Wood Light/Wood Heat

Fire, I'll take you to burn. Fire, I'll take you to learn.

So here we are, Fall 2012, and although we’ve had the masonry heater in since December 2010, we haven’t been able to fire it up – no chimney! I was determined that this fall we would be able to set fires inside the house (and not have to call the Otter Lake Volunteer Fire Department).

Eric from Solid Rock Masonry had built up a brick chimney to just below the second floor. We thought it would look kind of neat (and be easiest) to switch to metal chimney from the top of the brick chimney all the way through the ceiling and the roof. The first step was a transition plate from masonry to Class A chimney pipe:

Silver Tube Dance Party

Class A chimney is double-walled with an insulating blanket between the walls. It’s safer and requires less distance from flammable materials than single-wall stove pipe. Another reason we went with metal pipe is that the chimney goes through the floor joists holding up the second floor, then through the roof rafters, and these two things are not quite lined up at Nerdwood (it’s rustic, OK?). Thus, we had to put a bit of an offset in the chimney to move it over about four inches.

By hook or by crook, we will.

Here’s how the inside looks. Just ignore the cross-braces that we’re leaving in until we put up the railing.

Smokestack Lightning

So far, so good. Now, Clare’s favorite part, “Greg monkeys around on the roof.” It was kind of sickening to cut a big hole in our nice metal roof, but it beats having the house fill with smoke.

Making a hole where the rain gets in...

This part was a little bit nerve-wracking, since it was late November and at any time it could start snowing and not stop for a month or two. I worked as fast as I could, adding the rest of the chimney sections, then using a form-fitting rubber boot as  the first level of flashing.

The morning sun is shining like a red rubber boot

After caulking and screwing this down, and letting the caulk cure, I added a second flashing, this one metal. Notice the minor amount of snow that fell in the intervening few days:

Flash & the Pan

Finally, to protect the chimney from a freight train of snow sliding down the metal roof, I used some extra roofing, plywood, lumber and rubber flashing to build a “cricket” to divert the snow:

Chimney, not Jiminy...

A day or two after this, it did in fact snow quite a bit. But, as you can see from the first picture, we were too busy enjoying our first Nerdwood fire to worry about that.

I’m gonna raise the roof, I’m gonna carry on

give me an old trombone, give me an old baton…

Nerdwood welcomes you

We’re building most of this house ourselves; just the two of us with lots of advice and the occasional helping hand. We are contracting out a few steps, though, one of which is the roof. Not only is it a bit too high for us, it would take forever for two inexperienced people to do what needed to be done. John Hamilton and his crew of merry men finished the roof on July 17, 2008. It took them just under a week and a half; here’s how it all came down. First, they put up the rafters:

They'd make a heck of a raft

Those are sixteen-inch high I-joists, which are made from scrap wood (just like OSB sheathing) and can be made to order to surprisingly long lengths. Ours were forty-four feet long; the crew cut them down to just under forty feet for the main part of the roof and used the rest for the overhang in front. Next up was to put up the decking and fascia boards:

Bloody fascias!

They actually laid down a layer of decking, then ran two-by-fours above the joists and laid a second layer of decking on top of that. This allows us to fill the entire sixteen-inch cavity above the ceiling with insulation, and the space between the two layers of decking will provide ventilation to keep the roof cool in summer and prevent ice forming in the winter.

After the decking, they put up felt paper and the metal roofing panels. We went with a white roof, which will help keep the house cooler in the summer. As you can see from the first photo, the top of the roof itself is not really visible due to the shape. This is true from almost every vantage point. Here’s a vantage point I’m unlikely to “enjoy” on a regular basis:

This is the highest I've been yet!

This is standing on the peak of the roof looking down across the front overhang.

The final bits were the soffit (the underside of the roof) and the fascia covering (sides of the roof). The soffit was a bit tricky for the crew since they had to wrap it around the many angles of the post-and-beam structure.

No critters getting in here!

The crew said it was the largest soffit they had ever built; this was due to the large areas of overhang in the back since it’s a square roof over a semicircular building. Finally, they brought it all together by finishing the fascia and related trim:

Go ahead. Rain all you want.

Whew! Now the frame will stay dry and we can work under cover from the sun and rain. We have a few more details to build before we start cordwooding, but these should only take a week or so. Here’s a gratuitous vantage point looking northeast from the house:

That's what I love to see

And a visitor to the house:

Please eat some bugs, fella!