Can I install my own oven?

Yes. It can be a do-it-yourself project. To install it properly and to keep your oven safe from the elements, you’ll need some skill in concrete and masonry.

What is the optimal height for building my platform for the oven to sit on and/or proper height for the oven floor?

There is no firm rule-of-thumb on this topic. This is a decision that each user will need to make on their own. You need to take into account what is comfortable height for the person who will be doing most of the cooking. Some users prefer the oven floor height at waist/chest level so they can easily see and maneuver pizzas, while others prefer to install the floor at eye-level (or higher) to accommodate their desire for guests to enjoy the hearth experience during and after the cooking process.

What size and type pipe do I need to use for my bundled kit?

To properly fit the anchor plate that we supply (Simpson Duravent model #9441), you should use a Simpson Duravent model #9405 Class “A” 6" Pipe, which you can buy from any building or hearth manufacturer. We require a minimum 24" pipe to achieve proper drafting of our oven. (See pages 6 and 13 of our User Manual.)

Can I put any bends in my pipe when venting the oven?

You can extend your pipe as high as needed if you are going straight up, but should never exceed 30 degrees if a bend is required. (See pages 6 and 13 of our User Manual.)

Do I need the insulating boards if I am installing the oven on a non-combustible base (cement or block) and do I need the insulating blanket if I am encasing the oven in stone or brick?

Yes, it is imperative you install the insulating boards under the hearth, as well as the insulating blanket over the dome per our instructions. (See pages 8-11, 15-17 of our Installation Guide.) The insulating accessories provide a dual benefit of minimizing heat escape outward to the oven surround/base while maximizing heat retention inside the oven. The result will be faster heat times, as well as better thermal properties for low-temperarture cooking.

Do I need a chimney on my oven?

Yes. You will need to install a chimney that meets your local building code. The chimney serves as an airflow regulator, which is essential for controlling the temperature and convection. Your chimney should be at least as tall as the oven is deep.

What else will I need to do to start using my Chicago Brick Oven?

The oven must be installed on a foundation with a covering (dome or shelter) that will give it a finished look and protect it from the elements.

How do I cure my oven?

The curing process for a wood-burning oven varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Though industry best practices suggest you should cure your oven over a three-day period, CBO ovens can be cured in as little as one day. Since we pre-fire our ovens in a kiln during the manufacturing process, most of the water is gone before we ship it out the door. However, there is a small amount of residual water that may remain, so before you use your oven we suggest you to burn-through a 15-20 lb. bag of charcoal over the course of a day or so which seems to work just great. Watch our curing video.

How soon can I use the oven after installation?

Before you cook in it, build a few small fires to cure your oven after installation. Starting a large fire in a new oven could cause it to crack. Be patient! This is the reason you bought a wood-fired brick oven in the first place.

What's the best way to get my fire started?

Once you have properly cured your oven you are ready to fire it for cooking. Always start with dry kindling at the front of the oven. Never use chemicals or starter fluids—you will not need them. Though not recommended, if you opt to use fire starters, you must make sure that the product is 100% natural with no chemicals added (CBO does not assume any liabilty on damages to oven or tainting of foods). Once the fire is going, add small pieces of wood to build the fire. You will want to raise the temperature slowly, and avoid building a huge fire that pours out of the mouth of the oven. We recommend using large chunks of wood once the fire is going strong. You should add these chunks and start to move the fire to the back of the oven approximately 20 minutes before cooking. The entire process should take you 60-90 minutes depending on temperatures outside and elapsed time between oven use. CAUTION: If temperature outside is below 32°F, heat your oven more slowly so as not to cause thermal shock. If your oven has been compromised with moisture or you have gone long periods of time between usage, you need to re-cure your oven!

How long does it take to heat the oven?

To heat the oven, we recommend building a small fire and slowly adding to it to bring up the temperature. This process takes about an hour, depending on the size of your oven. Once it’s hot, you can use your oven for hours.

How do I shut down my oven?

Let the flames burn down, then close the oven door. The oven will cool down over several hours.

How do I clean my flue?

We suggest that you use a stove pipe brush that can be purchased online or at your local hearth supply store.

My door is rusting / oxidizing. What is the best way to restore it to like-new condition?

Our decorative doors are brushed aluminum and tend to oxidize over time. You can take a steel wool pad and gently scrub the door, then repaint it with high-temperature black paint (must be able to withstand heat over 400°F). REMINDER: THE BLACK DOOR IS PURELY DECORATIVE AND SHOULD NEVER BE CLOSED WHEN FIRE IS STILL BURNING AND/OR AT TEMPERATURES GREATER THAN 400°F!

What are basic instructions for high-temperature vs. low-temperature cooking?

  1. High-temperature cooking (over 400°F) should ALWAYS be done as Open-Door Cooking: Keep the fire going in the back of the oven. The oven dome will turn black at first then will turn white as you hit your desired temperature. Sweep out the front of the hearth with a wire brush, and you are ready to cook!
  2. Low-temperature cooking (under 400°F) can be performed as Open-Door or Closed-Door Cooking: Spread the fire throughout the oven. You will store heat in the hearth and dome by burning your fire hot for at least an hour. The longer you burn your fire, the more heat will be stored in the hearth and dome and the longer you will be able to cook. Once the fire has burned down, remove all coals and ashes into your ash bin. Sweep the hearth, and run a light mop (barely wet) across it to remove all ash. Load your oven with foods and close the door. NOTE: THE BLACK DOOR IS PURELY DECORATIVE AND SHOULD NEVER BE CLOSED WHEN FIRE IS STILL BURNING AND/OR AT TEMPERATURES GREATER THAN 400°F!

I cannot get the bottom of my pizzas crisp or cooked evenly. What do I need to do?

Everybody's dough cooks differently depending on amount of water, yeast, etc. in the recipe. Here are a some suggestions:

  1. Make sure you get your oven up to full temperature during the heating process; the majority of the dome should turn from black to the original color when thoroughly heated.
  2. Take a little longer in heating your oven to make sure the hearth really absorbs the heat.
  3. Spread some of the embers over a large area of hearth during heating process.
  4. Remove the majority of the embers from the oven and dispose of them in a firepit/fireplace or metal can (with water in it).
  5. Only use 1-2 small pieces of wood during the cooking process.
  6. Cook your pizzas at a lower temperature (around 600-650°F). It will take a couple minutes longer per pie, but will give the bottom a chance to bake more without over-cooking the top of the pie.
  7. Make sure you are using hard, aged wood to get maximum performance (wood can become wet if sitting outside uncovered).

What besides pizza can I cook in my wood-burning brick oven?

Anything you can cook in your home oven, you can cook in your Chicago Brick Oven—whole turkeys, bread, grinders, chicken, steaks, chops, vegetables, stews, empanadas, desserts and more. Check out these delicious recipes from The Hangout.

When using any Chicago Brick Oven accessory, please do not allow any type of liquid to touch the hearth or dome. For example, when cooking steak on the grill grate, you need to create a bed of coals underneath the grill grate to “catch” the drippings. You could also use the griddle as a “catch basin” underneath the grill grate.

The dome on my new oven has pitting and discoloration. Is that normal?

A certain amount of pitting occurs naturally during the vibration and screeding (leveling and smoothing) techniques used in manufacturing refractory precast shapes. Also, due to the blending of minerals and the high temperatures used to kiln-fire the oven’s dome, hearth and arch, some discoloration can occur. These cosmetic variations are not detrimental to the function of your oven.

I am experiencing small cracks in my oven (mostly the hearth). Is that normal?

Yes, small cracks are common in all wood-burning ovens made from high-temperature refractory, brick, adobe, clay or ceramic type of materials due to the constant cycling of expansion (heating) and contraction (cooling) process. Unlike any of our competitors, CBO does reinforce all our oven components with stainless steel fibers for better strength and support.

I can't get my oven to heat properly. What can I do?

There are a a few things that may be causing this issue. You need to make sure your oven is properly sealed and not taking on moisture (more likely if you had a custom design/build by a contractor). Next, you need to make sure you are using dried/aged hardwoods that get the oven to proper temperature. Once the oven is properly cured, you need to make sure you kick up the heat. That means once the initial fire is going and the flue is heated, you need to add larger pieces of wood as the oven gets up to high temperatures (over 700°F). SPREAD COALS OVER ENTIRE HEARTH AND LET SIT FOR 20 MINUTES!

What size oven should I purchase?

We recommend purchasing an oven size that fits your budget and backyard. However, we don't know any customers who wish they had less cooking surface to work with. This is a case where bigger is better.

What types of ovens are better, refractory concrete, clay or brick?

We’re partial to refractory and brick ovens because of their look and durability. Our first outdoor oven was made of clay, and in the first harsh Chicago winter, it cracked! Refractory ovens are more dependable, but in most cases, the refractory oven has not been fired in the same manner as CBO refractory or brick ovens.

What type of wood should I use?

For best performance, dry and aged hardwood is always preferred. The harder the wood and the longer it is aged, the better. We recommend 2+ years of aging and/or purchasing kiln-dried wood. Soft woods can be used when starting your fire and heating your oven, but it should be noted that they produce as much as 50% less heat so will definitely impact your heat times and should never be used for cooking. It is also recommended that you cover wood if stored outside to keep it from absorbing moisture. CAUTION: You should never use resinous or treated woods which can be dangerous to your health.

Where is the best place to buy my wood?

Depending on where you live, you should be able to locate the wood at a local fireplace wood supplier. Please make sure you stress the need for hard, aged wood. We also suggest you request that your wood be cut in smaller pieces (2" diameter, 12" long); although you can use larger pieces during the oven heating process!

Can the oven be used in all climates?

Yes. You can use the oven year-round in any climate. The structure you build around the oven must keep the elements out and the oven dry.

Can I have a wood-fired Chicago Brick Oven indoors?

Yes. You must check your local building codes for all the details, but it will certainly work indoors. Our commercial hybrid models with gas assist (Natural Gas or Propane Gas) are certified for both indoor and outdoor use, but note our residential hybrid models are certified for outdoor use only.

How much do the ovens weigh?

The Model CBO-500 Oven weighs 300 lbs. The Model CBO-750 Oven weighs 480 lbs. While comparatively lightweight, both ovens do require a properly poured foundation.

How are your ovens shipped?

We take extra effort to ensure our ovens are shipped safely. Each oven is palletized with a protective crate built around it.

Is the oven safe around children?

Anytime you have fire, there is some danger. The outside of the oven will be hot to the touch; just how hot depends on the design and use of insulation. If installed properly, the oven should not pose any more danger than a BBQ grill.

What accessories come with the purchase of a Chicago Brick Oven?

Every Chicago Brick Oven comes with insulation, a decorative door and a pizza peel.


Additional Resources

CBO Assembly Overview from Chicago Brick Oven on Vimeo.

Always Here to Help

It’s important to us that every Chicago Brick Oven we sell meets or exceeds the expectations of our customers. On this page, you’ll also find answers to the most common questions of Chicago Brick Oven owners. If you have a question or issue that’s not addressed here, please call us at +1-630-359-4793 or email us at info@chicagobrickoven.com.