How We Got Wood Heating

Here on Pig Row this time last year the heating engineers came, they huffed, puffed and blew parts of our house down.


Thermo Suprema up and running. Solid fuel heating.


A four day job dragged into three weeks, numerous floods, a few drips and expletives. The drips are still with us but we have been promised they will go soon. The heating engineer Mexican stand off is over and today my wife and I approached the new oven with some trepidation. My wife stood by the doorway, holding tight to the frame and watching our son in the front room yell, ‘hot, hot, hot’. This is a mantra we have drummed into him over the last month. First came a new stove in our crumbling fireplace and we screamed at our son, ‘hot’ the first time he walked in the room to see it; it must be said that it was unlit and that he was confused by my wife and I dancing around it going, ‘Ouch, ouch, hot, hot’ when it was obvious that the stove was unlit. Every time since our son has come downstairs to find my wife and I dancing around the new stove, subsequently the new oven was added to our warped Morris Men routine, as we slap each other in a bid to show our son that we must never touch hot things. Ouch. Ouch. Hot. Hot. We never guessed he would solve the hot problem. The stove is encased behind a nursery guard but our son runs to it yelling, ‘hot, hot, hot’ before throwing his moo cow cup of water on the hearth. It would be funny if in the process he didn’t drench me, my wife, our furniture and our neighbour who just popped in to see our new heating system.

In our kitchen is an expensive oven. When we paid the last installment to the heating engineers we felt sick. We spent an afternoon appeasing our guilt with excuses that ranged from how gas was getting to be expensive and how we’d go through at least five ovens in our life time and the same in boilers. Still it doesn’t help our funds or the feeling of queasiness. This new oven is a Broseley Thermo Suprema. I get the Thermo part of the oven, as it is very warm, but I do think the Suprema sounds like a bad pizza but it is cutting edge technology in the world of solid fuel. The oven works within a sealed system that builds gases and warmth through valves, pressure releases, thermostats and pumps. There is no doubt that we now own a Victorian steam engine with numerous blow offs but no Fred Dibnah. Our kitchen is awash with copper pipes giving us the steampunk look.

Still my wife stands by the door and I start to feed the oven. It takes us two hours to figure out which knobs to twist, which vents to open, which thermostats to turn before we yell with joy that the oven is heating up. The rest of the house is heating up too. We have spent two years barely breaking the eighteen degree mark but as I write this most of the house is hovering around twenty six degrees. The fire we lit in the lounge in case the heating didn’t work now seems folly and for the first time since we moved to Pig Row, we actually leave doors open. There is a feeling of naughtiness about it all that we should be in swimwear and sunglasses. It takes us three hours to get the oven to one hundred and sixty degrees; this is around gas mark three. This is not the ovens fault but ours. We have twisted the wrong knob, slid the wrong vent open and been baffled by the thermostat but there is a feeling that when you are spending so much on a solid fuel system that someone should move in with you for the week. That they should be there from the start, gently tutting as you feed too much wood into it, yawn when you dare to reach for the newspaper and slap you silly when you leave the oven door open. It would help as the badly translated user manual doesn’t help. Though Broseley are an English company, the oven is built by Italians and someone, somewhere in either company is having a laugh at their bad attempt to translate. We have two manuals; a third product manual and all three have diagrams, and all three call different parts of the oven different things. Reassuringly though the hotplates are hot, the crank handle is cranky and the oven is slow but the warmth is immediate. The bath brims with hot water that lulls me to sleep. Radiators pulse with warmth to late evening. All the rooms in our house are now used, they are no longer places we rush into and run out again with jumpers, scarves and woolly hats. Even by tea time my wife is poking the fire in oven and declaring that we have reached one hundred and seventy degrees and that there’s chicken thighs in the oven. All we have to figure out now is where to get decent wood that burns slow and high. I will ponder this in a hot bath.

Here is our complete story over the last twelve months (we shouldn't have had to have blogged so much about this when the mistake was so simple to rectify):
How I Became A Green Bore: Lighting the Way (November 2012)
How I Became A Green Bore (October 2012)
The End is Nigh (March 2012)
The End is Nigh, Again (March 2012)
Snowed Under (February 2012)
Problems with the Broseley Continued (February 2012)
The Snows are Here (January 2012)
Broseley Pressure Rising (December 2011)
Broseley Thermo Suprema Pressure Problems (December 2011)
Broseley Help Us (December 2011)
Problems With Our Broseley Thermo Suprema (December 2011)
Solid Fuel - Does it Work? (November 2011)
Solid Fuel and Biomass (November 2011)
New Winter, New Heating System (October 2011)
Living with the enemy (September 2011)