What’s the best practice? Last year I tarped it but there was mold in the spring. I could leave it open. It I’m worried the snow/rain will move the bricks that only have sand around them. Thoughts?
Placing a thick tarp over the oven for long periods of time is the best way to protect your oven in the long term. Any oven - Any brand…
Don’t completely seal the the oven - leave some open areas for air to enter / exit - and you won’t get mold.
If there is movement in the sand-set firebrick, it can easily be tapped back into place w/ a rubber mallet - but any movement will be minimal.
Our location is between Seattle and Vancouver, BC - so we get snow, rain, sun, earthquakes… and we have very minimal shift (if any) of the sand-set firebrick in ovens or BrickWood Box.
But more importantly - don’t seal the oven too much w/ the tarp… that may cause a bit of mold inside the oven if moisture is trapped inside prior to applying the tarp. Occasionally, untarp the oven on a sunny day and let her breathe some fresh air before you put the tarp back on.
The reason I was hesitant about wrapping it up except for some vent holes is I don’t want mice getting in and making a nest over the winter. I figured if it was open it’s less likely something will nest in there but at the cost of it being exposed.
So, a couple of ideas, Ryan:
- Unless the mice have a pathway to get up to the hearth, they’re not going to find their way into your oven in the first place.
- Make sure you clean your hearth thoroughly after your last bake of the season. The critters want grease and carbs and water. Thus, they like whatever crumbs or scraps of foods that contain those ingredients. And if it sounded like I was listing pizza components…
- You can dedicate a tarp to your winterizing process. Fashion 2 or 3 arches, or perhaps a couple of stones on top, over the oven to create an air space. Drape the tarp over the oven and fasten it right at the base. Then puncture a few small vent holes halfway up the sides of the tarp where it is hanging vertically. (Don’t go crazy with this.) The goal is to make it less likely that water will find its way into the vent holes, but more likely that air will. Also, no rodents.
- Finally, try scattering dryer sheets on your slab. You can get a box of 80 (or 250 at the warehouse club) for cheap. The critters who otherwise would call your oven “home” are repelled by the odor. It won’t leave much or any residue on your oven floor. Your first fire next season will burn off any lingering aroma in the first 30 minutes — as long as you remember to remove them first! (I suppose if you forget, you’ll get a nice soft, wrinkle-free crust on your pizza.)
Hope this helps!
Is it really necessary to winterize the oven, though? If you know it’s not going to be used, I understand - but I was under the impression that it was usable in winter months as long as the fire was built slowly to prevent thermal shock/cracking. Am I misunderstanding the guidance from this other Brickwood post?
Oh no… you can absolutely use your oven in the winter! We use ours all year long and even when there is snow on the oven. You just need to fire the oven slowly! About 90 minutes vs. 60 minutes in warmer months.
That topic was just for long-term storage… if you don’t plan on using your oven for months on end.