Maintaining Your Pizza Oven During Cold Weather
As it gets colder, many people like to slow down outside activities and spend more time inside. For anyone that has an outdoor pizza oven this is not as simple as just shutting the door on your wood-fired brick oven, as some care needs to be taken over winter.
Ovens are designed for year-round use and some can even be left outside in all weathers. If you have a good oven, regularly fire it up and look after it then there should be no reason to hibernate your oven over winter.
The main things that need to be addressed are the ash inside the oven, the flue system (if using one) and how well insulated it is.
The ash inside the oven needs to be removed. If left over winter, the ashes could corrode the brick work of your oven and rot away at any metal components.
To remove ashes from an outdoor pizza oven, follow these steps:
Make sure the chimney flue is open (ensure there are no blockages or obstructions)
Remove the fire basket, if your oven has one. This is the metal ring that sits in the bottom of the oven and holds burning coals. It will be hot so use gloves to remove it.
Empty any remaining ash into a black bin bag or onto an old tarpaulin spread on the ground away from plants or anything combustible.
Wipe down the inside of the oven to remove any ash which has fallen onto the floor of the oven.
Use a metal poker and scrape out any stubborn bits until all ash is removed and there is nothing left but clean, bare brick work. Use a brush if needed.
Once you have completely emptied your outdoor pizza oven of ash, it is now time to give it a quick wash down with soapy water. This will help remove any leftover ash and dust which could later result in corrosion of the oven.
To do this, use a hose pipe (with pressure) or high pressure cleaner to rinse off any dirt on the outside of your oven. If you don’t have access to these then simply use a wet sponge or brush with soapy water to scrub off any dirt.
Once the outside is clean, load up your fire basket (if you have one) with newspaper and tinder and light it. Put the oven door on but don’t seal it shut yet as air needs to circulate inside.
Let the fire burn for a short while to heat up the inside of your oven.
Once it is warm to touch, open the door slightly so that the flames are not licking against the door frame. This will ensure an even temperature throughout your oven.
Close the door completely once it has reached a comfortable temperature to keep inside.
After a few minutes it will be hot enough to remove any leftover ash. To do this, use a small dustpan and brush or a metal poker to collect the remaining ash from the base of your oven.
Once all of the sooty residue has been removed from your outdoor oven, give it one last scrub down with soapy water to clean it from top to bottom.
Hose down the outside of your oven and let it dry out in the sun before putting it back together and storing away for winter.
If you haven’t used your outdoor pizza oven all year, make sure you clear out any ash – if left over winter it can corrode brick work and metal parts. It is also a good idea to give it a wash down with soapy water. Once clean, let your oven dry out in the sun before covering and storing away for winter.