Weather and Brick Ovens
Brick ovens are sturdy stalwarts in any backyard’s culinary arsenal, but even these tough appliances are sensitive to the elements. In order to keep your backyard oven working for a long time, here are some facts about how weather can impact your brick oven’s longevity and a few tips on protecting it from Mother Nature’s wrath!
Water is the worst
Here at Patio and Pizza, we’ve noticed a common thread in most of the questions we get about pizza oven problems. Most of the time, the cause of a worn wood-fired oven is simply the presence of water. As pointed out by construction industry professionals Building Solutions, masonry materials such as brick are porous and can absorb moisture from rain, snow, and even water vapor in the air. Once moisture enters brick, it will expand and contract in conjunction with changes in temperature.
This is of particular concern to pizza ovens since their temperature changes both substantially and quickly. The expansion and contraction of water inside the brick can lead to cracking or even structural failure of the oven if the water is present in large amounts. However, moisture-induced disaster is not inevitable...
Starting off strong
Our best advice for any outdoor oven owner is to cure your oven before your first use. We outlined how to cure your oven in a previous blog post, and it’s a simple process that will save you a lot of tears in the future. Curing your oven involves the use of controlled, slowly increased heat that evaporates the moisture inside your oven at a rate that dries your oven out instead of damaging it. A proper cure removes most of the water from your oven’s masonry that may have seeped in during construction, shipping, and the idle time your oven might have spent in wet environments.
This prevents the catastrophic cracks that one might see cooking in an uncured oven, such as those depicted in our previous post about dome cracks. It’s also worth noting that some small cracking should be expected if you cook in your oven a lot; however, if your oven was correctly cured and any damage you see doesn’t affect the oven’s operation, you can safely assume in most cases that these cracks are just signs of a well-loved oven that can be worn as a badge of honor or repaired if you wish.
Protecting your oven
Now that we’ve covered how moisture can affect your oven and discussed how early preventative measures are important first steps, let’s move on to how you can protect your oven from the inevitable effects of the elements.
While there is no way to perfectly waterproof a brick oven, good moisture maintenance can be followed without too much work. Our recommendation is to cover your brick oven while it’s not in use. A good covering will stop egregious amounts of moisture from damaging your oven, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of precipitation.
However, covering your oven is primarily effective against visible moisture; humidity in the air can still seep into your oven while it’s not in use. Here is where a rinse-and-repeat method works best: Regularly curing your oven, after rainy seasons or snow-filled winters, will ensure that you remove the bulk of the moisture that has built up in your oven between uses so that you don’t unintentionally superheat a soggy oven and crack your dome in the process.
If you have any other questions about oven maintenance, cooking tips, or even delicious recipes, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or through our contact page! We’d love to hear from you!
For cover options for your outdoor pizza oven, check out our accessories collection.