Return to Masonry Heater Assoc. Home Page

  Gallery   The Mall   Member Directory   MHA News   Bookstore   Library   Links    

Trip to Slovakia

with Tom Trout

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006
From: TomTrout/BrendaPhetteplace <bphette(at)>
Subject: Trip to Slovakia

Hi Norbert:

Having attended workshops the past three years in Europe, I was hired by
one of the participants to build a heater in their home in Slovakia.
Light weight heaters with thin skins or core kits was all that seemed
available (more common to them) and they became interested in the heavier, custom
built units that has been my product in the USA for the past 25 years.

The client was quite good with her hands and was hiring me to direct the
construction and labor for her.  She laid all the bricks and we worked
like teacher and student.  She is an architect and is hoping to use the
heater and her newly acquired skills to promote more projects of this
type in her business.  We had very good results and I documented the
project with photos and her husband recorded all the work on his computer.

The material was recycled clay brick in a modular of 6" x 12", so with a
double skin the wall equaled a 12" thick heater.  This is more mass than
is the custom in the US, however on my trip to Finland I was shown
heaters, by my mentor Heikki Hyytainen, that this is very common there. 
My Slovak mentor, Vladimir Institoris, who builds light weight heaters, stated the fire in Dec will
produce heat in May.  We also use clay mortar, which provided a very
good bond to the soft brick.  The firebox was made from precision
firebrick and bonded with various refractory mortars.  We tried every
available mortar at hand, so that we could become educated on the
products in supply.  The castable refractory for the back wall of the
firebox and the capping slabs was of the highest quality and ceramic
fiber was used as gasketing and expansion joints, and finally as
insulation on the top of the heater.

As pictured the heater was plastered with a thin coat of rich clay/sand
mortar and then fired with 4 kg of very dry wood.  And not forgetting to
mention the champagne supplied by the next door neighbor.

The project took 10 easy days to complete with me cleaning some brick
early in the process and the bricklayer struggling with some non user
friendly mortars.  On the ninth day we were visited by the current
president of the Slovak MHA and two former presidents of this
organization and the current secretary.  One man was the supplier of the
refractory material and will have my client design him a new future
home, and the others (two of whom I have previously met) were curious.

Discussion came to the fact that I was not certified to build heaters in
Slovakia, and the result of this criticism is that my client is now
enrolled in the arduous program of 12 two day classes spanning one
year, followed by a test for certification.

There are plans for future heaters on the client's desk and hopefully
with a working heater in their home they will generate many more heaters
of this style.



Building the chimney





Expansion joints.


Bag wall and side channel.

Slab with channel

Ceiling slabs

Ceiling slabs

Client and mason

First fire.


masonry heater in slovakia by tom trout

More photos

This page was last updated on December 15, 2006
This page was created on December 5, 2006

Back to:
Return to Masonry Heater Assoc. Home Page