Our official moving in date was the 12th February, 2013. This gave us three months to research, make decisions and organise heating before the winter chill started to set in. Where we are in the Adelaide Hills it gets cold, not dig yourself out of snow with months on end of sub-zero temps kind of cold. I deeply admire how you wonderful folk in other parts of the world manage that. But cold enough to warrant some kind of external heat source and foresee close to zero temperatures in the evenings during the depths of winter. And it really is just a three month season. We are a temperate climate zone and get a very clear four seasons per year with a cold, wet winter and a hot, dry summer. They are not designated strictly to their named months however, as, like everywhere, things are-a-shiftin'.
Three months may seem like ample time to get heating organised, but given how busy we were in the front garden, not to mention unpacking and settling into a new house and carrying on everyday life with two wee ones in tow, life was overflowing with productivity, let's put it that way, and three months meant we had to get cracking.
I am a lover of natural heating and cooling (so is Tuck for that matter), so it was a pretty easy discussion that led us to decide upon a wood heater. Before we had even begun researching brands, we found out about a local business who, although were outsourcing some manufacturing abroad, still made some of their range here. We didn't want to handle the actual installation ourselves since we had no idea about one end of a flue from the other, so we called in some friendly lads who specialised in the locally owned and made Nectre heaters for a chat and a quote.
These guys were awesome! I learned so much from them and the level of phone support they gave me as we underwent the removal of the old defunct oil heater and subsequent flue system was incredible.
It was a process, this removal and installation. That oil heater I mentioned, of which I am lacking a decent photo of, well... let's just say you wouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole! It had to go. Getting that beast out was relatively easy compared to the double flue system that went with it. I still do not know what is standard with those things, but this had two aluminium flues, an inner one and an outer. Both had to be removed as they were hazardous and not the regulation stainless steel required for wood burners. I think from memory the diameters were wrong as well. Anyway, an angle grinder and a father-in-law (who also happens to be the owner of the angel grinder) were called in to help.
The action shots above show the inner flue being painstakingly cut and removed at intervals and then the filthy outer flue which was so brittle we were able to get away with only a few cuts and managed to pull and bend it out along the blankets. Gee it was great to see that gone. And just for the curious and cautious, the power point you see to the left in the first photo above, was also removed with wires safely taped off, plugged up, pushed back into the cavity, and the small hole puttied, sanded and awaiting a final paint job of all the bricks at the back. Once upon a time it was an open fireplace so we were lucky to have a spot already designated for the heater.
The progressive process can be seen above. Look at those floor boards would you?! Oh they make my heart flutter - they are on the to-do list, believe me. What a mess that oil heater left behind. Ah well, nothin' a bit of concrete slabbing and slate salvaged from the garden didn't fix. Our lounge room is large with very high ceilings so although legally we had to extend the base out, we took it a little extra for safety. Actually, I'll tell you a secret... the size of that slab... it was a bit of a mistake, but one we are now so grateful for. Initially I thought that we would have to bring the wood heater forward from the back wall to maximise the radiant heat, so we allowed for the legal depth in front. As it turned out, we didn't need to bring it forward and the heater sits flush against the wall without compromising on the output of heat. We chose the smallest of the Nectre range because it was within our budget and one of the models they still manufacture locally. This model is without the inbuilt fan of some of their larger heaters and with us now nearing the end of our second winter here, it meets our needs perfectly. The height of it (the slab that is) was also a bit of accidental overkill (a story I'll save for another time), but again, because of the sheer size of our lounge, it works in our favor... got lucky there! It also acts as an extra safely measure for the kids... our number one winter rule, no one is allowed on the slab. I'm grateful they are both sleeping peacefully in the later hours and do not witness me glued to that thing!
Here it is in all it's brand new glory... what do you think?
By the way, those statues you see either side of the heater were quickly re-homed onto the mantel above. That little thing cranks so much heat out they would have combusted otherwise.