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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: Fixing Common Building Problems

A visual-heavy explantion of typical deficiencies seen in existing houses

This episode of the BS* + Beer show covers both common and less-obvious reasons for building failures. Doug Horgan and Randy Williams talk about the signs for identifying them and possible solutions. They each share a presentation with helpful visuals for sleuthing the types of problems building pros and homeowners face. Topics of conversation include factors that lead to air leakage, water infiltration routes, the value of diagnostic tools—with emphasis on manometers and thermal imaging cameras—supply ducts’ impact on air pressure, door undercuts and energy performance, gambrel roof–specific problems, broken window seals, and log cabin construction, among others.

The BS* + Beer Show schedule

Episodes air the first Thursday of the month. The next show is on October 6, 2022, from 6-7:30 p.m. ET, when t Albie Barden and Rod Zander will talk about “New Developments in Masonry Heaters.” This traditional northern European approach to heating with wood goes by many names including Russian fireplaces, Finnish fireplaces, and mass wood heaters. No matter the name, the concept remains the same: burn briefly and slow the escape of flue gasses. Albie has been designing and building this type of heater for decades, and recently returned from Finland, where he learned about new technologies he is excited to share with us.


Albie Barden is a Maine native. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Master of Divinity from Yale. Barden did a brief stint as a priest in the Episcopal Church before co-founding Spring Growth, the first back-to-the-land-appropriate technology event in Maine. He is co-founder of Northeast Carry, the Common Ground Fair, Maine Wood Heat Co., the Masonry Heater Association of North America, Maine Grain Alliance, the Kneading Conference, and Flint Corn in Maine. He is also a designer and builder of masonry heaters, cookers, and bake ovens with over 40 years of experience, as well as the inventor and manufacturer of the Albie Core masonry heater core-kit system. He distributes Tulikivi soapstone masonry heaters and other kit systems, and has designed low-cost flue-tile masonry heaters. Finnish Fireplaces: Heart of the Home, and several manuals on masonry heaters, cookstoves, and bake ovens are among his published works. He is also a closeted poet.

Rod Zander, of New England Hearth & Soapstone, LLC in Goshen, Connecticut, has been designing and building premium-quality masonry heaters since 1986. He was the second masonry heater installer in the United States to be certified by the Masonry Heating Association (MHA), the organization which sets industry standards in North America. He is a past Chair of the Masonry Heater Task Group of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and an ongoing member of both the Kachelofenverband and the MHA. Zander has an international reputation as a master designer and builder. His work is renowned by homeowners and contractors alike for his meticulously engineered one-of-a-kind soapstone and ceramic tiled masonry heaters. Although he began his career as a cabinetmaker and woodworker, the masonry heater he installed in his own home so intrigued him that he sought out the best craftsmen and technicians to learn everything he needed to know about masonry heaters. His travels took him to master builders, factories, and quarries in Germany, Austria, Canada, Sweden, Finland, and Nova Scotia, where he learned the time-honored skills of master craftsmen to hone his engineering, stone cutting, tile setting, masonry skills, and design abilities. Through the Kachelofenverband, he licenses a stove calculation program that certifies stove emissions and efficiency, which allows it to be used in any of the EU countries. Zander is factory-certified installer for the kits of Tulikivi, Bio Fire, Royal Crown, Gutbrod, Ortner, Brunner, Gabriel, & Sommerhuber. His installations and custom-crafted stoves can be found from Maine to North Carolina, New York, California, and Japan. His Helios masonry stove was a finalist in the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) Vesta Awards in 2010. His ‘2B4W’ masonry stove placed as a finalist in the Alliance for Green Heat’s Wood Stove Competition in Washington, D.C. in 2013.

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show


Kiley Jacques is senior editor at Green Building Advisor.

One Comment

  1. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #1

    I just wanted to bump this post for tonight's discussion on masonry heaters. It's sure to be interesting; I doubt anyone knows more about them than Albie and Rod. Tune in to listen, or share questions and comments in the chat box. Register above, it's free!

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