There are many types of masonry heaters, one of the most popular heaters is known as the Russian Fireplace. Typically a Russian Fireplace will have three to five flue passages, these passages can run vertical or horizontal. Usually, these flue passages are run vertically in order to maintain their structural strength. A masonry heater design is only limited by the imagination of the designer. However, there are some important basic rules that need to be followed when you are building a Russian Fireplace. The principles that are used in a Russian Fireplace are quite a bit different than a regular fireplace. Most all regularly built fireplaces, the heat will simply escape up the chimney, with very little radiated back into the room. This is not so with the Russian fireplace. In a true masonry heater or Russian fireplace, the fuel is burned very slowly with over a 50% rate or efficiency. The heat that is produced is evenly distributed into the large masonry mass of the Russian fireplace and trapped inside the maze of flue passages. The mass of the masonry will absorb the heated energy, letting it release slowly back into the room for the next twenty-four hours.
We build Russian fireplaces out of many different materials. They can be constructed of brick, block, or stone. This picture of a beautiful stone Russian fireplace is a good example of what can be done. The mass is solid masonry having a weight of approx. 8000 pounds. This beautiful stone Russian fireplace, or a variation of it, could fit in very well with a wide verity of homes that are built. Not all masonry heaters or Russian fireplaces need to be this large. In fact, you can build a Russian fireplace that works very well, that is only half the size of the one that is pictured above. Generally, masonry heaters are safe to the touch. This is an important feature of the Russian fireplace, especially if you have small children. The only part that should not be touched, is the metal & glass door when you are burning a fire. As the fire dies down, even the glass door will become cool to the touch, as the masonry mass continues to release heat back into the room.
As you can see, a Russian fireplace, is a green fireplace in more than one way. First and foremost, a regular fireplace burns at a 10% efficiency. While a Russian fireplace burns at over 50% efficiency. That means that a Russian fireplace will produce 5 times more heat than a regular masonry fireplace on the same amount wood. Next, a Russian fireplace is constructed of almost 100% natural material that can be completely recycled. As stonemasons, we have built many beautiful masonry fireplaces. From a regular brick masonry fireplace to a see-through out-door Fireplace. My personal favorite fireplace is a Russian fireplace. They have been used for thousands of years throughout Europe in a wide verity of ways, not only to heat their homes but also for baking bread, pizza, and drying fruit. If you have ever thought about having a beautiful highly efficient Russian fireplace in your home, give us a call and let take a look at your space and see what can be done. In some cases your existing fireplace can be retrofitted into a Russian fireplace or masonry heater, that will be five times more efficient as your old fireplace.