Water damage- soaked through

I’m in a bad way here with worry about my oven. I left for three weeks on vacation and did not cover my oven. After building it, I sealed it with the recommended product, but while gone, we had over 10 inches of rain here In Alabama. My floor seems to be soaked through and when building small fires, the heat now seems to be coming through the sides of the oven. I used extra layers of the thermal insulated blanket material and then, of course, stucco followed by thin brick. I’m guessing my bad grouting and probably less than adequate sealing soaked everything. Will the insulation ever dry out, or is my big beautiful ( to me) oven ruined and will need to be taken down? I’m so bummed. My girlfriend and I killed ourselves building it. Any help/ suggestions/ feel better thoughts are appreciated.

Hi Kevin,

Sounds like you got inundated. Major bummer indeed.


Feel better. Your oven is not ruined, just soaked.

  • Now is the time to backtrack to the initial startup steps for your oven. Curing fires, by the book. You need to dry it out without creating steam pressure from water evaporating inside the arch envelope.
  • Low. Slow. Be patient with each fire and don’t try to push it.
  • Keep the door off between curing fires. You want the moisture to escape through the oven mouth and the chimney. The only exception is if it looks like rain again. Get yourself a large tarp and cover it in the case so you don’t lose ground.

Soon enough, you will be back in business.

Sorry it happened, and I do sincerely hope you feel better—it’s not your fault, and all is not lost!

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Thanks Matt. I’ll start on that today. I’ve had a few smallish fires already before getting learned advice. I’ll back off a bit and start again. Many thanks. I am building a cantilevered roof right now. Eventually, that will help a bit

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I think that you do need to determine how / where the rain got in. Did you have a door on the opening? Did the water rest on the flat brick of the chimney and seep in?

@bikerbudmatt advice on drying your oven out is very wise advice. In addition I would check your grout for cracks, gaps, corner holes, etc. (especially on the top of the oven). If you find any, you can seal them with a tube of silicone caulk, I’ve used the kind that is white when applied and drys clear.

I also used a brick veneer on my oven and sealed it per the brickwoodovens.com instructions. The only place I’ve ever had water is in the front of the oven. Even though I use a door, I now cover the front with plastic when heavy rain is in the forecast.

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@bikerbudmatt, just curious. Why would @Kevin216 feel heat from the sides if insulated? Does it indicate that the insulation got wet and is conducting heat? If so (and once completely dry) should he attempt to reseal it, perhaps with more effective sealer?

Merry Christmas!

Yes, most likely. If water got the insulation wet it will turn to steam. The mineral fiber insulation works like any “spun” material by creating an air break between two surfaces. The water closest to the hot surface will start to vaporize, then push toward the outside shell.

The goal with curing fires is to allow that water to escape slowly through the existing cavities of the oven rather than vaporize into the insulation.

BUT!! in light of your advice to @Kevin216 to look for cracks and crevices, I’ll add another thought. If he finds anything like that, he should not seal it up until after he has dried the oven out. Might as well use them to get all the water out if they are present.

And my advice about tarping in case of wet weather still applies for sure.

Thanks Gary for your advice and Merry Christmas to you as well!

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Thanks for the help. I’m guessing that my terrible grout work, along with inadequate bucket covering of my chimney pipe allowed lots of water to soak in to the oven and saturate the ceramic insulation. My building skills were severely wanting and although I’ve successfully baked some pizzas and other dishes, the oven needs retro- work. Prior to the deluge, the outside stayed cool even if 900 inside.

I’ll just add once more the most important part of my advice:

Feel better.

All the planning and labor you and your girlfriend put into this project is not lost. This is fixable. Use the oven’s current weaknesses to your advantage, then follow our advice (thanks @CMG !) and make it stronger and better.

Best wishes and Merry Christmas!

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I agree with @bikerbudmatt, and grout is an easy fix if that’s the issue. Carefully remove any loose / crumbling grout then use a grout pointing tool to press in and smooth the new mortar. Follow the instructions for drying and sealing the new mortar. By building the oven, the two of you have already done 99% of the work, now you just need give your labor of love a more weather proof shell so that your oven can last for many years. Please share some before and after pics when you get a chance.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

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I wasn’t sure if my responses went through. I sometimes can’t find what I’m looking for. Anyway, thank you both for your responses snd assistance. I feel better and have seemingly dried out the oven sufficiently. I’ll catch my breath a bit and work on my roof and after that, jump back in to reattach my loose chimney plate and do my grout/ mortar better. Again, thanks for walking me off the ledge.