determination on heater photos to include.

Pat said MHA is now active in the Masonry Alliance for

Codes and Standards--called MACS--which will give us

some good clout.

Norbert did a brief review of the OMNI clearance

testing of masonry fireplaces, which MHA thinks is not

directly applicable to masonry heaters. We plan to do

our own testing of recommended clearances here at

Wildacres and develop a testing protocol to submit to

OMNI. We should be able to put our findings and

recommendations on line sometime in late June after

the meeting in Sonoma County, California. Norbert

said he can send OMNI a link on the internet.

Pat plans to present a slide show for us one evening

on his recent Guatemala adventure. He was a volunteer

with a team ("Masons on a Mission") that went to

Guatemala and built masonry cook stoves for families

in a poor Mayan Indian village on a high plateau.

There were a few new faces around the table since last

year: John Fisher's father Dan (Pennsylvania), Ben

Hurd (Missouri), Ron Karson (Ontario), Peter Solac

(Minnesota), Wally Kelly (Pennsylvania), Marty Pearson

(Massachusetts), and Tony Cuoco (New York).


Ernst Kiesling's presentation

on Technical Calculations for a Kachelofen

Ernst and his wife Maria own/operate Canadian

Kachelofen, Kiesling Wood Fired Heating System Ltd. in

Blockhouse, Nova Scotia. Ernst designs and builds the

heaters, cook stoves and bake ovens. Maria makes the

unusual, colorful, beautiful and often free-form tiles

that help turn each Kachelofen into a unique work of


Ernst shared with us in great detail the technical

calculations he has worked out for making sure each of

his custom heaters suits the house/space for which it

is designed. Distributing his thick handout around

the table, he said, "This is the beginning of a lot of

calculations we will work out together today. . . The

Austrian Masonry Heater Guild used this system to

start their computer program."

Ernst spent 1,000 hours or more to develop this

system. "It takes time, but it works out fine. All

my heaters are done with these calculations, and it

works, and it will burn clean if you use the right

firewood." He said the fuel must be untreated wood,

dry and the right size. His calculations are for 12

hours, assuming two firings a day.


Some combustion basics

He discussed such things as the drying process,

decomposition into gases and carbon, transformation of

carbon into gas., oxidation of gasses, emissions from

complete and incomplete combustion, high burn

temperature, excess air, residence time of combustion

gases, good mixing, time and turbulence--"To bring

this into our stove, all of this is very important."

Starting the fire. "Start with kindling, burn five

minutes, then put wood on top. I educate everyone,

show them how, all of the process, but they don't do

it! So I get calls at 8 o'clock, saying, 'What do I

but they don't do it. So I get calls at 8 o'clock

saying, "What do I have to do starting the fire?'"

"Closing of the air intake at the right time is

important. Too early, you bring the temperatures down

and have incomplete combustion and a dirty burn. Too

late, and you cool off the fire."



Firebox: Factors to consider and work out are size,

relation to amount of firewood, volume of combustion

gases, length of stay in firebox, height of firebox,

size of its exit opening into heat channels, etc.

Chimney: It needs a certain cross section area,

minimum height, etc.

It should be an interior chimney.

Basic information needed from customer/contractor:

Get all facts possible: average climate temperatures,

location of heater, construction of chimney, height of

ceiling, height of chimney, rooms to be heated (is the

heater for the whole house or one room?). Bricks,

stucco, soapstone, ceramic--what does the customer

want? Bake oven, hot water heater? You need a plan

of the house and measurements (square footage, height

of rooms, etc.), construction, R-value of insulation,

type of windows, etc.

Next comes the design of the heater, technical

calculations, construction details, and realization.


are meant for kachelofens, but you can use/adapt them

for your heaters. No stove should be put in a room

without heat-load calculations. If you undersize or

oversize a stove, you get it all wrong. . .

"I must find out how much heat output is needed for my

stove. I need to know how much heat comes from one

square meter of my stove." (His calculations are all

in the metric system of weights and measurements.)

Someone asked him what about when quick heat is


Ernst said, "If you want quick heat, build a cook

stove and you get quick heat from the cooktop. The

heavy masonry gives heat storage."

As Ernst led the group through compiling all the

information needed, then working out the complicated

and precise calculations for a kachelofen (assisted by

pages and pages of charted numbers and then the graphs

he generated from the calculations), I was lost. . .

but I understood the principles here and realized why

all the figuring was necessary to suit the size and

materials and heat output of the heater to the house

or room for which it is intended.

A few of the points Ernst made:

* We lose at least 15 percent of the heat to make the

draft and that

affects the heat output we need.

* Then we calculate how much wood for one fire to get

this heat

output for 12 hours. We plan to fire one time in the

morning and one time in the evening.

* Another factor is burning time.

"You may need more than one hour

in some cases." Burning time in minutes calculated

for a certain load (26.5 kg) of firewood came to

75 minutes. Then he figured out the volume of

smoke in one second; "This is the firebox volume."

* "We include a gas slot in one of the first heat

channels so gasses cannot accumulate to explode. We

don't use a damper."

* "After figuring out the necessary cross section of

the firebox exit into heat channels, you can make it

10 or 15 percent bigger. But if you make it too big,

that slows down the gas flow."

* Smoke should go into the chimney at a temperature of

at least 150 degrees Centigrade (302 o F) and exit the

chimney at no less than 80 degrees Centigrade (176o


* Each heat channel is smaller than the one before as

the volume of the flue gases decreases. So you figure

out the graduated sizes. If you have a long run (such

as for a channel in a heated bench), treat it as two

channels and gradually reduce its size, which adds one

more reduction.


We ended up filling

in all 23 of the criteria needed in determining the

design and construction details for a kachelofen

heater to suit a particular location, space and

situation. Step by step as Ernst explained it, it all

seemed possible after all.

He said, "Making all these calculations gives

something to someone who inspects our heaters to see

that we have a clean-burning stove."


Discussion on Continuing Education:

Norbert reminded

us of the continuing education requirement of MHA's

Heater Mason Training and Certification Program.

(Within each five year period after certification,

certificate holder must successfully complete an MHA

continuing education workshop and test, or other

relevant professional credential deemed equivalent by

the MHA.) "Today' session with Ernst will probably

qualify and we'll discuss it later."

Ernst said that if there's enough interest and

financial compensation to make it feasible, he would

convert his calculations from the metric system to the

U.S. standard and make sure terminology is right, etc.

Then it could perhaps be offered through the MHA web


We're not sure how to compensate Ernst on this.

Norbert commented that he and Jerry had worked with

John Gulland on writing the heater builders reference

manual, and Gulland was compensated for that. Also, an

MHA version of John Gulland's book on venting was

incorporated after licensing into the heater builder's

manual. Maybe we could do that with Ernst's project,


Several members left for the bricks-and-mud area and

the rest stayed on with Ernst.

Discussion on stucco--Ernst has found a good new one,

with good elasticity. He'll let us know the specifics

when he has tested it further.

Tom Trout was in Munich recently. He told us, "They

would warm the heater and then start to stucco it at

about 100 degrees so it wouldn't stick to the brick

and would be its own shell.

Ernst said he heats the kachelofen up before applying

stucco and if the heater gets some cracks they will be

covered. After it cools he applies the stucco, using

Fiberglas mesh with the first coat.

Tom said he has made whitewash (with lime and sand and

no Portland) and has told people to paint over the

stucco. Ernst suggested putting cellulose fiber in

the paint.

Discussion on expansion joints.

* You can use corrugated cardboard in an expansion

joint. It turns to ash during firing.

* Make the joint size as small as possible.

* Using grog gives less expansion in mortar joints.

Tom said it's more expensive. He likes it, but it

would add $200 to cost of heater.

* When you put a tint in stucco, you can't finish it

with a sponge.--Tom

Ernst's vision for the future

"The main problem to solve is how to convince people

that this is not the dangerous way to heat, as some

people want to tell us. This is environmentally

friendly and this is the best way to heat the house

from the standpoint of health. We need to create the

market awareness. Over the next 40 years we need to

make this change because we won't have oil! "

Peter Solac: "Money is not a problem for my customers,

it's comfort they're after. In Minneapolis, they're

hungry for fireplaces now."

Rebecca: "It's important to educate some of the green

building bunch about masonry heaters, because they

just don't know! . . .

Rebecca: And what about kitchen stoves? Ernst said

they're getting more popular. They're building 25,000

masonry cook stoves a year for customers in Europe.

People can cook, bake and have hot water from them.

Rebecca: Do they usually have another cooking stove,


Ernst: Yes, but they use these masonry cook stoves

not only in wintertime and in cold weather, but also

in a weekend cottage."

Tom said he gets customers with a big house and he has

to tell them he cannot heat it with one masonry

heater. Ernst runs into that same problem.

Discussion on unauthorized firing of masonry heaters:

MHA 200 One example-- During construction,

carpenters and workers over-fired the heater, burning

lots of scrap wood and trash, and caused a house fire.

Earnest reacted vehemently: "Nobody fires my heater

without my permission!"

Rebecca: "Do you make a combination fireplace-heater?"

Earnest: "Yes. People like to watch the fire. I

make the big glass door . . . I make it differently

and call it a high efficiency fireplace. It's a


TUESDAY, Wildacres 2000


Safety Testing Our Heaters

Norbert instructed us on the testing equipment and

testing procedure to be used on the generic heater

constructed by members in the bricks-and-mud area down

behind the barn.

Norbert: Because masonry heaters are not covered in

the building code, testing needs to be done to

determine the safety factor as it affects clearances.

Tulikivi and other factory-made units can get UL

listing, but that's not the way to go for us (custom

builders) because its very expensive to get and keep

the listing.

We've used what we can out of the code. It's

basically up to us--we're the experts--to make the

decisions concerning masonry heaters that will go in

the code.

What we go by and recommend now is 4-inch clearance to

combustibles and some people disagree with that, for

instance Walter Moberg. We're in two of the codes,

referencing ASTM, but there are different levels of

inclusion--we're a "guide" and we need to be a

"practice." The codes don't care about emissions;

they are concerned with clearance to combustibles. So

we need to assure public safety.

What we have is known to be safe construction. Walter

Moberg said UL tests your fire until it's stabilized,

and that doesn't work for masonry heaters.

We'll fire our test heater until we deem it

unsafe--over 117 degrees above ambient on a

combustible surface 4 inches away. That's a concept

we may want to use.

We need to define a heating protocol. UL says keep

adding brands, and that's expensive. We want to use

cordwood as our protocol. The standard fuel load on

the heater we're building is 50 lbs of wood. We

should do from three to five 50-pound fuel loads, one

right after the other, measuring all temperatures at

4-inch clearance. In this known safe construction,

how many times do you need to over-fire it to make it

reach 117 degrees F above ambient? We'll have to pass

the scrutiny of people like UL because we want to

by-pass them.

If we over-fire it by x number of times to reach 117

degrees, then that's the limit and it would be a

reasonable argument to make.

It's a little different from what they do in Europe,

where there's lots of experience with masonry heaters

and lots of history. Their take on it is that if you

screw something up, it's your fault as the user and

the heater builder is not responsible. But in the US

it's got to be idiot-proof. We call it the teenager

protocol. Their folks are gone and the teenagers in

the house really crank the heater up and keep chucking

wood in it--a worst-case scenario.

We have three different thicknesses in the heater

we're testing: standard 8-inch brick wall, 4-1/2

firebrick wall, and 8-inch soapstone. Soapstone is

much more heat conductive. During and after the ice

storm in the northeast, people were heating houses

with masonry fireplaces for days on end and several

houses burned down and several people died. We have

to build the thing to be in the worst-case scenario.

Basically, nobody has any data, so we're being

proactive and we're going to get some data. Tulikivi

does have some data, but it's proprietary.

We don't need a plywood enclosure 4 inches away;

we'll just check the surface temperature of the

heater, with 350 degrees F the maximum surface temp.

If it's hotter than that, it's not really a radiant

heater anymore. Other figures are 230 and 140

(Kachelofen). We run ours (Heat Kit) at 160 or so. On

our test last January, I got a bare core up to 350 by

firing it twice. With a facing on it, it would be

much lower.

Tools for testing:

Norbert: We'll need this point-and-shoot infra-red

thermometer, a scale and cordwood. We'll make a graph

and take readings at different points And we'll use a

moisture meter to test the moisture content of our

wood. . . That's the basics.

He also showed us a combustion analyzer. He said it's

useful to know if it's running any excess oxygen

because that could be cooling your firebox. They use

these in Germany for testing oil furnaces. Norbert

explained how to use it.

In perfect combustion there wouldn't be any oxygen in

the exhaust. Burning cordwood is extremely

complicated, as Ernst said. In a good combustion

system you use 200 to 250 percent excess air. It's

hard to get a clean burn with any less excess air.

Measuring flow: Gas-flow measuring equipment gives a

reading in feet per minute down to 300 ft per minute,

with a high reading of 1,000.

He also showed us a thermo-anonometer, which is

similar to the air-mass meter they use in cars with a

fuel injection system. We can use it to see how much

air the heater is consuming.

Norbert: It's basically a matter of how good your

data is. If you have preconceived notions, it can

affect your reading.

The hottest point is usually going to be on the center

in the back of the heater.

Ernst Heuft (fifth generation heater builder) tells us

a 4-inch clearance is the ideal, but I'm not sure now

that it's true. . . and we can find out with our

testing. So it's better not to have a preconceived


Norbert: We plan to make an ASTM recommendation based

on our testing here. The standard has to get

resubmitted (editorial changes only--it has to be

re-voted on every 5 years or it's dead) and re-voted

on and be good for another five years. Specify a

fueling protocol, that's our next piece of business.

"We're assuming it's a ventilated wall [only air space

between wall and heater] in our testing here at


Tulikivi wants to be in the code, not just UL listed .

. . Because you have to maintain your listing, and

that gets expensive.

Someone could design a heat shield and have it

fabricated--nothing could keep us from doing that, a

double shield.

A factory unit is technically "site built" because

it's assembled on site.

We're testing the firebox outer wall here, because

that's the hottest area.


We've taken all that information from Europe's masonry

heater people on faith, but something they did was

different--smaller heater or small wood--and they said

we had to use grates. Later, when we did testing at

VPI, our heaters with grates didn't test cleaner and

that was an eye opener, and it made us get up to speed

on that.



Administrator's report

Bev Marois: It's been a busy year. We currently have

55 members, which includes 48 full members and 7

associate members, plus 10 people on our new board of


The bookstore at our Web site is doing well. It's one

of biggest accomplishments. MHA members books are

highlighted, and we've made $900 profit from the

bookstore since December. We're selling MHA T-shirts

and color brochure on the web, too.

Inquiries average 35 per month, up from 22 per month

last year.

Eighty-five percent of our leads came by phone from

people who visited the web site. Countryside magazine

out of Wisconsin ran a masonry heater article by Mark

Klein , which brought in 52 inquiries, and now we

have a listing in Countryside that has generated 20

inquiries so far.

Bev handed out some camera-ready repro for everyone.

These included:

* Two generic owner's manuals Jerry developed : "Home

Owners Safety Manual and Burning Guide for Masonry

Cook Stoves and Bake Ovens" (four pages) and "Home

Owners Safety Manual and Burning Guide for Masonry

Heaters" (three pages).

[Editor's Note: Jerry submitted these to us at

Wildacres '99--handouts he was using with his own

customers--and we worked on them some at that time.

Since then he and Bev further revised and edited them

to incorporate many of our suggestions.]

* Jay's "Back-page Freebie" (consumer education

camera-ready feature) on masonry heaters: "The

masonry stoves of Europe gain a strong foothold in

North America," updating one she did a few years ago

while she was editor/publisher of SNEWS, The Chimney

Sweep News magazine. [The stove mason in the drawing

was done from a photo Jay took of Jerry at work.] Bev

said she would copy other useful Back-page Freebies

and send a packet of them to members. These can be

reprinted and used as handouts for clients and /or

prospective-clients. Jay will work with Bev on this.

Treasurer's report

Rod handed out and commented on his detailed

treasurer's report. We went over and discussed

various line items on both his Profit and Loss

Statement for 1999 and his Budget Overview for the

year 2000. In 1999 our expenses added up to $1,315.10

more than our income, but our assets ("total

liabilities & equity") as of April 15, 2000 came to a

total of $18,283.14.

Rod reported a donation of $300 from Jerry. This

earned Jerry a soapstone masonry heater model

(complete with heat channels) hand-crafted by Pat

Manley, who donated it in accordance with our deciding

last year on this as a way to generate more income.

Jerry was the only one to respond to this one-time

offer. Pat presented his mini-heater to him and we

all expressed our appreciation to both of them.


Our web master's report

Norbert reported a total of 200,000 hits on our MHA

site over the course of the year, with about 100

megabyte a day getting downloaded.

People ask Bev for a list of members. It's on the web

site, but people said they didn't see it. So now the

membership list has a "Find a mason" heading. Also,

certified members are featured--click on that and it

takes you to a page listing them.

Web site deal for paid-up members: Send five photos,

good ones, of your heaters and some copy (contact

information, etc.), and Norbert will put up a basic

web site page for you with a link from the MHA web

site and mall. You can also register your site with

an internet server for around $40. (Norbert has his

Heat site registered with a server.) You can

have someone else design a fancier site for you if you

want. You still pay the MHA rate of $10 per month.

There have been quite a few reports of members getting

jobs off their web sites.

Norbert: We have about 60 mgs of information on line.

We can have all the traffic we want. without added

fees. The main thing most MHA masons need is good

photos of their work.


Jerry on ASTM and HPA

Years ago, Carter Keithly (HPA administrator) asked

what he could do for our industry, and I said ,

"Create an MHA caucus for us!"

He did and we went to it for years (during the HPA

shows) , then the chairperson changed and it became a

heater manufacturers caucus and we [custom builders]

got left out. For three or four years we little guys

didn't have a voice. Last summer I asked John Crouch

if we got three guys to add up to $1,000 for one HPA

membership/vote, could we go to the caucus. He said

that, because of a by-laws change, there's a new

caucus for us now, a masonry products caucus. That

means the caucus is no longer a manufacturers-only


So we got a lot of mileage from the HPA show in

Baltimore this year, attending the caucus and also

having the first meeting of our new MHA board of


HPA is supporting us in the codes, too. But we do

have to participate and stay active. We had three

serious meetings at the HPA show this spring.

We're in the ASTM, but every five years we have to

revise and modify and re-issue our parts on masonry

heaters, or it can stay as is and it's renewable. If

you don't do anything within 8 years, it's gone.

John: Now that more of us are involved in HPA,

they'll do more for us. They've been very generous,

have agreed to further testing, engaged OMNI to write

a report from their testing, peer review from Dennis

Jams, etc. MHA members should join the HPA!

When you encompass all these hearth industry companies

under one umbrella, we can get more done, have an

agenda, etc. Every dollar we've invested comes to us

20 times over. We've just tapped into this vein now.

More good news is that HPA membership fees are coming


Dann Carnes. If you join Canadian HPA, that makes you

a member of HPA, too.

Peter: The caucus is not just for masonry heater

people. It includes other masonry products, too. A

portion of the dues goes back to the regionals. John

LaGamba is chairman of the caucus. Remember that the

squeaky hinge gets the oil. There were 25 or 30

attendees altogether, a dozen of them from the masonry

heater industry.

We need a plan of attack for what we want to ask money

for. The money was very easily awarded, due to a

commitment made by HPA to spend a lot of money for

research and testing. John Crouch and Paul Tiegs, both

on our board of advisors, also came to the caucus.

Peter: HPA got state and national money for them in


John : It's good to have the backbone of that huge

organization behind us.

HPA made use of the research report Norbert did up in

Canada for CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing

Corporation), and that helped in the Minnesota

venting recommendations situation. [This refers to

Norbert's published research paper on combustion air

needed for a masonry heater in a tight house, without

outside air provided, and whether or not burning the

heater depressurized the house. It didn't.]

Norbert: Another ventilation regulation crisis is

happening in Vermont and we need to get on it. We

need someone there who can speak to the subject.

They're going to be looking at their ventilation code,

talking about sealed combustion and using a fan,

fixing one mistake with another. . .

Board of Advisors meeting

Jerry: Mike Van Buren from HPA [also on our board of

advisors] was chairman. They talked about codes,

developing our own masonry heater standard acceptable

in the marketplace at code level. They also discussed

the fueling protocol--brands or cordwood., etc. And

they recommended running a survey of masonry heater

owners, how they use them, also taking a look at the

methods and results of past testing of heaters and

what we've learned.

We should develop a list of customers, good names,

and HPA will hire a survey company. I think we'd

have input into questions on the survey.

Bev: Give me between one and five names of good

customers for the survey. I'll send an e-mail to

remind you.

Dann: We may find customers are over-firing, and can

take that into consideration.

Rod's Report on ASTM Meeting

ASTM met in Toronto last week. Who was there from

MHA? Norbert, Rod, Jerry, John LaGamba, Gabrielle

Callender, and Ron Karson: plus Mike VanBuren and Rick

Kurkeet from our Board of Advisors. Former member Tom

Stroud was also there.

Rod: We reviewed the ASTM document as it pertained to

masonry heaters and updated it. There was consensus

that it's in our interest to update and get the

document re-accepted, so we went through and did all

the editorial changes. Three issues need more

substantial work--we reviewed and tabled them, leaving

them as they were in the original. Rick will submit

our edited version to go to ballot to be re-accepted.

These three other things our group needs to get busy

on: (1) Reworking definition of what a masonry heater

is; (2) Finding out what moving from a "guide" to a

"practice" involves; (3) Creating a testing protocol

to come up with some definitive answers that can be

substantiated with numbers to address safety issues.

Next ASTM meeting will be two years from now in


Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards (MACS)

Rod: Next MACS meeting will be the first week in

October and that's the best place for those who are

also ASTM members to meet again and become more

involved. It costs $65 per year to join ASTM, which

gives you a vote--a very worthwhile investment. You

can go as a non-member, you just can't vote. You get

to choose one book of standards free if you join, and

that's worth more than the membership fee. They also

have a newsletter. You can give those to an engineer

friend if you don't read them. Five of us from MHA

were at the ASTM meeting, which is a good showing.

MACS is a good outfit for us to join and well worth

the money. At code hearings, MACS works on all sorts

of issues relating to masonry. There is a united

front and few floor arguments. It helps to be part of

a larger proposal and we can get mention of masonry

heaters. Only organizations can join as a voting

member. You can join as an associate member for about

$200, but no voting right goes with that. It carries

political weight for us to join.

Jerry: I think we're going to get a lot of mileage

from joining MACS.

Rod: Already I sense a shift in attitude, like, "Hey,

you finally joined the club!" Before, we relied on

our friends there to keep us posted.

More about testing heaters

John: Are we going to work out a fueling protocol for


Norbert: Yes. We'll get a higher burn rate with

cordwood. . .

Rod: It will be very helpful to us to see what

happens when we over-fire the heater. Michael Van

Buren said HPA does have money for a testing protocol.

So this is the preliminary testing to relate to that.

Mike wanted to know if MHA could also put some money

into testing, and I said we'd put in a nominal amount.

Norbert: We'll all get up on the learning curve from

what we do here. We can put forward a proposal on

what we think a safety test should look like. Then

they can take that to a lab to consider our work. We

may over-fire a unit three to five times and reach the

heat limit. We've got a good product, we can afford

to take the high road. We need to find out for

ourselves what we consider to be safe.

John: We need to get to Mike before the funds

disappear. Could we be ready Thursday to make a


Norbert: If we start a fire in the heater tonight and

try it out, we could start our fire in it tomorrow

for our testing. If we have all our testing done by

Thursday, we should be able to put a recommendation

together on Friday.

John: Then maybe we can tell Mike , "We'll come to

you by such and such a date."

Norbert: If we can do it here it's great, while we

have everyone here. Otherwise, the process gets to be

e-mail back and forth and it's hard to move forward if

there's any disagreement. If there's disagreement

here, we can work it out usually and walk away with


Jerry: We're now in IBC and IC.

We can shirttail on the back of what's already done.

That way we can get in with the least resistance and

it would be a back-up, because right now we're

vulnerable by only being a "guide" in ASTM.

There could just be a statement added, "except for

masonry heaters, which etc." Subtle things like that

will show the code does recognize masonry heaters over

and above the ASTM. Then we could get Jim Buckley to

review it. He's an advocate for us already.

Jerry: I want help from you guys on where we can

insert things [in the IRC and IBC drafts for 2001]

that will help us.

[Editor's Note: Subsequently, Rod, Jerry, Dann and

Peter spent about four hours one afternoon on the

porch of the lodge, going over both codes and

red-lining areas where we should be able to add stuff

and reference ASTM for the exceptions. In the next

stage, Jerry will work all that through with Jim






Discussion on where to meet next year

Albie described a place in Western Massachusetts,

Sirius in Shootsbury, that's set up for this kind of

meeting. He thought we'd like it.

John told us about a rustic place in Toronto similar

in some respects to Wildacres, "but just a grade above

camping": bunkroom, three beds to a room, center rec

room, meeting rooms, trails between buildings, $60 per

day room and board, communal bathrooms, and they heat

with wood, They run courses there and teach straw

bale construction. It would be a compromise in

comfort, but they're receptive to us building a heater

there and would trade it for our accommodations, which

MHA would get the money for. It's 45 minutes from the


A lot of people go through there who would be

interested in what we're doing. It's a good place for

an inside heater.

We could shuttle to and from the airport with John

LaGamba, who lives nearby. Also, there are alternate

accommodations nearby.

Norbert called it an ecology retreat center. There

are masonry heaters in some houses in the area. area,

Norbert has one of his in a different type of

sustainable house that we might be able to visit.

Albie: I like the concept of building something to

leave there. Wherever we go, it's the best way for

connections among individuals.

Rebecca--Weren't we talking about building an oven

here at Wildacres?

Pat said Philip (Blumenthal) didn't know where the

bake oven would go. Also, they just had a complete

change of kitchen staff and he hadn't sounded him out

yet and he didn't want to push it at that point.

Pat said he spoke with one of the chefs this morning,

who thought it was a great idea. I invited him to

come down to bricks-and-mud area today and he said he

would. . . A swap option might be available.

John: We couldn't give it away this year!

Rod: Talk to Mike (House) about the site. Maybe we

could schedule it as a separate workshop and use it as

a fund raiser and for instruction.

Dann Carnes said he likes the idea of a separate


Peter: Some of us could bring our staff, new masons

in the company.

Rebecca: It would bring in some money and possibly

some new members.

Pat likes the separate workshop idea, too. Peter

suggested having several workshops in different

regional locations. .

Norbert: For any of this to happen we need someone to

step forward to take charge of it. That's what the

success of it depends on. Or we need a game plan

fleshed out enough so Bev can do all the organizing

with someone else assuming responsibility for it.

Peter: Manufacturers could maybe help sponsor a

workshop--there's the potential for their getting more

dealers from the workshop, and they'd have someone on

salary to work on it. Also, the manufacturers could

donate materials and we'd save that money. John said

"That's a very simple process."

Albie said that in his workshops he's paid by the

owner for building the heater and by attendees for

teaching them how and giving them hands-on experience.

If it's brick, okay, if it's stone you're asking for

trouble. He might be interested in running a workshop

for MHA,

Albie warned that things don't always go smoothly:

"We did a nightmare workshop in hurricane weather,

cycling people through." He has found six to be a

good number. If you have several very skilled masons,

and several owner-builders, the teacher can lay down

his trowel. When you get up to as many as 10, it gets

pretty heavy, but it can be done. You get maximum

learning from custom building a heater from scratch. .

.you're also exploring masonry heating from its early

history. . . and that all helps create a design


Local vocational schools can play host, another


With a large group, the pain of diamond saw use can be

spread out--and that's the critical tool to


Jerry: We need to put our heads together to create a

generic heater sanctioned by the MHA to use in a

workshop--something everyone needs to know how to do.

Albie: We need to line up our ducks so everything's

in place at the right time. That's not easy--clients

cancel, etc.

John : It would help if could have two workshops at

one location in tandem.

Most of Bev's inquiries are masons who want to come to

a workshop and NOT come to the annual meeting. If

they're serious about masonry heaters, they'll want

to join MHA and also go to a workshop.

Tony Cuoco said he'd rather not have come to a

meeting, but once here he decided that's been good,

too. He did expect more bricks and mud experience

this time.

Rebecca: We need to provide an opportunity for

someone to get into the craft without being hit with

regulatory stuff and problems MHA is facing.

Norbert: We could have a workshop going on at the

same time as the annual meeting. Or Jay is building

house in Kentucky--when she knows the schedule we

could plan a workshop there.

Rod: Or have our annual meeting here, then have a

workshop at the Toronto place where we do the trade.

I don't like the idea of combining the two--I see them

as two different needs. Some of the members have been

involved over a 15 year period--with process of

discussion and hands-on and experience out in field

and contacts. . . This facility with the comfort,

beauty and ease of being here is very conducive to

getting our business done. It didn't happen when we

met with HPA. We've streamlined the business aspect

of it, and MHA work is being done on an ongoing basis.

This process is now happening year 'round and the

number of people doing it has increased--six members

at ASTM, five at MACS.

I see the need for a workshop being expressed from

many different directions. It's just not going to

work very well in combination with our business

meeting, so let's keep these separate. Sweep training

last year didn't work; nobody signed up. We've had

hands-on workshops every year here.

Norbert: The big decision is where do we go for our

meeting next year.

Mike said Wildacres may do a project of building

cabins and put a masonry heater in each one. If we

don't come back here, we may lose that opportunity.

Albie: As a workshop teacher, I would not like to be

in competition with meetings. And something built for

hands-on knowledge should be permanent. The center of

someone's home, attention to workmanship, pride of

accomplishment, the heart of the craft. . .Yesterday

we did a quick-and-dirty masonry core, while Pat was

giving incredible attention to detail with the bake

oven and it just killed me to think of it being torn


Motion on the table, and seconded: That next year's

meeting be held here.

Albie These (annual meeting and workshops) are two

different, not competitive, tracks.

Dann: Thanks to those who brought ideas for other


Dan Fisher: I apprenticed with Albie, then you guys

turned John (my son) on. He likes having the meeting

and workshop both here.

Vote: Motion carried, (to have annual meeting 2001 at

Wildacres; only one opposed (Peter).

Pat: Further discussion on workshops is tabled 'til

tomorrow. We need to do brick and mud. Encourage

discussion in the hall and bring it up later.

Volunteers needed for today's testing

Norbert: We're trying to run two tests today, so we

have to sort things out and get started before lunch.

Volunteers needed: Basically, it's taking temperature

readings every half hour at eight or nine points on

the heater, and fueling -- weigh 50 lbs., know the

moisture content, and measure circumference of wood

for four consecutive fuelings.

Use Jerry's thermometer and mine to get two different

readings. It's best to have certified heater masons

volunteer so they can earn one continuing-ed point.

Norbert: I'm setting up a spread sheet. Someone needs

to volunteer for data entry. And someone to take

stack temperature. Volunteer for one day--the test

will run 'til 8 or 9 pm.

We'll train someone how to use the Thermo-anonometer.

Anyone else (besides the "official" volunteers) should

feel free to take all the readings you want.





Election of Officers

Report of election committee: Pat (president and

Norbert (secretary) are declining re-election.

Slate: Jerry Frisch for president and Gary Hart,

secretary; Rod Zander again for treasurer and John

LaGamba again for vice president. No nominations from


Dann: Jerry's always at the HPA caucus, the ASTM

meeting, this past year at HPA--which has all made a

tremendous difference for us. He's there for the

building codes, etc. His involvement is very valuable

to us now and in the years to come. We wouldn't have

joined if it hadn't been for Jerry. Gary's a big

asset, too, also John LaGamba.

Jay: I met Jerry in the mid-80's when he did a

workshop at a sweep convention, have had a lot of

contact with him and worked with him on various

things through the years, and I think the world of

him. He's knowledgeable and energetic, and he always

come through for you.

Motion to accept slate made, seconded, voted on:

Unanimous acceptance of slate. Norbert remains as web

master, will also be on executive committee as a


Continue testing today

Norbert: We continue testing, taking three sets of

measurements-- the back 4-1/2 inch wall and the two

8-inch walls.

Norbert's comment on the testing so far: On the

second day we got much lower surface temperatures, due

to the wind. Because the test was outside, the

temperatures from the first day might be higher is the

test were done indoors. On the other hand, the wood

was very dry, which would give you higher temperatures

than with standard 20 percent moisture content wood.

So, they probably balance out.


Norbert: Our main test will be to define a protocol

and argue that it's better than the UL protocol. We

need to determine the fuel load for different heaters,


Today we could repeat what we did yesterday, to beef

up our results, but I think we should burn five loads

today--it's useful to know if the brick passes at five


Rebecca and Ron took oxygen readings yesterday.

Norbert: The first load needs a whole whack of air;

the next loadings need much less oxygen--excess air.

Excess air just moves through the load and get heated

up. Excess air is very important in determining


The European method of determining efficiency is

different from ours. Their 85 percent would translate

to 72 percent U.S. We could conceivably get that up

to 80 percent US.

Peter said that in using his heater, he does a fuel

load and lights it off, then adds a little wood now

and then to have a fire for viewing.

Albie said he has had heaters fail in a year or two

and found out the people were burning the heaters

around the clock--"The real worst case scenario does


Peter: Maybe in warning, we should say, "If you need

protective equipment to reload, you're burning it too

long, too hot."

Someone said that OMNI tested a fireplace with brands

for 12 hours and you could put it right up against

combustibles. [Norbert's Note: Jim Buckley has a

report on his web


Norbert: The retailer or heater mason should tell the

owner the size load of wood he should use, and not to

heat the house with the heater until the house is

finished. Otherwise, there's huge heat loss and

they're apt to over-fire the heater.

"When abusing your heater, be sure to use the proper

protective clothing."--Norbert.

Norbert: Once we get the data, I'll get a photo

report of meeting and the data--we can call it a Lopez

Lab field trip--on our MHA web site.

We can tell OMNI we have certified people able to run

this test.

Also, we need data to back up the heat storage

capacity and conductivity of different building and

facing materials.

Two teams from yesterday will train the new teams for

today to do fueling and surface and flue gas readings.


(which included a wonderful afternoon-into-evening

pizza party to try out Pat's pizza oven)



Dealing with various problems and complaints

Pat told about a serious complaint called in to Bev by

one of Steve Bushway's customers. He read the

following letter from Steve: [Editor's Note: Steve

has given us permission to post his letter on the MHA

web site in the Members' Lounge and said he would

appreciate feedback.]

Dear Pat: I'm sorry I'm not there to discuss this in

person and enjoy everyone's company and the rockers on

the porch.

This past year has been a very difficult one for me,

professionally. I had a locally-built Alan Scott

commercial bread oven arch collapse last fall. In an

attempt to speed along the process, the owner

installed heaters to cure the oven and they were at

least 150 degrees F when the concrete cladding was

placed, so it never achieved proper set. The owner

blamed me, collected $17,000 from my insurance and had

one of Alan's guys rebuild it. It was a very

stressful experience for everyone.

Only weeks after the oven claim was settled, I had a

just-built heater facade develop hairline stress

relief cracks, I believe from fitting the loading door

too tight. Evidently, the owner, who I developed no

rapport with during the job, had complaints that he

never confronted me with, but instead voiced to Bev.

So, when this developed, instead of calling me, he

called the building inspector and has had a structural

engineer to make an evaluation. Evidently, he has

lost faith in me and is calling the whole job into

question. Almost seven weeks have passed and I

haven't heard from this client or his engineer. I

hope this is an indication that he has been assured

that the problems he sees are not systemic or

structural and that he did an extreme overreaction.

Time will tell.

Needless to say, I've been internalizing these mishaps

to death during the past few month, trying to

understand the lesson in it. Rather than bore you

with the details, I'd like to summarize some reasons

why I had these things happen.

Lack of Communication was an underlying problem in

both cases. When I am faced with a quiet or

distracted client with whom I need to communicate, I

don't tend to take the initiative to express a request

or concern, or draw out a concern I may suspect is in

the client's mind. With the heater job, I allowed

myself to take the easy way and not engage the client

on signals I was getting that everything wasn't well.

I would remind members that when they get

internet-generated referrals, the prospects may be

coming from a totally different place,

psychologically, from word-of-mouth ones. Don't

assume your reputation precedes you with these people.

All kinds of personalities want heaters: suspicious

[people] as well as trusting ones.

It's easy not to talk about our mistakes. I'm sorry

that in addition to learning from mine, I feel it

necessary to square them with the Association. I am

staying with the integrity and credibility that I know

I have to get past this, and am trusting that I will

be all the better business man, as well as a more

careful craftsman, as a result of this experience.

As a former chimney sweep, I know that State and

National Chimney Sweep Guilds have to deal with

consumer complaints. My position was to take those

complaints seriously. I never considered they might

come from extreme individuals. Until you come across

such a customer and get caught in the web, you just

don't think it will happen to you.

I don't know what the answer is for the MHA regarding

complaints against members. They should certainly be

kept track of. I would be happy to share more details

of my experience with anyone who cares to.

--Sincerely, Stephen Bushway

Pat: Bev has gotten complaints from people from time

to time and right now we have no structure to deal

with complaints. It's a good idea to set up some path

of action when these things come up.

Albie: Steve has contacted me about both jobs. The

second one is still unresolved. Outside "experts" are

being called in. A gifted mason I know (is on his way

now to look at the heater in question. I have not

gone down, but am hoping to do so.

It would be appropriate to put in place some kind of

an understanding that we (MHA) would jump on these

situations when requested. Perhaps some of our

MHA-certified members would be willing, as a peer, to

go to a problem site in their region and give some

feedback. That still hasn't happened on this job, but

might be the thing that would break the impasse. I'm

also concerned, because that was an Albie core. Steve

feels what happened was a result of his workmanship,

not of the components.

A member in trouble could call Bev and say, "I need

help," and members in that region would be on the

ready to respond. When a situation drags on and

reaches impasse, it gets out of the hands of the

original people.

Another complaint was called in to Albie about a job

Jerry did. Jerry said the

firebrick failed and the brick company is going to

take care of it.

Albie: "The client and the builder can both feel

isolated. I think this thing of Steve's desperately

needs a job site visit and a meeting with the building

inspector. Steve is barred from the site."

Ben Hurd: The most important thing is to keep the

attorneys out of it and get it settled fast. It'll

never get better.

Rebecca: What did you do, Bev?

Marty: First thing, Bev should contact the MHA member

in question.

If it was a job of mine, I would want to know right

away. One of my clients called the main office at

Tulikivi, instead of calling me, and it got back to me

from a Tulikivi dealer. I called the client, who said

a sweep had come and there was a bird's nest that

caused the problem and it's all been taken care of.

Dan Fisher: I don't appreciate the fine print in a

contract, but maybe we could write into a contract

that if the need arises for mediation, MHA becomes a

part of that team.

John LaGamba said that when he spoke to Steve's

client, who thought his heater was a Temp Cast, he

suggested the man take photos and send them to MHA.

We can review the picture and maybe conclude


Some customers are just a pain in the butt, but

sometimes you have a situation that really is a

disaster. At Temp Cast we feel that we have a moral

obligation here. One way is not to refer anyone. Is

there a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy? A

continuing situation looks bad for the industry.

A customer can see a stress crack and go ballistic.

Peter: We're not trained as arbitrators, but we have

to define our level of support. We need to keep a

record of complaints on individual members, but it's

not up to us to resolve those complaints. We can offer


Norbert It should be dealt with right away, but

we're a small association with limited resources, so

there's just so much we can do. In 20 years I've had

problems with three clients, always an older retired

man, and I found I was not to blame myself.

"At one time a lot of masons were making masonry

heaters, but stopped because of callbacks."

Read our occupational analysis of what a heater mason

should do and relations with the client is right up

there in importance.

Bev. A couple of complaints have been due to stove

mason and client relationships.

Rebecca: Ask them to put the complaint in writing,

maybe have a form they can fill out so they have a


Norbert: Ask for photos, a written description, and

ask if they've talked to the mason. Then here it is

in writing in a certain format and with photos. It

eliminates a lot of phone calls.

Then we, the whole membership, need feedback on what

happened, and we can learn from that. You can learn a

thousand-dollar lesson--why did an arch collapse, why

did a heater have a stress crack, etc.

We could have a data base in the lounge on callbacks.

We may not need to identify the mason and brand of


Peter: We could put the technical problem on the

lounge and start a private discussion group.

Norbert: Bev is the right person for the initial

contact on a complaint, not one of us. We need to

have it filtered.

John: Recurring complaints can be the big problem--we

may need to have an ethical and technical review.

Albie: Refine the response process and put it to a


Rod: A few of us in committee should work on it, then

present it to the membership later today. I move that

this be tabled and have a subcommittee work on this.


But we did discuss this a bit further, deciding first

of all that the complainer has to put it in writing

before Bev gets back to him. The procedure might go

like this:

1. Ask complainer if he/she has contacted the heater

builder. If not, suggest/insist they do so.

2. Explain what MHA's procedure is--fill out a form.

send photos, etc.

3. Bev calls the heater mason right away, as soon as

she gets off the phone, and then faxes or mails the

form to the complainer.

4. As soon as she receives it, she send a copy of the

written complaint to the mason, also to the executive

and ethics committees. (Do we have an ethics


Bake oven directions in the bread book need revising

Jerry: Directions for building the bake oven in the

bread book are chancy--it will fail. If we're

selling this book at our web site book store (Bread

Builders Book--Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens by

Daniel Wing and Alan Scott), are we sanctioning it?

Rod: We nee to inform the authors of our opinion so

they can make a correction.

Jerry volunteered to do this.

Ron Karson wanted to know if we've expanded Bev's

duties as an employee. Rod answered that Bev is a

subcontractor and her contract is reviewed


A problem with some former members

Rod: Some ex-members are still using the MHA logo.

We need to state our policy on misuse or abuse of logo

and take action. Maybe a form letter that says cease

and desist or renew your membership.

Let's look at how HPA and NCSG handle the problem.

So, someone asked, should they send back their MHA

jacket and T-shirt???

Motion made, seconded and carried that a

cease-and-desist order be sent to certain individuals.

Gary noted that it's often easier to re-up than

reprint business cards, checks, stationary, etc.

Books we might order

Norbert: Tom Trout picked up Kachelofen Bau, a German

book that details putting together a kachelofen. It's

a step-by-step illustrated how-to-do-it. It's Very

well done and costs about $60.

Albie: Make a request for a discount purchase if

enough people are interested.

A show of hands on who would buy it determined that we

should probably order at least 10 copies.


o o o

[Conversations during break: Albie and Pat discussed

leaving the bake oven at Wildacres. Thomas, the chef

who made pizzas for us yesterday, is very excited at

the idea and said he would bake in it. We need to ask

Mike, who may not be back till tonight, and a decision

has to be made. If we leave it, we need to insulate

it and finish it off so it will last a year.]

[Another side discussion between Jay and Bev: We

should bring along our brochure and other handouts on

masonry heaters to Wildacres next year to give to

other guests, so we're not educating them about

heaters it on just a one-on-one basis as we're doing

now. They've shown a lot of interest.]

o o o

Norbert reported on preliminary results of testing:

[Editor's Note: More detailed results are online at]

Norbert: We got very different results on the two days

because of the wind factor. So we're skewed by the

wind, but still have test points relative to each

other. We need to run a test indoors."

A test heater was built with three different firebox

wall sections. The rear wall was 4.5-inch thick

firebrick. The right wall was a code wall with

4.5-inch firebrick and a 4-inch clay brick facing.

The left wall was 8-inch soapstone.

The heater was fired with four back-to-back loads of

50 lbs hardwood at 14 percent moisture content The

maximum outside surface temperatures on the firebox

were as follows

4.5-inch firebrick: 475 degrees F

Code wall: 210 degrees F.

8-inch soapstone wall: 410 degrees F.

The UL-127 temperature limit for adjacent combustibles

is 117 degrees F above ambient. From previous

testing, it appears that, for a large heater, this

temperature will be reached when the heater surface

temperature is approximately 350 degrees F with a

4-inch clearance.

We've got some data, let's get it on the table. I'm

not interested in writing a report and then keeping it

secret. We can put it on the Lopez labs page, and not

make it public for awhile. [Editor's Note: The

issue of whether or not we got enough consistent data

to make a testing protocol recommendation is still up

in the air .]

Norbert and Jerry did some testing earlier in Jerry's

shop. And it's possible to set up an automatic

testing system.

Norbert: We could conclude there's no problem with a

code firebox with 4 -inch lining and total 8-inch wall



MHA Brochure Revision

Bev: We're going to finish it this summer. . . I have

it on my computer, and the printer is ready to go. We

need just a few changes in copy, and we have some

photos to go through--we're discussing Gene Hedin's

heater for the cover, and also Rod's. I need a few

volunteers to work with me on this.

Rebecca, Jay and Albie volunteered.


Albie: Perlite (for insulating the bake oven) is

available at Spruce Pine and Vermiculite available at

Marion if we need to finish up the bake oven to leave

it here.

Workshop committee??

Pat: We need to form a committee to look into having

a workshop--in Toronto, at Jay's house, etc. between

now and the next annual meeting.

Albie: People come to us one or two at a time on a

paid basis. I can offer this on-the-job training to

my fellow MHA members for $450 tuition and split it

with MHA.

As for Toronto: I'd be ready to donate a week of my

time to lead a workshop if my expenses are covered.

It should be site built, generic, not from a kit, but

we can talk about kits. And it ought to be for a

non-profit organization, truly a service MHA is doing.

Pat: Before everyone leaves, square away your

finances with Bev.

Dann: I'm going to call Steve and thank him for

sharing his letter.

Pat: We'll clean up this afternoon and either work on

the bake oven to make it last, or tear it down. We're

going to try to leave the bake oven for the staff to

use and hopefully fall in love with over the next

year. Mike may be back this afternoon and we'll run

the idea past him. [Editor's Note: No luck on

leaving the bake oven at Wildacres , due to its

location interfering with trailers and trucks coming

and going behind the barn, so it had to be


I want to thank everybody for the experience of being

your president for the past six years. I thoroughly

enjoyed it and look forward to Jerry's term in office.

Norbert' showed us a computer "slide show" of his

photos on this meeting, including the view from

Pompey's Knob, scenes from the dining room, and action

down at bricks-and-mud.