Pros and Cons of Masonry Heaters: Page 2 of 2

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  • the expansion into account.
  • Incorrectly built heaters can crack, reducing efficiency, releasing pollutants, and causing structural problems.
  • Siting is important – it's best to have the heater free-standing, rather than tucked in a corner or backed onto a wall where it will not be able to radiate heat on all sides.
  • They must be placed completely within the home's warm envelope. Backing the chimney onto the exterior will cause smoky fires, smoke spillage, and difficult ignition.
  • Masonry heaters are very expensive – well over $10,000 for a custom model. Standard models often come in at $6,000 to $10,000, depending on size and design. You could build one yourself for half that amount (with the risks associated with competence), though even kits range from several thousand dollars into the teens.
  • Building your own masonry heater is almost always a bad idea, though you can usually get away with buying a kit and having a professional fit it for less.
  • These heaters also need make-up air taken from the exterior of the house if your home is airtight. If you don't do this, you can get backdraft down the chimney, pushing pollutants out into the living space.
  • They require periodic firing, knowledge of how to build a fire, and understanding of how masonry heaters work. This is all an extra time investment. On top of that, producing fuel takes a lot of effort, especially if you cut, split, and transport it yourself.