Building a new sauna, don’t overlook these details.
Over the years we have found many mistakes made by amateurs during the sauna construction process. We want to save you some hassle by providing these quick tips for maximum safety and comfort.
Clearances to Combustibles
There are minimum clearances from combustibles for the sauna heaters. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended clearances. For wood burning sauna heaters you may also require a WETT inspection to satisfy your insurance company.
Sauna Door Swing
For safety reasons, a sauna door should always swing out of the sauna allowing quick escape should an emergency arise. Becoming trapped could prove fatal if escape delayed.
Saunas with heavy traffic should have a window in the door to avoid bumping the door into someone behind it.
Air Circulation and Venting
A moist, warm sauna can be a breeding ground for unwanted mould if proper precautions are not taken into consideration. Following a sauna session, the sauna needs to be quickly aired out and dried to eliminate mould potential. Installing a vent or window that can be opened post-sauna would be ideal to allow moisture to escape and allow fresh air movement. If no vent is possible, then leaving the door ajar post-sauna will help.
Often saunas are oversized needing extra energy to heat. Consider how many people would use it at one time and adjust sizing accordingly. To save on cubic space but maximize on seating, consider L-shaped or U-shaped benches in your design. If the sauna has a wood-burning heater, also consider the clearances required from the heater to the benches.
Your new sauna interior will be breathtaking!
Water and an sweat eventually stain the wood leaving ugly wear marks on benches and walls. While some of it can be sanded to bare wood to refresh, deeper stains are difficult to remove. Also sanding is a messy and tedious process. The wood inside the sauna should be preserved, but not with varnish, lacquer or paint. These finishes can off-gas toxic fumes in the heat and also could make the surfaces uncomfortably hot. The best option is a water based natural sauna sealer which dries clear. It will seal the pores of the wood and keep it from staining and going grey, keeping your sauna looking like new.
Improper drainage, leaves pooling water and moisture to linger causing potential mould problems. The sauna floor should contain a drain with the floor slightly sloped towards the drain to remove excess moisture quickly. The floor should be finished with a waterproof, easy to clean surface to make maintenance a breeze. Cement floors are cold on the feet and a dirt trap if not finished well. Tile is better but still cool on the feet, with grout lines to maintain. An epoxy paint system is the easiest to clean and can be applied on a wooden sub-floor. Wooden slat mats, called duckboards, can be used where feet touch the floor for added comfort on cold floors, however they need to be lifted on edge to air dry post-sauna.
Bring in your plans, and consult with our knowledgeable staff at Nordic Energy. Costly mistakes can be avoided as we walk you through the final details to ensure you get maximum safety and enjoyment from your new sauna.
As the heating season draws to a close, and before you lay the fireplace to rest, there are some maintenance items you should perform depending on the type of fireplace you have. A full fireplace or stove cleaning ensures you are ready for the next season while making it more attractive to look at during the warmer months.
If you are not comfortable performing the maintenance or running short on time, you can always call in a professional.
NATURAL GAS OR PROPANE FIREPLACES
Doing these will ensure you are ready when cold weather hits:
Don’t skip your fireplace maintenance this year.
Clean your glass using cleaner specially formulated for gas appliances. Don’t use ammonia based household cleaners as they will etch ceramic glass when heated and leave permanent damage. If your glass seems to get dirtier quicker than usual or leaves funny streaks on the glass, it is a sign that a tune up is required by gas technician.
Check your gaskets around the glass to ensure they are still soft and pliable. With age they harden and no longer provide a tight seal to keep the exhaust gases in and leak room air into the fireplace hence decreasing its performance.
Book your annual servicing by a licensed gas technician as recommended in your owner’s manual to maintain a valid warranty. There is a series of tests they perform to ensure your fireplace is operating at maximum efficiency. Technicians usually have more availability in the spring than fall, providing you more convenient scheduling. Any issues will be fresh in your memory helping technicians diagnose problems quicker.
WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE
Start by thoroughly cleaning your chimney with a chimney brush to remove corrosive creosote build up. If you are uncomfortable doing it yourself, call in a chimney sweep.
Wood burning fireplaces need more care than gas fireplaces do.
Then empty your ashes and clean your firebox with an ash vacuum or shop vac with a fine dust filter. While in the firebox, Inspect and replace any cracked or broken firebricks or baffles. These protect the steel firebox from overheating and warping while improving the life of your stove.
Next, check the condition of door seals and change gaskets if they feel at all crunchy and have lost their spring. They are meant to create tight seal around door and keep air out for better control and efficiency. If the fire seems to burn hotter than usual on same damper setting, or if your glass is getting dirtier than usual, or burning through wood sooner, then gaskets may be the culprit.
Finally clean your glass using cleaner dedicated to wood fireplaces, or use a damp paper towel with some ash soot to scrub followed by a clean moist damp paper towel and finally buff with a dry paper towel.
Once your fireplace or stove is prepped for the next season, start processing your firewood for next two seasons. Next year you only need to prepare wood for one season. Then you will be ahead of the game with guaranteed seasoned wood each year. The drier the wood, the more efficiently you extract heat from it when burning. Efficient burning saves wood meaning less chopping and stacking for you.
PELLET STOVES OR INSERTS
Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction in the owner’s manual for specific instructions as they vary by stove manufacturer. If in doubt, call us to book a professional cleaning and tune-up for your stove.
First, burn up all the pellets in the hopper and allow the stove to cool down. Then scrape the burn pot free of any clinker build up, remove the ashes, deep clean the firebox with an ash vacuum, removing baffles as needed. Next, check your gaskets to ensure they are still soft and pliable providing maximum sealing. If in question, replace. Follow up with a glass cleaning using a dedicated cleaner for wood/pellet stoves. Ammonia based house cleaners will etch the glass over time.
To clean the auger, open up the side panels to gain access. Service anything else within as recommended by the owner’s manual.
Finally, clean the venting with a chimney brush.
To ensure your next seasons supply of pellets, order your pre-season priced pellets in the spring, taking delivery and storing in the summer. Call us for details.
Before determining what type of heater is required you first need to determine how often you will be using it, where it will be located and how many people you need to accommodate.
You have several options, and one type may be better than the other for your family’s situation.
If your sauna will be outdoors, typically a wood burning sauna heater is the recommended unless you are in the city. Always check with your insurance company prior to committing to a wood burning sauna to ensure they will provide insurance coverage. Outdoor saunas can be larger in size to accommodate more people, and are great by the lake to extend your swimming season.
When an outdoor sauna is preferred, but your insurance company is not in favor, then a sauna heated with electric is your next best option. In Northern Ontario, with rising electric costs, you want to ensure that your outdoor sauna room is well insulated, floor and ceiling included, if you plan on year-round usage. Electric also provides convenience, no need to chop firewood, or stoke a fire. Just setting the thermostat and timer for your sauna will ensure it’s ready in 30-45 minutes depending on outdoor temperatures. Sizing the heater correctly, will ensure you have plenty of heat and steam to relax in.
To make it even more convenient, why not have a sauna indoors. You can choose from a traditional electric sauna or an infrared sauna. Again depending on your purpose for the sauna, one may be better than the other for your family. If you prefer heat and sizzling steam to relax in, then an electric heater would be in order.
If you enjoy a mild, dry heat for detoxing and soothing aches and pains, then an infrared will be more to your liking. These run at lower temperatures but penetrate heat much deeper, providing excellent therapy and toxin removal.
If you like both and can’t decide, then opt for a combination electric and infrared sauna together in one room, using one or the other based on your mood and general well being.
Visit us in your planning stages of the sauna and we would be happy to help choose the right sauna heater for your situation and help develop a construction plan for your ideal sauna.
Dreaming of a fireplace but think it’s beyond your budget? Masonry wood fireplaces are majestic and beautiful but costly to build, inefficient and difficult to add after initial home construction. However there are economical and efficient alternatives available today that are relatively quick and easy to install almost anywhere.
Typical masonry wood fireplaces need a proper foundation to carry their weight, making them difficult to add after initial home construction. Zero-clearance fireplaces are much lighter in weight, not needing any special foundation, allowing placement almost anywhere, at anytime. Finishes can go beyond brick or stone to include contemporary plaster, tile, or cultured stone.
Unlike masonry fireplaces that required skilled masons to install, zero clearance wood burning fireplaces can be a DIY project with basic skills provided you follow the manufactures installation guide and have the fireplace WETT inspected upon completion. The insulated firebox can be framed in with wood or steel studs, drywall or cement board prior to adding finishing layer. Installation time is 1-3 days depending on your final finishing material
CONSTRUCTION COST SAVINGS
Less expensive material, less specialized trades, less installation time, means savings on the bottom line versus a typical masonry unit, plus the added savings that come with efficient wood burning deriving more heat from less wood.
These prefabricated zero clearance wood burning fireplaces are built to the same heating standards as an air tight woodstove, meaning you get the same heating output with more aesthetic appeal. Wood burning zero clearance fireplaces all have glass doors to keep the cold out when not in use, and improve burn times. Wood burning zero clearance fireplaces are engineered to meet the latest emissions ratings, meaning less smoke and more heat from the same load of wood. Most are now airtight also, with secondary burn to keep the glass doors clean just like a wood stove. Some have heat dump capabilities to move excess heat to harder to reach areas like the basement or adjacent rooms.
So whether you are building a new home or cottage, or if you would like to renovate your existing one, a zero clearance wood burning fireplace is a great option. A zero clearance wood burning fireplace can supplement your heating bills, add ambiance and decor while adding resale value to your home or cottage. Stop by our showroom to find to pick out your style. We’ll help you choose the proper size for your space so you get maximum enjoyment.
Everyone dreams of owning a fireplace for the warmth and ambiance they bring. With masonry fireplaces being bulky and cost prohibitive, zero clearance fireplaces fit the bill, with flexible and hassle free installation. A zero clearance fireplace can be installed almost anywhere due to space saving designs and they help save on your energy bills while you enjoy the glowing radiant fire.
WHAT IS IT?
A fully enclosed pre-fabricated metal firebox, built to standards and tested to allow wood frame construction right up to it’s standoffs, eliminating the need of any brick construction. When installed according to manufacturer’s instructions, this makes for an easy, quick and inexpensive installation of a zero-clearance fireplace, especially as compared to a traditional fireplace. Professional installation is recommended and may be a requirement, depending on both building codes where you live and your home’s insurance policy.
A zero clearance fireplaces is light weighted allowing flexibility as to where it is installed. The firebox can carried by standard floor joists, hence no additional weight bearing foundation is required like a traditional masonry fireplace would need. The smaller size also opens up location options normally not available whether on first, second or third floor of a house. You just need to consider the required venting or chimney locations, and if gas, how to connect to the fuel line.
CONSTRUCTION COST SAVINGS
Zero clearance fireplaces save in construction cost, eliminating expensive masonry work, mess and time savings. Due to wood framing allowed, typical installation and finishing is only a few days. For tight budgets, a fireplace can be finished in stages, starting with a painted plaster finish and then adding tile, brick or cultured stone years down the road when funds allow.
Zero clearance fireplaces are available in decorative, mid efficiency and high efficiency models depending on your family’s needs. There is no comparison to a traditional brick and mortar fireplace when it comes to efficiency. A traditional masonry fireplace loses as much as 90% of its heat up the chimney while an average zero clearance fireplace wastes less than 30% heat, making them great supplemental heat sources. With the latest technology and engineering zero clearance fireplaces eliminate cold drafts while maximizing heat.
Elegant zero clearance fireplaces are available in wood burning, natural gas, propane and electric.
With a wood burning zero clearance fireplace, you get the ambiance of a real fire with benefits of the most economical and fuel. Besides in a power outage you will always have light, heat and a source for basic cooking.
Natural gas or propane zero clearance fireplaces offer ambiance and warmth with convenience and ease. They operate on a thermostat providing even consistent heat when needed, burning a clean fuel.
Electric fireplaces provide ambiance where other fireplaces have restriction in location or budget. Electric fireplaces can be wall mounted or built-in. They can be plugged into an electrical outlet or hardwired, depending on the model. They can be operated with or without heat, giving you year round enjoyment of a fire.
So when it comes to choosing your dream fireplace, stop by our showroom. Come see the many options available from rustic, traditional, contemporary or transitional. Whether it is a small fireplace for a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen to a grand fireplace for the great room, we have them all. We’ll guide you through the selection process to find the best fit for your budget, home and lifestyle.