We’ve had some excitement at Prairie Woods the last little while. We’re currently in the breaking-in process for our brand new Tulikivi masonry Finnish soapstone fireplace!
The Tulikivi has to be slowly broken in. This first fire was only about 2 pounds of wood and only kindling. The kindling is lath Helena pulled from the walls two years ago – nails removed, of course!)
I remember reading about masonry fireplaces many years ago in Harrowsmith. For those who don’t know what they are, the combustion chamber burns fuel more efficiently than a regular fireplace or a wood burning stove. Then, before the hot flue gases go up the chimney and disappear, they are guided through a set of air chambers built between the combustion chamber and the surrounding stone. The exterior and interior stone absorbs the heat which is radiated into the room over a number of hours, long after the fire is out.
With years of deadfall in the large shelter belts at Prairie Woods, John wanted to get a wood burning stove for supplementary heat. But wood burning stoves are only warm when the fire is going. Never having been a fan of even forced air furnaces with their uneven temperatures, I loved the idea of steady radiant heat.
Slowly, over time, and with some research, I convinced John of the superiority of a masonry fireplace. Now, which kind to get? That decision didn’t take nearly as long. Tulikivi is one of the better known brands for a reason. Soapstone has exceptional heat retention properties. The Finnish connection was a bonus, being part of my family heritage.
The design of the stoves, from a practical point of view, seemed to be one of the more efficient models on the market. That conclusion was confirmed by the mason who installed our Tulikivi for us. He said the engineering behind the Tulikivi was light years ahead of competitors and he even called the Tulikivi the Rolls Royce or Bentley of masonry fireplaces!
We made our decision to get a Tulikivi in the late spring. Then we had to choose the model we wanted. We even added some custom touches to it, such as seating benches along one side and across the back. We ordered the fireplace in mid-July.
The quarry/factory in Finland cut the stone and even assembled it on site to ensure everything was in order. Then it was disassembled and the pieces of soapstone loaded into a container and shipped with others to Canada (B.C.). It arrived in late October.
The chimney for the Tulikivi has been brought up from the basement, through the main floor and the upstairs bathroom and is now through the roof. There are still two four-foot sections to add, as well as the chimney cap to keep out snow, rain and birds.
What we should have done was order the special model of chimney required when we ordered the fireplace. We waited until we thought the fireplace was close to arriving and then ordered the chimney. Then we waited, and waited some more. Finally the chimney arrived and John installed it. I helped bring it through the roof.
The chimney delay meant our Tulikivi sat in B.C. for a month before we were ready for it to be installed. Sascha Arnold of Arnold Masonry in Okotoks, Alta., is a qualified Tulikivi installer and December 1, 2013, he arrived with all the pieces he needed to assemble our fireplace.
After Sascha, his father Herbert and John had carried in all the pieces and set them up around the room, they had to warm up overnight before work could begin. The factory in Finland had numbered each piece and Sascha had an installation manual specific to our particular custom-built model.
Tulikivi stones have been brought in to warm up to be ready for use the next day. A son-in-law saw this photo and said it looked like a big jigsaw puzzle. The stones shown represent perhaps 15% of the total stones laid out in our basement, December 1, 2013.
Construction of the Tulikivi begins December 2, 2013. This overhead view shows the air chambers between the interior combustion are and the exterior stone walls of the fireplace. Hot flue gases from the fire will circulate through the chambers, heating the stone which then stores the heat for hours, even after the fire is out.
After two and a half days (long 12-hour days) of construction, the Tulikivi stands complete. Now it must cure for four days before we start breaking it in slowly with small fires. As you can see, we will be finishing the basement around the Tulikivi!
We couldn’t be happier with the the service, workmanship and courtesy of our mason, Sascha at http://arnoldmasonryltd.ca/, (who is also the Alberta dealer for Tulikivi), and Daniel, the Canadian Tulikivi distributor at http://www.soapstoneheating.com/ Feel free to click on those links if you would like more information!