Winter Damage – Again!

The sun came out in the south-east of England yesterday so, like any keen oven owner, I took the opportunity to remove the winter cover from the oven for the first time since last September, 2011. It is now March 2012. So what did I find?

As usual, the rather rudimentary, tarp cover which I use to “protect” the oven has not been particularly effective. If you watch the video below you will see that water has clearly penetrated through. The outer surface of the oven is extremely friable. It seems that the water and frost have broken-down and eroded the clay from the mixture leaving partially unbonded sand, to a depth of approximately 1-2cm. Ouch!

Don’t Panic

OK, it looks pretty bad doesn’t it but apart from that, it’s not really too bad. I fired the oven up straight after shooting that video and cooked a rather splendid roast chicken in it (post to follow).  So it works fine still. Clearly she has seen better days, is in need of some TLC and remedial cosmetic surgery but functionally there are no problems. The oven fired well, it retained heat and nothing catastrophic happened as a result.

What to do?

When I get an opportunity I am going to scrape off a decent depth of the outer layer (I may even go back to the insulation layer) then add a new outer skin using the same sand:clay mixture as before. I will also add a new chimney (I might get hold of an old, clay pipe to put there in its place). Finally, I’m DEFINITELY going to build a decent cover for it this year, before the winter sets in. Mark my words….well…errr…don’t hold me to it!



8 thoughts on “Winter Damage – Again!

  1. Canvas coverings will not help a good solid base and a insulated tiled roof is best.
    Air flow is important, but freezing damp air is not good for the oven.
    Straw is used for strength and insulation, they build houses with the same materials, and they last longer than two years.
    Kind regards Alan Kasz

  2. Mine also didnt fair well over winter. Any advice for a loose ceiling? I can see powdered dirt falling. I tried applying a wet slip coat inside, but it has a hard time sticking to the loose powder. even wetting it doesn’t help. Hope I don’t have to rebuild!

    • Hey Jill, I was just over at your blog reading your adventures and viewing the photos. How amazing and what a great oven!
      As for the loose powder – my advice has changed on this somewhat recently. I say, don’t worry about it. As long as it is not looking like it will collapse (very doubtful), it wont really matter. Brush it out best you can and fire that baby up as normal. In my experience, the odd crack and even hole makes little difference to the thermal capacity of these ovens (particularly when you are firing them to cook pizzas).

      Enjoy it and have fun.


  3. mine was under a tarp, but still didn’t look pretty. So i removed the top layer, back to insulation, and smashed it up. i then milled it between two bricks, and used the kitchen colander to pass the dust into a builders bucket, and give me more lumps to grind on completion. I added a bit of water, re puddled and the outcome was a good mix, which has been re-applied to the outer, and it now looks good again. Positive mornings work.

    • That sounds like a most excellent plan Tony. The grinding part sounds like a pain though. Thanks for the tip though. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and get on with it I think!


    • Try adding some tile grout to the outer layer. Its an old plastering ‘trick of the trade’ for exterior render mixes apparently. I did it on my clay oven that i built last year and it seems to have preserved the outside structure well…

  4. I had luck with a tarp, but put a square piece of plastic (corrugated) underneath to block the weather while allowing airflow.

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