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Tacuinum Sanitatis, 14th century

A fireplace or hearth is a structure made of brick, stone or metal designed to contain a fire. Fireplaces are used for heating a room and for the relaxing ambiance they create. Historically, they were used for heating a dwelling, cooking, and heating water for laundry and domestic uses. A fire is contained in a firebox or fire pit; a chimney or other flue allows exhaust gas to escape. A fireplace may have the following: foundation, hearth, firebox, mantel, chimney crane (used in kitchen and laundry fireplaces), grate, lintel, lintel bar, overmantel, damper, smoke chamber, throat, flue, and chimney filter or afterburner. Fireplaces vary in heat efficiency, depending on the design.


  • I interrupted the old man in midsentence and stood straight up from the rocker. It felt as if a pulse of energy ran up my spine, compressing my lungs, electrifying my skin, bringing the hairs on the back of my neck to full alert. I moved closer to the fireplace, unable to absorb its heat.
    "Are you saying what I think you're saying?" My brain was taking on too much knowledge. There was overflow and I needed to shake off the excess.
    The old man looked at nothing and said, "We are God's debris."
  • Gwell eo beroù war an oaled / Eget e ti marc'h rous ar pried (Better skewers on the fireplace than in the spouse's russet horse shed.)
  • In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. "So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room," thought Alice: "warmer, in fact, because there'll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it'll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can't get at me!"
  • In the winter on a Sunday afternoon, I can spend six hours in front of the fireplace, just looking at the flames and thinking. In the evening, I’m drunk with beautiful thoughts. My wife says to me, ‘What are you looking at?’ I say, ‘The fire.’ We have to take a step backward.
  • There is nothing of greater interest connected with the Durham furnace than the manufacture of iron stove plates and their artistic embellishments. ...[T]he manufacture of iron stoves, for heating of buildings, was begun at the furnace about 1741, when controlled by George Taylor, James Logan and James Morgan, father of General Daniel Morgan, iron master. These were called the "Adam and Eve" stoves from the figures, cast on them. ...In 1745, the furnace began casting the famous "Franklin Stove," or fire-place, and continued until it blew out, 1793. They were favorably received and with minor improvements, extensively manufactured. It was the first stove made that could be utilized for baking and cooking, having an extra door above the fuel door, a plate the whole length of the stove and a descending flue the same as the Prince Rupert stove, 1678, cast in England. It was improved, 1754, by a door on one side. This was known as the Philadelphia pattern, though smaller in size. The Franklin sold at £4. 6s, each at the furnace, and at Philadelphia £18 per ton, the price varying with the metal. About 1775, a stove pattern, artistically decorated with a bony skeleton inscribed on the center of the side plates, grasping a bone in one hand in the act of striking a man, near the end of the plate, while another figure on rear end of plate is standing in a frightened attitude looking on the unequal battle. Beneath the figures is the following inscription:
    A free translation of this Swedish-German is "Here (man) presumes to fight with me, bitter death, but he cannot overcome death."
    • William Watts Hart Davis, Warren Smedley Ely, John Woolf Jordan, History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania From the Discovery of the Delaware to the Present Time Vol. II (1905) p. 148.
  • "Do not repine, my friends," said Mr. Pecksniff, tenderly. "Do not weep for me. It is chronic." And with these words, after making a futile attempt to pull off his shoes, he fell into the fireplace.
  • Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
    Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
    Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
    Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
    And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
    The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
    Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
    Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
    In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
  • Here's a list of Dutch paintings intended for the Salon:
    - Israëls, ...[Old Friends (Silent Conversation)] an old man sits in a hut by the fireplace in which a small piece of peat barely glows in the twilight. For it's a dark hut... His dog, who's grown old with him, sits beside him–those two old creatures look at each other, they look each other in the eye, the dog and the old man. ...Nothing else – the twilight, the quiet, the loneliness of those two old creatures, man and dog... that old man thinking... that face – a melancholy, satisfied, submissive expression.. .I definitely know of no other painting than this Israëls that can stand up to Millet's 'Death and the Woodcutter'... on the other hand I know of no other painting that could stand up to this Israëls than Millet's Death and the woodcutter... Moreover, I feel in my mind an irresistible desire to bring together that painting by Israëls and that other by Millet and make them complement each other..
  • It happened because one day I was sitting one side of the fireplace, and my wife was sitting on the other, and I suddenly said to her, "Wouldn’t it be a good idea to write a story about some boys on an island, showing how they would really behave, being boys and not little saints as they usually are in children’s books.” And she said, "That’s a first-class idea! You write it!" So I went ahead and wrote it.
  • Lele liilii ka lehu o kapuahi (He is scattering the ashes of the fireplace).
    • Hawaiian proverb, said of one whose wrath sends everybody going in all directions to get out of his way, Hawaiian Almanac and Annual (1883) ed., H. L. Sheldon & C.M. Hyde, pp. 52-58.
  • The prisoner was no longer fastened to the bed save by one leg.
    Before the seven men had had time to recover themselves and spring upon him, he had bent over to the fireplace, reached his hand towards the furnace, then rose up, and now Thenardier, the Thenardiess, and the bandits, thrown by the shock into the back part of the room, beheld him with stupefaction, holding above his head the glowing chisel, from which fell an ominous light, almost free and in a formidable attitude.
  • The grate had been removed from the wide overwhelming fireplace, to make way for a fire of wood, in the midst of which was an enormous log glowing and blazing, and sending forth a vast volume of light and heat; this I understood was the Yule-log, which the Squire was particular in having brought in and illumined on a Christmas eve, according to ancient custom.
  • Our society, it turns out, can use modern art. A restaurant, today, will order a mural by Míro in as easy and matter-of-fact a spirit as, twenty-five years ago, it would have ordered one by Maxfield Parrish. The president of a paint factory goes home, sits down by his fireplace — it looks like a chromium aquarium set into the wall by a wall-safe company that has branched out into interior decorating, but there is a log burning in it, he calls it a fireplace, let’s call it a fireplace too — the president sits down, folds his hands on his stomach, and stares at two paintings by Jackson Pollock that he has hung on the wall opposite him. He feels at home with them; in fact, as he looks at them he not only feels at home, he feels as if he were back at the paint factory.
    • Randall Jarrell, "The Taste of the Age" (1962) A Sad Heart at the Supermarket: Essays & Fables) pp. 19–20.
  • A good night for the fireplace to be
    crackling with flames - or so he figured,
    Crumpling the papers he could only see
    As testimonials to long plateaus of emptiness.
  • A woman who taught at Berkeley dropped in on me once and saw a book burning in the fireplace. She pointed at it in terror, and I explained that it was a crummy ghostwritten life of a movie star and that it was an act of sanitation to burn it rather than sending it out into the world which was already clogged with too many copies of it. But she said, "You shouldn’t burn books" and began to cry.
  • And I live with the dead – my mother, my sister, my grandfather, my father... .Every day is the same – my friends have stopped coming – their laughter disturbs me, tortures me.. daily walk round the old castle becomes shorter and shorter, it tires me more and more to take walks. The fire in the fireplace is my only friend – the time I spend sitting in front of the fireplace gets longer and longer.. its worst I lean my head against the fireplace overwhelmed by the sudden urge – Kill yourself and then it’s all over. Why live? I light the candle – my huge shadow springs across half the wall, clear up to the ceiling and in the mirror over the fireplace I see the face of my own ghost.
    • Edvard Muncha note from Saint Cloud, 1898; as quoted in Edvard Much – behind the scream, Sue Prideaux; Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2007, p. 115.
  • All these people come to see the White House and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948. Every boy who comes here should see things that develop his sense of history. For the girls, the house should look beautiful and lived-in. They should see what a fire in the fireplace and pretty flowers can do for a house; the White House rooms should give them a sense of all that. Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to "redecorate" it—a word I hate. It must be restored—and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.
  • There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won't have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, "Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana." No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, "Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!
  • In small rooms... the chimney often smokes unless the door or window be open, not only because the fire devours and carries off a large quantity of the air of the room, but also because the fire requires a continual supply of air for its support; so that, if a proportional quantity of air which the fire consumes and sends up the chimney does not enter the room (which it cannot do in small rooms with a large fire), the fire languishes, and the smoke increases, since flame is nothing more than a kindled smoke, and smoke is only an extinguished flame, or, at least, not yet kindled.
    • Louis Savot, L' Architecture Frangoise des Bastimens particuliers (1624) as translated by Charles Tomlinson A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864) p. 82.
  • I don't approve of open fires. You can't think, or talk or even make love in front of a fireplace. All you can do is stare at it.
    • Rex Stout, "Author Rex Stout vs. the F.B.I." (Dec 10, 1965) Life magazine, observations Rex Stout made in conversation with reporter Sandra Schmidt, p. 132.
  • Take a look at the simplest of objects. Let's take, for example, an old chair. It seems like nothing. But think of the universe comprised within it: the sweaty hands cutting the wood that used to be a robust tree, full of energy, in the middle of a luxuriant forest by some high mountains. The loving work that built it, the joyful anticipation of the one who bought it, the tired bodies it has helped, the pains and the joys it must have endured, whether in fancy halls or in a humble dining room in your neighbourhood. Everything, everything shares life and has its importance! Even the most worn down of chair carries inside the initial force of the sap climbing from the earth, out there in the forest, and will still be useful the day when, broken into kindling, it burns in some fireplace.
    • Antoni Tàpies, describing a children's game in his essay, "Tàpies suggests looking at a chair" 'El joc de saber mirar' ('The Game of Knowing How to Look'), Antoni Tàpies, Cavall Fort, núm 82, Barcelona, gener de 1967, Tr. from Catalan; as quoted in: 'Tàpies: From Within' (June─ November, 2013) - Presse Release, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) p. 16, note 9.
  • Lyndon's gone and dragged Nasser away from the fireplace and onto the balcony again. Once you get him out there, it's a helluva job to get him back to the fireplace again.
    • An American official as quoted in "Egypt: Back to the Balcony" (4 March 1966) Time magazine.

Fumifugium (1661)[edit]

; Or, the Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoake of London Dissipated. Together With some Remedies humbly proposed By [John Evelyn] J. E. Esq; To His Sacred Majestie and To the Parliament now Assmbled. Lucret. 1. 5. Carbonumque gravis vis, atque odor infininuatr Quam facile in cerebrum? A source.
  • Till more effectual methods can take place, it would be of great service, to oblige all those Trades who make use of large Fires, to carry their Chimnies much higher into the air than they are at present...
    • Preface by the Editor (1772) edition.
  • Workmen should be consulted, and encouraged to make experiments, whether a particular construction of the Chimnies would not assist in conveying off the Smoke, and in fending it higher into the air before it is dispersed.
    • Preface by the Editor (1772) edition.
  • [N]ear half the children that are born and bred in London die under two years of age. ...[T]he constant and unremitting Poison is communicated by the foul Air, which, as the Town still grows larger, has made regular and steady advances in its fatal influence. ...[W]e are accustomed to read with great composure of the deaths of thosands of infants, suffocated every Year by Smoke and Stenches which good policy might in a great measure remove.
    • Preface by the Editor (1772) edition.
  • And what is all this, but that Hellish and dismall Cloud of SEA-COALE? which is not onely perpetually imminent over her head... so universally mixed with the otherwise wholsome and excellent Aer, that her Inhabitants breathe nothing but an impure and thick Mist, accompanied with a fuliginous and filthy vapour, which renders them obnoxious to a thousand inconveniences, corrupting the Lungs, and disordering the entire habit of their Bodies; so that Catharrs, Phthisicks, Coughs and Consumptions, rage more in this one City, than in the whole Earth besides.
  • [N]ot from the Culinary fires, which for being weak, and lesse often fed below, is with such ease dispelled and scattered above, as it is hardly at all discernible, but from some few particular Tunnells and Issues, belonging only to Brewers, Diers, Lime-burners, Salt, and Sope-boylers, and some other private Trades, One of whose Spiracles alone, does manifestly infest the Aer, more than all the Chimnies of London put together besides.
  • Whilst these are belching it forth their sooty jaws, the City of London resembles the face rather of Mount Ætna, the Court of Vulcan, Stromboli, or the Suburbs of Hell, than an Assembly of Rational Creatures... For when in all other places the Aer is most Serene and Pure, it is here Ecclipsed with such a Cloud of Sulphure, as the Sun itself... is hardly able to penetrate... and the weary Traveller, at many Miles distance, sooner smells, than sees the City to which he repairs.

Fires Improved (1716)[edit]

: Or, A New Method Of Building Chimnies, So as to prevent their Smoking. In Which A Small Fire, shall warm a Room much better than a Large One made the Common Way. And the Method of altering such Chimnies as are already Built, so that they shall perform the same Effects. [La Mechanique du Feu, ou L'Art d'en augmenter les effets et d'en diminuer la dépense, contenant le Traité de Nouvelles Cheminées qui echauffent plus que les Cheminées ordinaires, et qui ne sont point sujettes à fumer] (1713) By Monsieur Gauger [Melchior Cardinal de Polignac]. Made English from the French Original (1716) By J. T. Desaguliers as quoted in A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864) by Charles Tomlinson
  • It seems that those who have hitherto built or caused chimneys to be erected, have only taken care to contrive in the chambers certain places where wood may be burnt, without making a due reflection that the wood in burning ought to warm those chambers, and the persons who are in them; at least, it is certain that but a very little heat is felt of the fire made in the ordinary chimneys, and that they might be ordered so as to send forth a great deal more, only by changing the disposition of their jambs and wings.
  • A plate of iron or copper bowed or bended after such a manner as is not at all disagreeable to the sight; a void behind, divided by certain small iron bands or partition plates, forming several spaces that have a communication one with another; a little vent hole in the middle of the hearth, a register plate in the upper part of the funnel; and for some shafts, a capital on the top, make up the whole construction and workmanship of our modern chimney. Now, can there be anything more simple or plain, or more easy to execute?
  • To be able to kindle a fire speedily, and make it, if you please, flame continually, whatever wood is burning, without the use of bellows; to give heat to a spacious room, and even to another adjoining, with a little fire; to warm one's self at the same time on all sides, be the weather ever so cold, without scorching; to breathe a pure air always fresh, and to such a degree of warmth as is thought fit; to be never annoyed with smoke in one's apartment, nor have any moisture therein; to quench by one's self, and in an instant, any fire that may catch in the tunnel of a chimney; all these are but a few of the effects and properties of these wonderful machines, not withstanding their apparent simplicity. Since I used this sort of chimney, I have not been troubled one moment with smoke, in a lodging which it rendered before untenable as soon as a fire was lighted; I have always inhaled, even during the sharpest seasons, a fresh air like that of the spring. In 1709, water that froze hard everywhere else very near the hearth, did not congeal at night in my chamber, though the fire was put out before midnight; and all that was brought thither in the day soon thawed; neither did I ever perceive the least moisture in winter, not even during thaws.

An Account of the New-Invented Fire-Places (1744)[edit]

; Wherein Their Construction and Manner of Operation is Particularly Explained: Their Advantages above every other Method of Warming Rooms Demonstrated; and all other Objections that have been raised against the Use of Them Answered and Obviated. With Directions for Putting Them Up, and for Using Them to the Best Advantage. And a Copper-Plate in which Several Parts of the Machine are Exactly Laid Down, from a Scale of Equal Parts. By Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin (1838) Containing Several Political and Historical Tracts Not Included in Any Former Ed., and Many Letters Official and Private, Not Hitherto Published; with Notes and a Life of the Author. Vol. 6, pp. 34 ff.
Franklin stove cross-section
  • In an edition of the author's writings on electrical and philosophical subjects, published in London in the year 1769, the following note is appended to this tract. "Soon after the foregoing piece was published, some persons in England, in imitation of Mr. Franklin's invention, made what they call 'Pennsylvanian Fire-places, with improvements'; the principal of which pretended improvements is, a contraction of the passages in the air-box, originally designed for admitting a quantity of fresh air, and warming it as it entered the room. The contracting [of] these passages gains indeed more room for the grate, but in a great measure defeats their intention. For, if the passages in the air-box do not greatly exceed in dimensions the amount of all the crevices by which cold air can enter the room, they will not considerably prevent, as they were intended, the entry of cold air through the crevices."
    • Editor's Note
  • [A]ny new proposal for saving the wood, and for lessening the charge and augmenting the benefit of fire, by some particular method of making and managing it, may at least be thought worth consideration.
  • 1. Air is rarefied by heat, and condensed by cold, that is, the same quantity of air takes up more space when warm than when cold. This may be shown... Take any clear glass bottle (a Florence flask stript of the straw is best), place it before the fire, and, as the air within is warmed and rarefied, part of it will be driven out of the bottle; turn it up, place its mouth in a vessel of water, and remove it from the fire; then, as the air within cools and contracts, you will see the water rise in the neck of the bottle, supplying the place of just so much air as was driven out. Hold a large hot coal near the side of the bottle, and, as the air within feels the heat, it will again distend and force out the water. Or, fill a bladder not quite full of air, tie the neck tight, and lay it before a fire as near as may be without scorching the bladder; as the air within heats, you will perceive it to swell and fill the bladder, till it becomes tight, as if full blown; remove it to a cool place, and you will see it fall gradually, till it becomes as lank as at first.
  • 2. Air rarefied and distended by heat is specifically lighter than it was before, and will rise in other air of greater density. As wood, oil, or any other matter specifically lighter than water, if placed at the bottom of a vessel of water will rise till it comes to the top; so rarefied air will rise in common air, till it either comes to air of equal weight, or is by cold reduced to its former density.
  • [I]n any chimney, the air over the fire is rarefied by the heat, becomes lighter, and therefore immediately rises in the funnel, and goes out; the other air in the room (flowing towards the chimney) supplies its place, is rarefied in its turn, and rises likewise; the place of the air thus carried out of the room, is supplied by fresh air coming in through doors and windows, or, if they be shut, through every crevice with violence, as may be seen by holding a candle to a key-hole.
  • If the room be so tight as that all the crevices together will not supply so much air as is continually carried off, then, in a little time, the current up the funnel must flag, and the smoke, being no longer driven up, must come into the room.
  • 1. Fire... throws out light, heat, and smoke (or fume.) The [first] two... move in right lines, and with great swiftness; the latter is but just separated from the fuel, and then moves only as it is carried by the stream of rarefied air; and without a continual accession and recession of air, to carry off the smoky fumes, they would remain crowded about the fire, and stifle it.
  • 2. Heat may be separated from the smoke as well as from the light, by means of a plate of iron, which will suffer heat to pass through it without the others.
  • 3. Fire sends out its rays of heat, as well as rays of light, equally every way; but the greatest sensible heat is over the fire, where there is, besides the rays of heat shot upwards, a continual rising stream of hot air, heated by the rays shot round on every side.
  • [C]onsider the fire-places heretofore in use, viz.
    1. The large open fire-places used in the days of our fathers, and still generally in the country, and in kitchens.
    2. The newer-fashioned fire-places, with low breasts and narrow hearths.
    3. Fire-places with hollow backs, hearths and jambs of iron, (described by M. Gauger, in his tract entitled La Méchanique de Feu,) for warming the air as it comes into the room.
    4. The Holland stoves, with iron doors opening into the room.
    5. The German stoves, which have no opening in the room where they are used, but the fire is put in from some other room, or from without.
    6. Iron pots, with open charcoal fires, placed in the middle of a room.
  • 1. The first of these methods has generally the conveniency of two warm seats, one in each corner; but they are sometimes too hot to abide in, and, at other times, incommoded with the smoke; there is likewise good room for the cook to move, to hang on pots, &c. Their inconveniences are, that they almost always smoke, if the door be not left open; that they require a large funnel, and a large funnel carries off a great quantity of air, which occasions what is called a strong draft to the chimney, without which strong draft the smoke would come out of some part or other of so large an opening, so that the door can seldom be shut; and the cold air so nips the backs and heels of those that sit before the fire, that they have no comfort till either screens or settles are provided (at a considerable expense) to keep it off, which both cumber the room, and darken the fire-side. A moderate quantity of wood on the fire, in so large a hearth, seems but little; and, in so strong and cold a draft, warms but little; so that people are continually laying on more. In short, it is next to impossible to warm a room with such a fire place; and I suppose our ancestors never thought of warming rooms to sit in; all they purposed was, to have a place to make a fire in, by which they might warm themselves when cold.
  • 2. Most of these old-fashioned chimneys in towns and cities have been, of late years, reduced to the second sort mentioned, by building jambs within them, narrowing the hearth, and making a low arch or breast. It is strange, methinks, that though chimneys have been so long in use, their construction should be so little understood till lately, that no workman pretended to make one which should always carry off all smoke, but a chimney-cloth was looked upon as essential to a chimney. This improvement, however, by small openings and low breasts, has been made in our days; and success in the first experiments has brought it into general use in cities, so that almost all new chimneys are now made of that sort, and much fewer bricks will make a stack of chimneys now than formerly. An improvement so lately made may give us room to believe, that still farther improvements may be found to remedy the inconveniences yet remaining. For these new chimneys, though they keep rooms generally free from smoke, and, the opening being contracted, will allow the [house] door to be shut, yet, the funnel still requiring a considerable quantity of air, it rushes in at every crevice so strongly, as to make a continual whistling or howling; and it is very uncomfortable, as well as dangerous, to sit against any such crevice. Many colds are caught from this cause only, it being safer to sit in the open street; for then the pores do all close together, and the air does not strike so sharply against any particular part of the body.
  • [M]any of the diseases proceeding from colds, as fevers, pleurisies, &c., fatal to very great numbers of people, may be ascribed to strong-drawing chimneys, whereby, in severe weather, a man is scorched before, while he is froze behind.
  • In the mean time, very little is done by these chimneys towards warming the room; for the air round the fire-place, which is warmed by the direct rays from the fire, does not continue in the room, but is continually crowded and gathered into the chimney by the current of cold air coming behind it, and so is presently carried off.
  • In both these sorts of fire-places, the greatest part of the heat from the fire is lost; for, as fire naturally darts heat every way, the back, the two jambs, and the hearth drink up almost all that is given them, very little being reflected from bodies so dark, porous, and unpolished; and the upright heat, which is by far the greatest, flies directly up the chimney. Thus five sixths at least of the heat (and consequently of the fuel) is wasted, and contributes nothing towards warming the room.
  • 3. To remedy this, the Sieur Gauger gives, in his book, entitled La Méchanique de Feu, published in 1709, seven different constructions of the third sort of chimneys mentioned above, in which there are hollow cavities made by iron plates in the back, jambs, and hearths, through which plates the heat passing warms the air in those cavities, which is continually coming into the room fresh and warm. The invention was very ingenious, and had many conveniences; the room was warmed in all parts, by the air flowing into it through the heated cavities; cold air was prevented rushing through the crevices, the funnel being sufficiently supplied by those cavities; much less fuel would serve, &c. But the first expense, which was very great, the intricacy of the design, and the difficulty of the execution, especially in old chimneys, discouraged the propagation of the invention; so that there are, I suppose, very few such chimneys now in use. The upright heat, too, was almost all lost in these, as in the common chimneys.
  • 4. The Holland iron stove, which has a flue proceeding from the top, and a small iron door opening into the room, comes next to be considered. Its conveniences are, that it makes a room all over warm; for, the chimney being wholly closed except the flue of the stove, very little air is required to supply that, and therefore not much rushes in at crevices, or at the door when it is opened. Little fuel serves, the heat being almost all saved; for it rays out almost equally from the four sides, the bottom, and the top, into the room , and presently warms the air around it, which, being rarefied, rises to the ceiling, and its place is supplied by the lower air of the room, which flows gradually towards the stove, and is there warmed, and rises in its turn, so that there is a continual circulation till all the air in the room is warmed. The air, too, is gradually changed, by the stove-door's being in the room, through which part of it is continually passing, and that makes these stoves wholesomer, or at least pleasanter than the German stoves... But... There is no sight of the fire... When the room is warm, people, not seeing the fire, are apt to forget supplying it with fuel... The change of air is not carried on quite quick enough; so that, if any smoke or ill smell happens in the room, it is a long time before it is discharged. For these reasons the Holland stove has not obtained much among the English (who love the sight of the fire) unless in some workshops...
  • 5. The German stove is like a box, one side wanting. It is composed of five iron plates, screwed together, and fixed so as that you may put the fuel into it from another room, or from the outside of the house. It is a kind of oven reversed, its mouth being without, and body within, the room that is to be warmed by it. This invention certainly warms a room very speedily and thoroughly with little fuel; no quantity of cold air comes in at any crevice, because there is no discharge of air which it might supply, there being no passage into the stove from the room. ...Its inconveniences are, that people have not even so much sight or use of the fire as in the Holland stoves, and are, moreover, obliged to breathe the same unchanged air continually, mixed with the breath and perspiration from one another's bodies, which is very disagreeable to those who have not been accustomed to it.
  • 6. Charcoal fires in pots are used chiefly in the shops of handicraftsmen. They warm a room (that is kept close, and has no chimney to carry off the warmed air,) very speedily and uniformly; but, there being no draft to change the air, the sulphurous fumes from the coals (be they ever so well kindled before they are brought in, there will be some,) mix with it, render it disagreeable, hurtful to some constitutions, and some times, when the door is long kept shut, produce fatal consequences.
  • To avoid the several inconveniences, and at the same time retain all the advantages of other fire-places, was contrived the PENNSYLVANIAN FIRE-PLACE, now to be described.
  • [T]he flame and smoke will ascend and strike the top... which will thereby receive a considerable heat. The smoke, finding no passage upwards, turns over the top of the air-box, and descends between it and the back plate to the holes in the bottom plate, heating, as it passes, both plates of the air-box, and the said back plate; the front plate, bottom and side plates are also all heated at the same time. The smoke proceeds in the passage that leads it under and behind the false back, and so rises into the chimney.
  • The air of the room, warmed behind the back plate, and by the sides, front, and top plates, becoming specifically lighter than the other air in the room, is obliged to rise; but the closure over the fire place hindering it from going up the chimney, it is forced out into the room, rises by the mantel-piece to the ceiling, and spreads all over the top of the room, whence being crowded down gradually by the stream of newly-warmed air that follows and rises above it, the whole room becomes in a short time equally warmed.
  • At the same time, the air, warmed under the bottom plate and in the air-box, rises and comes out of the holes in the side plates, very swiftly, if the door of the room be shut, and joins its current with the stream before mentioned, rising from the side, back, and top plates.
  • The air that enters the room through the air-box is fresh, though warm; and, computing the swiftness of its motion with the areas of the holes, it is found that near ten barrels of fresh air are hourly introduced by the air-box; and by this means the air in the room is continually changed, and kept at the same time sweet and warm.
  • It is to be observed, that the entering air will not be warm at first lighting the fire, but heats gradually as the fire increases.
  • Its advantages above the common fire-places are,
    1. That your whole room is equally warmed, so that people need not crowd so close round the fire, but may sit near the window, and have the benefit of the light for reading, writing, needlework, &c. They may sit with comfort in any part of the room...
    2. If you sit near the fire, you have not that cold draft of uncomfortable air nipping your back and heels, as when before common fires, by which many catch cold, being scorched before, and... froze behind.
    3. If you sit against a crevice, there is not that sharp draft of cold air playing on you, as in rooms where there are fires in the common way; by which many catch cold, whence proceed coughs, catarrhs, tooth-aches, fevers, pleurisies, and many other diseases.
    4. In case of sickness, they make most excellent nursing-rooms; as they constantly supply a sufficiency of fresh air, so warmed at the same time as to be no way inconvenient or dangerous. A small one does well in a chamber; and, the chimneys being fitted for it, it may be removed from one room to another, as occasion requires, and fixed in half an hour. The equal temper, too, and warmth of the air of the room, is thought to be particularly advantageous in some distempers...
    5. In common chimneys, the strongest heat from the fire, which is upwards, goes directly up the chimney, and is lost; and there is such a strong draft into the chimney, that not only the upright heat, but also the back, sides, and downward heats are carried up the chimney by that draft of air; and the warmth given before the fire, by the rays that strike out towards the room, is continually driven back, crowded into the chimney, and carried up by the same draft of air. But here the upright heat strikes and heats the top plate, which warms the air above it, and that comes into the room. The heat likewise, which the fire communicates to the sides, back, bottom, and air-box, is all brought into the room; for you will find a constant current of warm air coming out of the chimney corner into the room. Hold a candle just under the mantel-piece, or breast of your chimney, and you will see the flame bent outwards; by laying a piece of smoking paper on the hearth, on either side, you may see how the current of air moves, and where it tends, for it will turn and carry the smoke with it.
    6. Thus, as very little of the heat is lost, when this fire-place is used, much less wood will serve you, which is a considerable advantage where wood is dear.
    7. When you burn candles near this fire-place, you will find that the flame burns quite upright, and does not blare and run the tallow down, by drawing towards the chimney, as against common fires.
    8. This fire-place cures most smoky chimneys, and thereby preserves both the eyes and furniture.
    9. It prevents the fouling of chimneys; much of the lint and dust that contributes to foul a chimney being, by the low arch, obliged to pass through the flame, where it is consumed. Then, less wood being burnt, there is less smoke made. Again, the shutter, or trap-bellows, soon blowing the wood into a flame, the same wood does not yield so much smoke as if burnt in a common chimney; for, as soon as flame begins, smoke in proportion ceases.
    10. And, if a chimney should be foul, it is much less likely to take fire. If it should take fire, it is easily stifled and extinguished.
    11. A fire may be very speedily made in this fire-place by the help of the shutter, or trap-bellows...
    12. A fire may be soon extinguished by closing it with the shutter before, and turning the register behind, which will stifle it, and the brands will remain ready to rekindle.
    13. The room being once warm, the warmth may be retained in it all night.
    14. And lastly, the fire is so secured at night, that not one spark can fly out into the room to do damage.
  • With all these conveniences, you do not lose the pleasing sight nor use of the fire, as in the Dutch stoves, but may boil the tea-kettle, warm the flat irons, heat heaters, keep warm a dish of victuals by setting it on the top, &c.
  • We leave it to the political arithmetician to compute how much money will be saved to a country, by its spending two thirds less of fuel; how much labor saved in cutting and carriage of it; how much more land may be cleared by cultivation; how great the profit by the additional quantity of work done, in those trades particularly that do not exercise the body so much, but that the workfolks are obliged to run frequently to the fire to warm themselves; and to physicians to say, how much healthier thick-built towns and cities will be, now half suffocated with sulphury smoke, when so much less of that smoke shall be made, and the air breathed by the inhabitants be consequently so much purer.

A Practical Treatise on Chimneys (1777)[edit]

Containing Full Directions for Preventing or Removing Smoke in Houses Illustrated with Eighteen Figures Engraved on Copper. By James Anderson. A source.
Fig 1-18, A Practical Treatise on Chimneys (1777) by James Anderson
  • [T]he builder of chimneys has been left to grope his way in the dark without assistant; and in almost every instance his attempts to improve upon the practice of his predecessors, have been unsuccessful; so that the inhabitants of these countries, with justice, complain that the inconveniencies felt in new houses from this cause, usually are more than sufficient to counterbalance all the elegancies that modern refinement has introduced into the dwellings...
  • [T]he causes which produce smoke in rooms... may be all reduced to one of the three following general classes:
    1. A faulty construction of the tube, vent, or chimney itself;
    2. To some fault in the other parts of the building, and a wrong position of the chimney with respect to these; or,
    3. To an improper situation of the house with respect to external objects.
  • The earth is every where surrounded with a great body of air, that is called the atmosphere. This air is a thin elastic fluid, possessing some qualities peculiar to itself, but subjected in general to the same physical laws with other fluids; and of consequence it hath a constant tendency to preserve an exact equilibrium in all its parts; so that if at any time the weight of it at one place is diminished, the heavier air rushes from all sides towards that point, till the equilibrium be again restored.
  • Many are the causes that may tend to destroy this equilibrium of the atmosphere; but the only one that it imports our present discussion to explain the effects of, is heat.
  • When heat acts upon the air, it immediately makes it expand to a great degree, so as that the same quantity of it occupies a much larger space than formerly. Hence... where a fire is kindled, the air immediately contiguous to it will be heated, and of consequence rarefied, and made lighter...
  • [A]s it is an invariable rule among all fluids, that those which are lightest rise upwards, and at length swim upon the top of such as are more weighty... so... that when any particles of the same fluid are... rendered lighter, or more weighty, than other parts... they either rise to the top, and give place to the more dense and weighty parts of it, or sink to the bottom, and force the warmer fluid to the surface.
  • It is owing to this cause that the water at the top of a caldron, before it begins to boil, is always as warm, or warmer, than what is below:—for the particles of water that touch the bottom are no sooner acted upon by the heat below, than they become warmer, and more expanded, than those immediately above them, and therefore rise directly upwards, and give place to denser cold particles, which are forced in their turn to ascend in like manner towards the top.
  • In the same manner... when the air contiguous to a fire is heated... it is immediately expanded very much; and therefore instantly rises upwards, till it reaches the higher regions of the atmosphere, or is cooled by gradually mixing with the denser air it meets with in its ascent:—and as its place contiguous to the fire is immediately occupied by the cold dense air around it, which rushes from every side towards that point, it is heated and rarefied in its turn, and ascends in the same manner, carrying the smoke that rises from the burning body along with it.
  • It is in this manner that the constant suction of air towards every fire is produced; and from this cause proceeds the continual tendency of smoke to ascend from the surface of the earth, unless where some circumstance interrupts the course of nature.
  • [M]en... disccovered, that when the fire was surrounded with a wall to any considerable height, the motion of the wind was interrupted by it, and the smoke allowed to rise upwards till it reached the top of the building.—The free ascent of this disagreeble vapour... was promoted by the addition of a roof... Hence... in every part of the globe the first and most simple huts... are circular buildings, with a conical roof; in the middle of which, for the most part, is left a hole for the emission of the smoke; the fire having been placed in the centre of the building immediately below the opening, which served instead of a window, as well as a vent-hole for the smoke.
  • [A]s luxury encreased, and the elegant arts became more common... fire places were contracted to a narrower size.——The grate, instead of being placed in the middle of a large area, with seats around it, was pushed close to the back wall. The width of the opening of the vent, was found to be sufficient if it contained the whole of the grate;—and as the fire warmed the room more effectually when it came well forward, the grate was brought as far into the apartment as could be done.—The pipe of the chimney was contracted to such dimensions as to admit of being contained within the thickness of an ordinary wall, and reduced to that elegant and commodious tube now known by the name of chimney.
  • [H]igh [longer] chimneys... have a greater suction of air, and are less liable to vent ill, than low ones, and this is one principal reason why in the same house the chimneys in the garrets, and the higher stories, are more apt to vent ill, than those on the floor, where the chimneys are of necessity longer.
    A smoky chimney, therefore, may sometimes be cured, merely by raising it higher...
  • A chimney may not only be defective by having the mantle too high, or by being too wide from side to side, but also by being too deep between the fore-side and the back, as is often the case in very old houses. In this case, the distance between the fire and the mantle is so great, that much air passes up without being sufficiently rarefied... This fault may be sometimes cured, by bringing the grate a little forward, which, by making the fire act more powerfully upon the mantle, rarefies the air more in its passage.
  • [W]hen the grate is brought forward, there is a great vacancy left between it and the back of the chimney, so... air passes under the grate, and ascends behind it very little rarefied; so... there will be as much lost in this way as will be gained in the other: and as there is not enough of heated air... to make the vapour ascend with rapidity, they are often choaked with thick fuliginous vapours hanging in them, almost in equilibrio with the rest of the atmosphere, so that the least puff of wind beats them down the chimney, and pushes the smoke into the room; whereas, when it is far back, it is driven down upon the hearth, and rises upwards again when the gust is over, and a great deal of it is catched within the mantle as it rises, which in the other case would have been dispersed through the room.
  • When this is the case the most effectual method... is, to bring the grate forward till the forepart of it is immediately under the inner edge of the mantle; then build up the vacancy at the back of it, the whole width of the fire-place from side to side, raising it perpendicularly till it is as high as the back of the grate, and then bending it forward towards the mantle, as... fig 4. When it is as high as the workman can reach, let it be suddenly turned backward again, sloping a little upward... then fit a sheet of milled iron to the inside of the mantle, making it slant a little upward toward the back... a small distance above the new... masonry, and extending within a few inches of the back wall... By this construction all the air that enters into the chimney is made to pass immediately above the fire, between it and the heated iron... as the back of the fire-place is bent a little forward above the grate... the heat is likewise reflected into the room with the greater force... [I]f the smoke is accidentally beat down the chimney by a sudden gust of wind, it will be catched by the sheet of Iron, and prevented from coming into the room.

Observations on the Cause and Cure of Smoky Chimneys (1787)[edit]

By His Excellency Benjamin Franklin, LLD. F.R.S. President of the State of Pennsylvania, and of The American Philosophical Society, &c. In a Letter At Sea (Aug. 28, 1786) to Dr. Ingen-Housz, Physician to the Emperor, at Vienna. A source.
Benjamin Franklin, Observations on the Cause and Cure of Smoky Chimneys (1787) Figures & frontispiece
  • [Y]ou desire me to give you... my thoughts upon the Construction and Use of Chimneys... I embrace willingly this leisure... to comply... as it will not only fhew my regard to... a friend, but may... be of some utility to others; the doctrine of chimneys appearing not to be as yet generally well understood, and mistakes respecting them being attended with constant inconvenience, if not remedied; and with fruitless expence, if the true remedies are mistaken.
  • Having lit a pipe of tobacco, plunge the stem to the bottom of a decanter half filled with cold water; then putting a rag over the bowl, blow through it, and make the smoke descend in the stem of the pipe, from the end of which it will rise in bubbles through the water; and being thus cooled will not afterwards rise to go out through the neck of the decanter, but remain spreading itself, and resting on the surface of the water. This shews that smoke is really heavier than air; and that it is carried upwards only when attached to, or acted upon, by air that is heated, and thereby rarefied and rendered specifically lighter than the air in its neighbourhood.
  • Smoke being rarely seen but in company with heated air, and its upward motion being visible, though that of the rarefied air that drives it is not so, has naturally given rise to... error.
  • [A]ir is a fluid which has weight as well as others, though about eight hundred times lighter than water; that heat makes the particles of air recede from each other and take up more space, so that the same weight of air heated will have more bulk [volume] than equal weights of cold air which may surround it, and in that case must rise, being forced upwards by such colder and heavier air, which presses to get under it, and take its place.
  • That air is so rarefied or expanded by heat, may be proved to... by a lank blown bladder, which laid before a fire will soon swell, grow tight, and burst.
  • Another experiment may be, to take a glass tube... open at both ends, and fixed upright on legs, so that it need not be handled, for the hands might warm it: at the end of a quill, fasten five or six inches of the finest light filament of silk, so that it may be held either above the upper end of the tube or under the lower end, your warm hand being at a distance by the length of the quill. If there were any motion of air through the tube, it would manifest itself by its effect on the silk [Fig. I]; but if the tube and the air in it are of the same temperature with the surrounding air, there will be no such motion. ...Warm the tube, and you will find as long as it continues warm, a constant current of air entering below and passing up through it, till discharged at the top; because the warmth of the tube... rarefies that air, and makes it lighter than the air without, which therefore presses in below, forces it upwards, follows and takes its place, and is rarefied in its turn.
  • [N]o form of the funnel of the chimney has any share in its operation or effect respecting smoke, except its height. The longer the funnel if erect, the greater its force when filled with heated and rarefied air, to draw in below and drive up the smoke (if one may in compliance with custom use the expression draw), when in fact it is the superior weight of the surrounding atmosphere that presses to enter the funnel below, and so drives up... the smoke and warm air...
  • I have been... particular in explaining these first principles, because for want of clear ideas respecting them, much fruitless expence has been occasioned... whole stacks having been pulled down and rebuilt with funnels of different forms, imagined more powerful in drawing smoke, but having still the same height and the same opening below, have performed no better than their predecessors.
  • What is it then which makes a smoky chimney..? The causes of this effect which have fallen under my observation, amount to nine...
  • Smoky chimneys in a new house are [as] such frequently from mere want of air. The workmanship of the rooms being all good... true and tight... The doors and the sashes too, being worked with truth, shut with exactness so that the room is as tight as a snuff-box.
  • Now, if smoke cannot rise... unless other air be admitted to supply its place; and if therefore no current of air enter the opening of the chimney, there is nothing to prevent the smoke coming out into the room.
  • If... a column of air, equal to the content of the funnel, must be discharged, and an equal quantity supplied from the room below; it will appear absolutely impossible that this operation should go on if the tight room is kept shut: for were there any force capable of drawing constantly so much air out of it, it must soon be exhausted, like the receiver of an air-pump, and no animal could live in it.
  • Those therefore who stop every crevice in a room to prevent the admission of fresh air, and yet would have their chimney carry up the smoke, require inconsistencies, and expect impossibilities.
  • I have seen the owner of a new house in despair, and ready to sell it for much less than it cost, conceiving it uninhabitable, because not a chimney in any one of its rooms would carry off the smoke, unless a door or window were left open.
  • Much expence has... been made to alter and amend new chimneys which had really no fault: in one house... of a nobleman in Westminster, that expence amounted to... three hundred pounds... and after all, several... alterations were ineffectual, for want of understanding the true principles.
  • When you find... that opening the door or a window enables the chimney to carry up all the smoke, you may be sure that want of air from without was the cause of its smoking: I say from without, to guard you against a common mistake of those who may tell you, the room is large, [and] contains abundance of air sufficient to supply any chimney... These reasoners are ignorant, that the largeness of a room, if tight, is... of small importance, since it cannot part with a chimneyful of its air, without occasioning so much vacuum...
  • It appearing plainly... that some of the outward air must be admitted, the question will be, How much is absolutely necessary? ...To discover this quantity, shut the door gradually, while a middling fire is burning, till... the smoke begins to come out into the room; then open it a little, till you perceive the smoke comes out no longer: there hold the door, and observe the width of the open crevice... thence... your room requires an entrance for air equal in area.. I have found ...thirty-six square inches, to... serve for most chimneys.
  • High funnels, with small and low openings, may indeed be supplied through a less space [in area]; because... the force of levity being greater in such funnels, the cool air enters the room with greater velocity, and consequently more enters in the same time. This, however, has its limits...
  • It remains then to be considered, how and where this necessary quantity of air from without is to be admitted, so as to be least inconvenient. For, if... the air proceeds directly to the chimney, and... comes cold to your back and heels, as you sit before your fire you feel the... inconvenience.
  • Various have been the contrivances to avoid this: such as bringing in fresh air through pipes, in the jams of the chimney, which, pointing upwards, should blow the smoke up the funnel; opening passages into the funnel above, to let in air for the same purpose. But these produce an effect contrary to that intended; for, as it is the constant current of air passing from the room through the opening of the chimney into the funnel, which prevents the smoke coming out into the room, if you supply the funnel by other means, or in other ways, with the air it wants, and especially if that air be cold, you diminish the force of that current, and the smoke, in its efforts to enter the room, finds less resistance.
  • The wanted air must... indispensibly be admitted into the room to supply what goes off through the opening of the chimney. M. Gauger... proposes, with judgment, to admit it above the opening of the chimney; and to prevent inconvenience from its coldness, he directs its being made to pass in its entrance through winding cavities made behind the iron back and sides of the fire-place; and under the iron hearth-plate; in which cavities it will be warmed, and even heated, so as to contribute much, instead of cooling, to the warming of the room. This invention is excellent in itself, and may be used with advantage in building new houses; because the chimneys may then be so disposed as to admit conveniently the cold air to enter such passages: but, in houses built without such views, the chimneys are often so situated as not to afford that convenience, without great and expensive alterations. Easy and cheap methods, though not quite so perfect in themselves, are of more general utility; and such are the following:
  • Few can imagine the difference of climate between the upper and lower parts of such a room, who have not tried it by the thermometer, or by going up a ladder till their heads are near the ceiling. It is then among this warm air that the wanted quantity of outward air is best admitted.
  • This may be easily done by drawing down about an inch the upper sash of a window; or, if not moveable, by cutting such a crevice through its frame... it will be well to place a thin shelf... to conceal the opening; and sloping upwards, to direct the entering air... In some houses, the air may be admitted by such a crevice... near the ceiling and over the opening of the chimney. ...[T]he entering cold air will there meet with the warmest rising air from before the fire, and be soonest tempered by the mixture. The same kind of shelf should also be placed here.
  • Another way... is to take out an upper pane of glass in one of your sashes: set it in a tin frame, giving it two springing angular sides, and then replacing it with hinges below [Fig. 2], on which it may be turned to open more or less above. ...By drawing this pane in more or less, you may admit... air... Its position will naturally throw that air up and along the ceiling.
  • A second cause of the smoking of chimneys is, their openings in the room being too large... Architects... have no other ideas of proportion in the opening of a chimney, than what relate to symmetry and beauty... while its true proportion, respecting its function and utility, depends on quite other principles... The proportion then to be regarded, is what relates to the height of the funnel. For... funnels in the different stories of a house are necessarily of different heights or lengths... [T]he openings of the longest funnels may be larger, and that those of the shorter funnels should be smaller. For if there be a large opening to a chimney that does not draw strongly, the funnel may... be furnished with the air it demands by a partial current... on one side of the opening... the other side free of any opposing current, may permit the smoke to issue there into the room.
  • Much... of the force of draft in a funnel depends on the degree of rarefaction in the air it contains; and that depends on the nearness to the fire... in entering the funnel. If it can enter far from the fire on each side, or far above the fire in a [too] wide or high opening, it receives little heat in passing by the fire, and the contents of the funnel is by that means less different in levity from the surrounding atmosphere, and its force in drawing consequently weaker.
  • Hence if too large an opening be given to chimneys in upper rooms, those rooms will be smoky.
  • On the other hand, if too small openings be given to chimneys in the lower rooms, the entering air operating too directly and violently on the fire; and afterwards strengthening the draft as it ascends the funnel, will consume the fuel too rapidly.
  • If you suspect that your chimney smokes from the too great dimension of its opening, contract it by placing moveable boards so as to lower and narrow it gradually, till you find the smoke no longer issues into the room. The proportion so found will be that which is proper... and you may employ the bricklayer or mason to reduce it accordingly.
  • [I]n building new houses... I would have the openings in my lower rooms about thirty inches square and eighteen deep, and those in the upper only eighteen inches square and not quite so deep; the intermediate ones diminishing in proportion as the height of funnel diminished. ...The same depth is nearly necessary to all, the funnels being all made of a size proper to admit a chimney-sweeper.
  • If in large and elegant rooms custom or fancy should require the appearance of a larger chimney, it may be formed of expensive marginal decorations, in marble, &c. In time, perhaps, that which is fittest in the nature of things may come to be thought handsomest.
  • But at present, when men and women in different countries shew themselves dissatisfied with the forms God has given to their heads, waists, and feet, and pretend to shape them, more perfectly, it is hardly to be expected that they will be content always with the best form of a chimney. And there are some, I know, so bigotted to the fancy of a large noble opening, that, rather than change it, they would submit to have damaged furniture, fore eyes, and skins almost smoked to bacon.

Of Chimney Fire-places (1796)[edit]

Essay IV by Benjamin Count of Rumford, Essays, Political, Economical and Philosophical (1796) pp. 305 ff.
  • The plague of a smoking Chimney is proverbial; but there are many other very great defects in open Fire-places, as... commonly constructed... which, being less obvious, are seldom attended to; and there are some of them... fatal in their confequences... and... cost the lives of thousands every year... By a cause which might be so easily removed!—by a cause whose removal would tend to promote comfort and convenience in so many ways.
  • There are various causes by which Chimnies may be prevented from carrying smoke; but there are none that may not easily be discovered and completely removed.
  • Those who will take the trouble to consider the nature and properties of elastic fluids,—of air,—smoke,—and vapour,—and to examine the laws of their motions, and the necessary consequences of their being rarified by heat, would perceive that it would be as much a miracle if smoke should not rise in a Chimney, (all hindrances to its ascent being removed,) as that water should refuse to run in a syphon, or to descend in a river.
  • The whole mystery, therefore, of curing smoking Chimnies is comprised in this simple direction,—find out and remove those local hindrances which forcibly prevent the smoke from following its natural tendency to go up the Chimney; or rather, to speak more accurately, which prevents its being forced up the Chimney by the pressure of the heavier air of the room.
  • [T]hat cause which will... almost universally be found to operate, is one which it is always very easy to discover, and as easy to remove,—the bad construction of the Chimney in the neighbourhood of the Fire-place.
  • I have never been obliged, except in one... instance, to have recourse to any other method of cure than merely reducing the Fire-place and the throat of the Chimney, or that part of it which lies immediately above the Fire-place, to a proper form, and just dimensions.
  • [O]f above an hundred and fifty Fire-places which have been altered in this city, under my direction, within these last two months, there is not one which has not answered perfectly well. ...the saving of fuel, arising from these improvements of Fire-places, amounts in all cases to more than half, and in many cases to more than two thirds of the quantity formerly consumed.
  • Now as the alterations in Fire-places which are necessary may be made at a very trifling expence... as no iron work, but merely a few bricks and some mortar, or a few small pieces of fire-stone, are required; the improvement in question is very important, when considered merely with a view to economy; but it should be remembered, that not only a great saving is made of fuel by the alterations proposed, but that rooms are made much more comfortable, and more salubrious;—that they may be more equally warmed, and more easily kept at any required temperature;—that all draughts of cold air from the doors and windows towards the Fire-place, which are so fatal to delicate constitutions, will be completely prevented;—that in consequence of the air being equally warm all over the room, or in all parts of it, it may be entirely changed with the greatest facility, and the room completely ventilated, when this air is become unfit for respiration, and this merely by throwing open for a moment a door opening into some passage from whence fresh air may be had, and the upper part of a window; or by opening the upper part of one window and the lower part of another.
  • And as the operation of ventilating the room, even when it is done in the most complete manner, will never require the door and window to be open more than one minute; in this short time the walls of the room will not be sensibly cooled, and the fresh air which comes into the room will, in a very few minutes, be so completely warmed by these walls that the temperature of the room, though the air in it be perfectly changed, will be brought to be very nearly the same as it was before the ventilation.
  • As long as any fire is kept up in the room, there is so considerable a current of air up the Chimney, notwithstanding all the reduction that can be made in the size of its throat, that the continual change of air in the room which this current occasions will, generally, be found to be quite sufficient for keeping the air in the room sweet and wholesome...
  • Those who have any doubts respecting the very great change of air or ventilation which takes place each time the door of a warm room is opened in cold weather, need only set the door... wide open for a moment, and hold two lighted candles in the door-way, one near the top of the door, and the other near the bottom... The violence with which the flame of that above will be driven outwards, and that below inwards by the two strong currents of air which, passing in opposite directions, rush in and out of the room at the same time, will [convince them] that the change of air which actually takes place must be very considerable... and these currents will be stronger, and consequently the change of air greater, in proportion as the difference is greater between the temperatures of the air within the room and of that without.
  • The great fault of all the open Fire-places, or Chimnies, for burning... an open fire, now in common use, is, that they are much too large; or rather it is the throat of the Chimney or the lower part of its open canal, in the neighbourhood of the mantle, and immediately over the fire, which is too large. This opening has hitherto been left larger than otherwise it probably would have been made, in order to give a passage to the Chimney-sweeper; but I shall show... how a passage for the Chimney-sweeper may be contrived without leaving the throat of the Chimney of such enormous dimensions as to swallow up and devour all the warm air of the room, instead of merely giving a passage to the smoke and heated vapour which rise from the fire, for which last purpose alone it ought to be destined.
  • I shall endeavour to write in such a manner as to be easily understood by those who are most likely to profit by the information I have to communicate, and consequently most likely to assist in bringing into general use the improvements I recommend.
  • As the immoderate size of the throats of Chimnies is the great fault of their construction, it is this fault which ought always to be first attended to in every attempt which is made to improve them; for... if the opening left for the passage of the smoke is larger than is necessary for that purpose, nothing can prevent the warm air of the room from escaping through it; and whenever this happens, there is not only an unnecessary loss of heat, but the warm air which leaves the room to go up the Chimney being replaced by cold air from without, the draughts of cold air... cannot fail to be produced in the room...
  • [A]s the smoke and hot vapour which rise from a fire naturally tend upwards, the proper place for the throat of the Chimney is... perpendicularly over the fire.
  • But far above the burning fuel... ought [the throat] to be placed.
  • As the smoke and vapour which ascend from burning fuel rise in consequence of their being rarified by heat, and made lighter than the air of the surrounding atmosphere; and as the degree of their rarefaction, and consequently their tendency to rise, is in proportion to the intensity of their heat; and... as they are hotter near the fire than at a greater distance from it, it is clear that the nearer the throat of a Chimney is to the fire, the stronger will be... its draught, and the less danger there will be of its smoking.
  • But on the other hand, when... this strong draught is occasioned by the throat of the Chimney being very near the fire... the draught... may become so strong, as to cause the fuel to be consumed too rapidly. There are likewise several other inconveniences which would attend the placing of the throat of a Chimney very near the burning fuel.
  • [T]he height of the throat... will be determined by the height of the mantle. It can hardly be made lower than the mantle; and it ought always to be brought down as nearly upon the level with the bottom of it as possible.
  • If the Chimney is apt to smoke, it will sometimes be necessary either to lower the mantle or to diminish the height of the opening of the Fire-place, by throwing over a flat arch, or putting in a straight piece of stone from one side of it to the other, or... building a wall of bricks, supported by a flat bar of iron, immediately under the mantle.
  • Nothing is so effectual to prevent Chimnies from smoking as diminishing the opening of the Fire-place in the manner here described, and lowering and diminishing the throat of the Chimnney; and... a perfect cure may be effected by these means alone, even in the most desperate cases.
  • [W]hen the construction of the Chimney is very bad... or... very unfavourable to the ascent of the smoke, and especially when both these disadvantages exist... it may... be necessary to diminish the opening of the Fire-place, and particularly to lower It, and also to lower the throat... more than might be wished: but... this can produce no inconveniences to be compared with that greatest of all plagues, a smoking Chimney.
  • The position of the throat... being determined, the next points... are its size and form, and the manner in which it ought to be connected with the Fire-place below, and with the open canal of the Chimney above.
  • Now the design of a Chimney Fire being... to warm a room... with the smallest expence of fuel... and... that... the air of the room be preserved... pure... fit for respiration, and free from smoke and... disagreeable smells.
  • [H]eat which is generated in the combustion of the fuel exists under two... distinct... forms. One... is combined with the smoke, vapour, and heated air which rise from the burning fuel, and goes off with them into the... atmosphere; ...the other part, which appears to be uncombined, or... supposed, combined only with light, is sent off from the fire in rays in all possible directions.
  • [I]t is... probable that the combined heat can only be communicated to other bodies by actual contact with the body with which it is combined; and... the rays... communicate or generate heat only when and where they are stopped or absorbed. ...[T]hey seem to bear a great resemblance to the solar rays. ...I must not enter too deeply into... the nature and properties of... radiant heat.
  • What proportion does the radiant heat bear to the combined heat? ...[T]he quantity of heat which goes off combined with the smoke, vapour, and heated air is much more considerable, perhaps three or four times greater... And yet, small as the quantity is of... radiant heat, it is the only part... ever employed... in heating a room.
    The whole of the combined heat escapes by the Chimney, and is totally lost; and... no part of it could ever be brought into a room from an open Fire-place, without bringing along... the smoke...
  • There is, however, one method by which combined heat... may be made to assist in warming a room... by making it pass through something analogous to a German stove, placed in the Chimney above the fire.
  • [A]s it is the radiant heat alone which can be employed in heating a room, it becomes an object of much importance to determine how the greatest quantity of it may be generated... and how the greatest proportion possible of that generated may be brought into the room.
  • When the fire burns bright, much radiant heat will be sent off from it; but when it is smothered up, very little will be generated... and the combustion being very incomplete, a great part of the inflammable matter of the fuel being merely rarefied and driven up the Chimney without being inflamed, the fuel will be wasted... And hence it appears of how much importance it is, whether.. with a view to economy... cleanliness, comfort, and elegance, to pay due attention to the management of a Chimney Fire.
  • Chimnies so often smoke when too large a quantity of fresh coals is put upon the fire. So many coals should never be put on the fire at once as to prevent the free passage of the flame between them. In short, a fire should never be smothered; and when proper attention is paid to the quantity of coals put on, there will be very little use for the poker; and this circumstance will contribute very much to cleanliness, and to the preservation of furniture.
  • Now as the rays which are thrown off from burning fuel have this property in common with light, that they generate heat only when and where they are stopped or absorbed, and also in being capable of being reflected without generating heat at the surfaces of various bodies, the knowledge of these properties will enable us to take measures, with the utmost certainty, for producing the effect required... bringing as much radiant heat as possible into the room.
    This must be done, first, by causing as many as possible of the rays, as they are sent off from the fire in straight lines, to come directly into the room; which can only be effected by bringing the fire as far forward as possible, and leaving the opening of the Fire-place as wide and as high as can be done without inconvenience; and secondly, by making the sides and back of the fire-place of such form, and constructing them of such materials, as to cause the direct rays from the fire, which strike against them, to be sent into the room by reflection in the greatest abundance.
  • [T]he best form for the vertical sides of a Fire-place, or the covings... is that of an upright plane, making an angle with the plane of the back of the Fire-place, of about 135 degrees.—According to the present construction of Chimnies this angle is 90 degrees... a right angle; but as... the two sides or covings of the Fire-place are parallel to each other, it is evident that they are very ill contrived for throwing into the room by reflection the rays...
  • As the object... is to bring radiant heat into the room... that material is best for the construction of a Fire-place which reflects the most, or which absorbs the least of it; for that heat which is absorbed cannot be reflected. ...[W]e have only to find out ...what bodies acquire least heat when exposed to the direct rays of a clear fire ...And hence it appears that iron, and ...metals off all kinds, which ...grow very hot when exposed to the rays ...are to be reckoned among the very worst materials employ in the construction of Fire-places.
  • The best materials... are fire-stone, and common bricks and mortar. Both... are, fortunately, very cheap...
  • When bricks are used they should be covered with a thin coating of plaster, which, when it is become perfectly dry, should be white-washed. The fire-stone should likewise be white-washed... and every part of the fire-place, which is not exposed to being foiled and made black by the smoke, should be kept as white and clean as possible. As white reflects more heat, as well as more light than any other colour, it ought always to be preferred for the inside of a Chimney Fire-place; and black, which reflects neither light nor heat, should be most avoided.
  • [T]he quantity of radiant heat thrown into the room is diminished;—and it is easy to show that almost the whole of that absorbed by the metal is ultimately carried up the Chimney by the air, which, coming into contact with this hot metal, is heated and rarefied by it, and... goes off with the smoke; and as no current of air ever sets from any part of the opening of a Fire-place into the room, it is impossible to conceive how the heat existing in the metal composing any part of the apparatus of the Fire-place, and situated within its cavity, can come, or be brought into the room.
  • This difficulty may be in part removed, by supposing... that the heated metal sends off in rays... even when it is not heated red hot; but still, as it never can be admitted that the heat, absorbed by the metal and afterwards thrown off by it in rays, is increased by this operation, nothing can be gained by it; and as much must necessarily be lost... to the air in contact with it, which... always makes its way up the Chimney, and flies off into the atmosphere, the loss of heat attending the use of it is too evident...
  • There is, however, in Chimney Fire-places... one essential part, the grate, which cannot well be made of any thing else but iron...
  • If it should be necessary to diminish the opening of a large Chimney in order to prevent its smoking, it is much more simple, œconomical, and better in all respects, to do this with marble, fire-stone, or even with bricks and mortar, than to make use of iron, which... is the very worst material... for that purpose; and as to registers, they not only are... unnecessary, where the throat of a Chimney is properly constructed, and of proper dimensions, but in that case would do mach harm. If they act It all, it must be by opposing their flat surfaces to the current of rising smoke in a manner which cannot fail to embarrass and impede its motion. But... the passage of the smoke through the throat of a Chimney ought to be facilitated as much as possible in order that it may be enabled to pass by a small aperture.
  • Register-stoves have often been found to be of use, but because the great fault of all Fire-places constructed upon the common principles being the enormous dimensions of the throat of the Chimney, this fault has been in some measure corrected by them; but I will venture to affirm, that there never was a Fire-place so corrected that would not have been much more improved, and with infinitely less expence by the alterations here recommended...
  • All Chimney Fire-places, without exception... and even those which do not smoke, as well as those which do, may be greatly improved by making the alterations... here recommended; for it is by no means merely to prevent Chimnies from smoking that these improvements are recommended, but it is also to make them better in all respects... and when the alterations proposed are properly executed, which may very easily be done with the assistance of the following plain and simple directions, the Chimnies will never fail to answer... even beyond expectation. The room will be heated much more equally and more pleasantly with less than half the fuel used before, the fire will be more cheerful and more agreeable; and the general appearance of the Fire-place more neat and elegant, and the Chimney will never smoke.
  • I know of no disadvantage... that attends the Fire-places constructed upon the principles here recommended.
  • By the throat of a Chimney, I mean the lower extremity of its canal, where it unites with the upper part of its open Fire-place.—This throat is commonly found about a foot above the level of the lower part of the mantle, and it is sometimes contracted to a smaller size than the rest of the canal of the Chimney, and sometimes not.
  • The breast of a Chimney is that part of it which is immediately behind the mantle.—It is the wall which forms the entrance from below into the throat of the Chimney in front, or towards the room. — It is opposite to the upper extremity of the back of the open Fire-place, and parallel to it;—in short it may be said to be the back part of the mantle itself.
  • The width of the throat of Chimney... is taken from the breast of the Chimney to the back, and its length is taken at right angles to its width, or in a line parallel to the mantle...
  • The bringing forward of the fire into the room, or rather bringing it nearer to the front of the opening of the Fire-place;—and the diminishing of the throat of the Chimney, being two objects principally had in view in the alterations... here recommended... both... may be attained merely by bringing forward the back of the chimney.
  • The only question... is, how far [the fire] should be brought forward?—The answer... bring it forward as far as possible, without diminishing too much the passage which must be left for the smoke.
  • Now as this passage, which, in its narrowest part, I have called the throat of the Chimney, ought... to be immediately, or perpendicularly over the Fire, it is evident that the back of the Chimney must always be built perfectly upright.—To determine therefore the place for the new back, or how far precisely it ought to be brought forward, nothing more is necessary that to ascertain how wide the throat of the Chimney to be left, or what trace must be left between the top of the breast of the Chimney, where the upright canal of the Chimney begins, and the new back of the Fire-place carried up perpendicularly to that height.
  • In the course of my numerous experiments upon Chimnies I have taken much pains to determine the width proper to be given to this passage, and I have found that, when the back of the Fire-place is of the proper width, the best width for the throat of the Chimney, when the Chimney and the Fire-place are of the usual form and size, is four inches. Three inches might sometime answer, especially where the Fire-place is very small, and the Chimney good, and well situated; but as it is... of much importance to prevent those accidents... putting too many coals at once upon the fire... when the throats of Chimnies were... very narrow...
  • It may... appear extraordinary... that Fire-places of such different sizes should all require the throat of the Chimney to be of the same width; but... the capacity of the throat of a Chimney does not depend on its width alone, but on its width and length taken together; and that in large Fire-places, the width of the back, and consequently the length of the throat of the Chimney, is greater than in those which are smaller...
  • In Fire-places as they are now commonly constructed, the back is of equal width with the opening of the Fire-place in front;-—but this... is faulty on two accounts.— First... the sides... or covings... are parallel to each other, and consequently ill-contrived to throw out into the room the heat they receive from the fire in the form of rays;—and secondly, the large open corners which are formed by making the back as wide as the opening of the Fire-place in front occasion eddies of wind, which frequently disturb the fire, and embarrass the smoke in its ascent in such a manner as often to bring it into the room.
  • Both these defects may be entirely remedied by diminishing the width of the back of the Fire-place.—The width which, in most cases, it will be best to give it, is one third of the width of the opening of the Fire-place in front.
  • It will frequently happen that the back of a Chimney must be made wider than... the rule here given... This may be, either to accommodate the Fire-place to a stove... already on hand... or for other reasons... with no considerable inconvenience.—It will always be best however to conform to it as far as circumstances will allow.
  • Where a Chimney is designed for warming a room of a middling size, and where the thickness of the wall of the Chimney in front, measured from the front of the mantle to the breast of the Chimney, is nine inches, I should set off four inches more for the width of the throat of the Chimney, which supposing the back of the Chimney to be built upright, as it always ought to be, will give thirteen inches for the depth of the Flre-place measured upon the hearth, from the opening of the Fire-place in front, to the back.—In this case thirteen inches would be a good size for the width of the back; and three times thirteen inches, or thirty-nine inches, for the width of the opening of the Fire-place in front; and the angle made by the back of the Fire-place and the sides of it, or covings, would be just 135 degrees, which is the best position they can have for throwing heat into the room.
  • I will suppose that in altering such a Chimney it is found necessary, in order to accommodate the Fire-place to a grate or stove already on hand, to make the Fire-place sixteen inches wide.—In that case, I should merely increase the width, of the back, to the dimensions required, without; altering the depth of the Chimney, or increasing the width of the opening of the Chimney in front.—The covings... would be somewhat reduced in their width... and their position... would be a little changed; but these alterations would produce no bad effects of any considerable consequence, and would be much less likely to injure the Fire-place...
  • Should the opening of the Chimney be too narrow, which however will very seldom be found to be the case, it will, in general, be advisable to let it remain as it is, and to accommodate the covings to it, rather than to attempt to increase its width, which would be attended with a good deal of trouble, and probably a considerable expence.
  • [T]he points of the greatest importance... in altering Fire-places upon the principles here recommended, are, the bringing forward the back to its proper place, and making it of a proper width.
  • [T]he new back... necessary to build in order to bring the fire sufficiently forward... need never be thicker than the width of a common brick.—I may say the same of the thickness necessary to be given to the new sides, or covings... or if the new back and covings are constructed of stone, one inch and three quarters, or two inches in thickness will be sufficient.
  • Whether the new back and covings are constructed of stone, or... bricks, the space between them, and the old back and covings of the Chimney ought to be filled up... with loose rubbish, or pieces of broken bricks, or stones, provided the work be strengthened by a few layers or courses of bricks laid in mortar; but it will be indispensably necessary to finish the work where these new walls end... at the top of the throat of the Chimney, where it ends abruptly in the open canal of the Chimney by a horizontal course of bricks well secured with mortar.
  • [W]here the throat of the Chimney has an end... where it enters into the lower part of the open canal of the Chimney, there the three walls which form the two covings and the back of the Fire-place all end abruptly. ...[T]hey should end in this manner for were they to be sloped outward and raised in such a manner as to swell out the upper extremity of the throat of the Chimney in the form of a trumpet, and increase it by degrees to the size of the canal of the Chimney, this manner of uniting the lower extremity of the canal of the Chimney with the throat would tend to assist the winds which may attempt to blow down the Chimney, in forcing their way through the throat, and throwing the smoke backward into the room; but when the throat of the Chimney ends abruptly, and the ends of the new walls form a flat horizontal surface, it will be much more difficult for any wind from above, to find, and force its way, through the narrow passage of the throat...
  • As the two walls which form the new covings... are not parallel... but inclined, presenting an oblique surface towards the front of the Chimney, and as they are built perfectly upright, and quite flat, from the hearth to the top of the throat, where they end... an horizontal section of the throat will not be an oblong square; but its deviation from that form is a matter of no consequence; and no attempts should ever be made, by twisting the covings above, where they approach the breast of the Chimney, to bring it to that form.
  • All twists, bends, prominences, excavations, and other irregularities of form, in the covings... never fail to produce eddies in the current of air which is continually passing into, and through an open Fire-place in which a fire is burning;—and all such eddies disturb, either the fire, or the ascending current of smoke, or both; and not unfrequently cause the smoke to be thrown back into the room.—Hence... the covings... should never be made circular, or in the form of any other curve; but always quite flat.
  • For the same reason, that is... to prevent eddies, the breast of the Chimney, which forms [the front] side of the throat... or nearest to the room, should be neatly cleaned off, and its surface made quite regular and smooth.
    This may easily be done by covering it with a coat of plaister, which may be made thicker or thinner in different parts as may be necessary in order to bring the breast of the Chimney to be of the proper form.
  • [T]he form of the breast of the Chimney is... of... great importance... The worst form it can have is that of a vertical plane, or upright flat;—and next... worst... is an inclined plane.—Both... cause the current of warm air from the room, which will... sometimes find its way into the Chimney, to cross upon the current of smoke, which rises from the fire, in a manner, most likely to embarrass it in its ascent, and drive it back.— The inclined plane which is formed by a flat register placed in the throat of a Chimney produces the same effects; and this is one reason, among many... which have induced me to disapprove of register stoves.
  • The current of air, which, passing under the mantle, gets into the Chimney, should be made gradually to bend its course upwards, by which means it will unite quietly with the ascending current of smoke, and will be less likely to check it, or force it back into the room.—Now this may be effected with the greatest ease and certainty, merely by rounding off the breast of the Chimney or back part of the mantle, instead of leaving it flat, or full of holes and corners; and this... ought always to be done.
  • [T]he height to which the new back and covings ought to be carried... will depend not only on the height of the mantle, but also, and more especially, on the height of the breast of the Chimney, or of that part of the Chimney where the breast ends and the upright canal begins.—The back and covings must rise a few inches, five or six... higher than this part, otherwise the throat of the Chimney will not be properly formed;—but I know of no advantages that would be gained by carrying them up still higher.
  • Those [grates] whose construction is the most simple, and... the cheapest, are beyond comparison the best, on all accounts.— Nothing being wanted in these Chimnies but merely a grate for containing the coal, and in which they will burn with a clear fire;—and all additional apparatus being, not only useless, but very pernicious, all complicated and expensive grates should be laid aside, and such as are more simple substituted in the room of them.
  • And in the choice of a grate, as in every thing else, beauty and elegance may easily be united with the most perfect simplicity.—Indeed they are incompatible with every thing else.
  • In modern built houses where the doors and windows are... made to close with such accuracy that no crevice is left for the passage of the air from without... When there is a fire burning... as the air necessary to supply the current up the Chimney where the fire burns cannot be had in sufficient quantities... through the very small crevices of the doors and windows, the air in the room becomes rarefied, not by heat, but by subtraction of that portion of air which is employed in keeping up the fire, or supporting the combustion of the fuel, and in consequence of this rarefaction, its elasticity is diminished, and being at last overcome by the pressure of the external air of the atmosphere, this external air rushes into the room by the only passage left for it... by the open Chimney.
  • The most obvious remedy... is to provide for the supply of fresh air necessary for keeping up the fires by opening a passage for the external air into the room by a shorter road than down one of the Chimnies...
  • But Chimnies so circumstanced may very frequently be prevented from smoking even without opening any new passage for the external air, merely by diminishing the draught... up the Chimnies... by altering both Fire-places upon the principles recommended... in the foregoing...
  • Where the top of a Chimney is commanded by high buildings, by clifts, or by high grounds, it will frequently happen, in windy weather, that the eddies formed in the atmosphere by these obstacles will blow down the Chimney, and beat down the Smoke into the room.—This it is true will be much less likely to happen when the throat of the Chimney is contracted and properly formed than when it is left quite open, and the Fire-place badly constructed; but... One of the most simple contrivances that can be made use of, and which in most cases will be found to answer the purpose intended as well or better than more complicated machinery, is to cover the top of the Chimney with a hollow truncated pyramid or cone, the diameter of which above, or opening for the passage of the Smoke, is about 10 or 11 inches. ...[I]ts perpendicular height may be equal to the diameter of its opening above, and the diameter of its opening below equal to three times its height.-—It should be placed upon the top of the Chimney, and it may be contrived so as to make a handsome finish to the brickwork.
  • The intention of this contrivance is that the winds and eddies which strike against the oblique surface of these covers may be reflected upwards instead of blowing down the Chimney.—The invention is by no means new, but it has not hitherto been often put in practice.—As often as I have seen it tried it has been found to be of use; I cannot say,. however, that I was ever obliged to have recourse to it, or to any similar contrivance; and if I forbear to enlarge upon the subject of these inventions, it is because I am persuaded that when Chimnies are properly constructed in the neighbourhood of the Fire-place little more will be necessary to be done at the top of the Chimney than to leave it open.
  • In lighting a coal fire more wood should be employed than is commonly used, and fewer coals; and as soon as the fire burns bright, and the coals are well lighted, and not before, more coals should be added to increase the fire to its proper size.
  • The enormous waste of fuel in London may be estimated by the vast dark cloud which continually hangs over this great metropolis, and frequently overshadows the whole country, far and wide; for this dense cloud is certainly composed almost entirely of unconsumed coal, which having stolen wings from the innumerable fires of this great city has escaped by the Chimnies, and continues to sail about in the air, till having lost the heat which gave it volatility, it falls in a dry shower of extremely fine black dust to the ground, obscuring the atmosphere in its descent, and frequently changing the brightest day into more than Egyptian darkness.
  • I never view from a distance, as I come into town this black cloud which hangs over London without wishing to be able to compute the immense number of chaldrons of coals of which it is composed; for could this be ascertained, I am persuaded so striking a fact would awaken the curiosity, and excite the astonishment of all ranks of the inhabitants; and perhaps turn their minds to an object of economy to which they have hitherto paid little attention.
  • Though the saving of fuel which will result from the improvements to the forms of Chimney Fire-places here recommended will be very considerable, yet I hope to be able to show in a future Essay, that still greater savings may be made, and more important advantages derived from the introduction of improvements I shall propose in Kitchen Fire-places.
  • I hope likewise to be able to show in an Essay on Cottage Fire-places, which I am now preparing for publication, that three quarters, at least, of the fuel which cottagers now consume in cooking their victuals, and in warming their dwellings, may with great ease, and without any expensive apparatus, be saved.

Of Chimney Fire-places (1798)[edit]

Essay XI by Benjamin Count of Rumford, Essays, Political, Economical and Philosophical (1802) A new edition, pp. 387 ff.
  • I was much flattered on my return to England, in September 1798... to find that the improvements in the construction of chimney fire-places, which I had recommended in my Fourth Essay, published... 1796, were coming into use... It has been objected... that they sometimes occasion dust and ashes to come into the room when the fire is stirred. I have examined several fire-places... that have... that fault; but... found... their imperfections have arisen from faults in... construction. Either the grate has been brought out too far into the room, or the opening of the fire-place in front has been left too wide—or too high—or the workman has neglected to lower and to round off the breast of the chimney—or... several of these faults... together...
  • When the throat of a chimney is situated very high up above the mantle, and especially when the mantle and breast of the chimney, or the wall that reposes on the mantle, are very thin, workmen who are employed to alter chimnies, setting about the work with their minds strongly prepossessed with what they consider as the leading principle... that the throat of the chimney should not be more than four inches wide, they are very apt to bring the grate too far forward. In dropping their plumb-line from the breast of the chimney, they do not reach up high enough into the chimney, but take a part of the breast, where it still goes on to slope backwards, for the bottom of the perpendicular canal of the chimney. They also very often commit another fault, not less essential... in neglecting to bring down the throat of the chimney nearer to the fire, when... too high.
  • It is likewise very important to "round off the breast of the chimney;" though this... is very often intirely neglected... by workmen...
  • The breast of a chimney should always be rounded off... beginning from the very front of the lower part of the mantle, and ending at the narrowest part of the throat of the chimney, where the breast ends in the front part of the perpendicular canal of the chimney. If the under surface of the mantle is flat and wide, it will be impossible to round off the breast properly; and that circumstance alone renders it indispensably necessary, in those cases, to alter the mantle, or to run under it a thinner piece of stone, or a thin wall of bricks, supported on an iron bar, in order that the breast of the chimney may be brought to be of the proper form, and the throat of the chimney may be brought into its proper situation.
  • If the under side of the mantle be left broad and flat... the cloud of dust or light ashes, that rises from a coal fire nearly burnt out, when... violently stirred... with a poker, striking perpendicularly against this flat part... must... be beat back into the room; but when the breast of the chimney is properly rounded off, the ascending cloud of dust and smoke more easily finds its way into the throat of the chimney, and is even directed and assisted in some measure by the warm air of the room that gets under the mantle and is going the same way.
  • Another very common fault... in chimney fire-places, that have been altered on what have been called my principles, and which has a direct tendency to bring dust, and even smoke, into the room, is the sloping of the covings too much, and leaving the opening of the fire-place in front too wide. I have said, in my Essay on Chimney Fire-places, that where chimnies are well constructed, and well situated, and have never been apt to smoke, in altering them the covings may be placed at an angle of 135 degrees with the back; but... that they should never exceed that angle, and... bad consequences... must follow from making the opening of a fire-place very wide, when its depth is very shallow...
  • ...for chimnies that are apt to smoke, the covings should be placed less obliquely in respect to the back, than in others that have not that fault. But most... workmen... paid little attention to these distinctions and... frequently... and sometimes in fire-places that have been remarkably shallow... the covings have been placed at an angle even more oblique than that above-mentioned.
  • Another cause... in bringing dust and smoke into rooms... is the great nicety with which the doors and windows are fitted in their frames, which prevents a sufficient quantity of fresh air from coming into the room, to supply a brisk current up the chimney. ...[A]ll the alterations in fire-places on the common construction, that have been recommended in order to improve them, must tend directly and very powerfully to lessen this evil; but nothing will so completely remedy it as lowering the mantle, and diminishing the width of the fire-place.
  • How many fire-places in close rooms have been cured completely of throwing puffs of smoke and dust into the room, merely by placing a register-stove in them? But there is surely nothing peculiar to a register-stove that could enable it to perform such a cure, but merely as it serves to diminish the width and heighth of the opening of the fire-place; and how much easier could this be done with marble, or other stone, or with bricks and mortar... [T]he openings of chimney fire-places are in general certainly too wide and too high and... there is no way of reducing them to a proper size... so cheap, or more effectual...
  • [C]ovings of... fire-places must be placed obliquely, and they must not be constructed of metal; and if the sides and back of the grate be constructed of fire bricks instead of iron, the fire will burn still brighter, and will fend off considerably more radiant heat into the room.
  • If in constructing or altering chimney fire-places, the rules laid down in my Essay on that subject are stricty adhered to, chimnies so fitted up will very seldom be found either to smoke, or to throw out dust into the room; and should they be found to have either of these faults, there is a remedy for the evil, as effectual, as it is simple and obvious: Bring down the mantle, and the throat of the chimney lower; and if it should be found necessary, reduce the width of opening of the fire-place in fronts and diminish the obliquity of the covings.
  • I am not the inventor of any of those stoves or grates, that have been offered to the public for sale, under my name.
  • In building a house an air canal, about twelve or fifteen inches square, in the clear, and open at both ends, may be constructed, in, or near the center of each stack of chimneys; and two branches from this air canal, both furnished with registers, may open... one... into the fire-place, just under the grate, and the other over the fire-place, and near the top of the room, or just under the ceiling... The bottom of this air tube should reach to the ground, where it should communicate freely with the open air of the atmosphere...
  • Those who consider what an immense quantity of air is required to supply the current that sets up the chimney of an open fire place, where there is a fire burning, must perceive what an enormous loss of heat there must be, when all this expence of air is supplied by the warmed air of the room, and that all this warmed air is necessarily and constantly replaced by the cold air from without, which finds its way into the room, by the crevices of the doors and windows. But all this waste of heat, or any part... may be prevented by the scheme proposed, for if the air necessary to the combustion of the fuel, and to the supplying of the current up the chimney, be furnished by the air-tube, the warmed air in the room will remain in its places and as this will in a great measure prevent the cold currents from the crevices of the door and windows, the heat in the room will be the more equable, and consequently the more wholesome and agreeable on that account.
  • [B]y a proper use of the two registers, together with a judicious management of the fire, the air in the room may either be made hotter, or colder;—or may be kept at any given temperature—or the room may be most effectually ventilated; and that this change of air may be effected, either gradually or more suddenly.
  • [W]e must never forget that it is the room that heats the air, and not the air that heats the room.
  • The rays that are sent off from the burning fuel, generate heat, only when and where they are stopped, or absorbed, consequently they generate no heat in the air in the room, in passing through it, because they pass through it, and are not stopped by it, but, striking against the walls of the room, or against any solid body in the room, these rays are there stopped and absorbed, and it is there that the heat found in the room is generated. The air in the room is afterwards heated by coming into contact with these solid bodies. Many capital mistakes have arisen from inattention to this most important fact.
  • It is really astonishing how little attention is paid to events which happen frequently, however interesting they may be as objects of curious investigation, or however they may be connected with the comforts and enjoyments of life.
  • Things near us, and which are familiar to us, are seldom objects of our meditations.
  • How few persons are there who ever took the trouble to bestow a thought on the subject in question, though it is, in the highest degree, curious and interesting.

Miscellaneous Observations on Chimney Fireplaces (1815)[edit]

Particularly Those Used in Ireland by Robertson Buchanan, Civil Engineer in Appendix to A Treatise on the Economy of Fuel, and Management of Heat, Especially as it Relates to Heating and Drying by Means of Steam. (1815) pp. 307 ff.
  • It has frequently been a subject of inquiry, whether the ancients were acquainted with chimneys, or open fire-places. In the houses discovered at Herculaneum and Pompeii, there are no chimneys; they all appear to have been warmed by furnaces and flues.
  • [T]hough one or more expressions of ancient authors may appear to allude to a chimney, if the ancients were acquainted with the art of constructing, in mason-work, elevated funnels for conveying away the smoke, it must be allowed, when we consider the many proofs... to the contrary, that they were... extremely rare.
  • It is not known at what time chimneys began to be used. The writers of the 14th century seem either to have been unacquainted with chimneys, or to have considered them as the newest invention of luxury.
  • That there were no chimneys in the 10th, 12th, and 13th centuries, has been presumed from the terms "ignitegium" [curfew] or "inpritegium" the curfew-bell of the English, and couvrefeu of the French; which seem to intimate, that the people made fires in their houses in a hole or pit in the centre of the floor, under an opening formed in the roof; and when the fire was burned out, or the family went to bed at night, the hole was shut by a cover of wood.
  • The oldest certain account of chimneys, is in the year 1347. An inscription at Venice, records... a great many chimneys (molti comini) were thrown down by an earthquake.
    • Ref: Johann Beckmann, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Erfindungen (1780–1805) Tr. William Johnston, History of Inventions) (1797) Vol. II, p. 103.
  • The first chimney-sweepers in Germany came from Savoy, Piedmont, and the neighbouring territories; and these for a long time were the only countries where the cleaning of chimneys was followed as a trade. Hence it is conjectured, that chimneys were invented in Italy.
  • [I]n the countries of modern Europe, the use of stoves prevail throughout the north; while in France and Great Britain, open fires are used. In the warm countries of Italy and Spain, there are very few chimneys, and the only method usually practised of tempering the cold, which is sometimes severely felt, is to burn charcoal in portable brasiers.
  • A chimney consists of a fire-place, in which the fuel is consumed, and a flue to carry off the smoke and vapour arising from the combustion; thus affording the benefit of the heat of a fire without the inconvenience of its smoke. But these objects were, and still are, very imperfectly attained; a large portion of the fuel being wasted without increasing the warmth of the apartment.
  • Dr. Franklin, in 1785, published "Observations on the Cause and Cure of Smoky Chimneys." He has very satisfactorily explained all the usual causes of this defect, and shown their remedies. To this pamphlet succeeded the "Essay" of Count Rumford, in 1796, whose improvements in the construction of fire-places have been very generally adopted. These two works together, form a valuable body of information. They are well known to the public, but it is not so generally known, that exactly a hundred years ago, viz. in the year 1715, Dr. Desagulier published his book, entitled "Fires Improved, being a new method of Building Chimneys, so as to prevent their smoking, &c." which is a translation of a still older work from the French of M. Gauger, which shows that the most, if not all, the principles pointed out by Count Rumford were understood, and are explained by M. Gauger. He also proposed seven different constructions of chimneys, in which there are hollow cavities made by iron plates in the back[,] jambs and hearth, through which plates the heat passing warms the air in those cavities, which is continually coming into the room fresh and warm. This construction had many obvious advantages; but the expense and difficulty attending it, at that early period, discouraged the propagation of the invention. In our own times, however, similar constructions have been brought forward as new, probably without the knowledge of what had been done so long before, and therefore with all the merit of invention.

Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin (1837)[edit]

by Benjamin Franklin, Written by himself, and continued by his grandson and others, with his Social, Epistolary Correspondence, Philosophical, Political, and Moral Letters and Essays, and his Diplomatic Transactions as Agent at London and Minister Plenipotentiary at Versailles. Augmented by much matter not contained in any former edition. p. 47.
  • [H]aving, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who having an iron furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand. To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled, "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fire Places; wherein their construction and manner of operation is particularly explained, their advantages above every method of warming rooms demonstrated; and all objections that have been raised against the use of them, answered and obviated, &c." This pamphlet had a good effect; governor Thomas was so pleased with the construction of this stove as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declined it, from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz:
    That as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
  • An ironmonger in London, however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only instance of patents taken out of my inventions by others, though not always with the same success; which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes.
  • The use of these fire places in very many houses, both here in Pennsylvania, and the neighbouring states, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the inhabitants.

On the History and Art of Warming and Ventilating Rooms and Buildings (1845)[edit]

by Open Fires, Hypocausts, German, Dutch, Russian, and Swedish Stoves, Steam, Hot Water, Heated Air, Heat of Animals, and Other Methods with Notices of the Progress of Personal and Fireside Comfort, and of the Managment of Fuel. Illustrated by Two Hundred and Forty Figures of Apparatus. By Walter Bernan, Civil Engineer. A source.
  • [O]f the [15 1/2] millions of tons of coals raised yearly from the mines, not more than [3 1/2] millions are consumed by steam-engines and in manufacturing operations, leaving [11] or [12] millions of tons of fuel to be mismanaged in kitchens and sitting-rooms throughout the country.
    • Preface
  • The register-plate was described at the close of the fifteenth century by Alberti... and by others who wrote afterwards. Were this simple and cheap smoke-valve introduced into every cottage chimney, it would save the heat of [5] or [6] millions of tons of coals that is now annually wasted and thrown away.
    • Preface
  • Vitruvius... thus describes the construction of the hypocaust or stove for heating the caldarium or sweating room of a bath.
    The floor is made inclining, so that a ball placed on any part of it would roll towards the fireplace, by which means the heat is more equally diffused in the sweating-chamber. The floor is paved with tiles... and on these are built brick pillars... two feet high, and cemented with clay and hair mixed together. The pillars are placed at such a distance, as will allow tiles to be laid on them to form the ceiling of the hypocaust, and support the pavement of the caldarium. The air to the caldarium, or room over the hypocaust, is admitted through an aperture in the centre of its roof, from which a brazen shield is suspended by chains. By raising and lowering this shield, which opens or shuts the aperture, the heat of the caldarium is regulated.
    For heating the water to supply the baths, there are to be three caldrons... the arched cavities in which they stand are to be heated by one fire.
    After such minute instructions how to form the stove in which large quantities of wood were to be consumed, it is singular that he should omit to notice in what way the smoke produced was to be conveyed into the atmosphere. From this silence, it has been inferred that he was ignorant of what Anderson calls "the elegant and commodious tube now known by the name of a chimney."
  • Longlande, in Pierce the Plowman'sVision, feelingly alludes to the change as prompted by a mean and selfish wish to abridge the ancient hospitality observed towards the poor.
    "Elynge is that halle eche day in the wyke,
    Ther the lorde ne the lady liketh nat to sitte.
    Nowe hath eche ryche a reule to eten by hym silve
    In a privey parlour for pore mennys sake;
    Or in a chaumbre wyth a chymney, and leve the cheef halle
    That was mad for melis men to eten inne."
    The chimneyed chamber was spacious and lofty, and usually formed with a large bay window, looking into the court of the castle.
    • p. 105 Ref: Warton. Hist. Eng. Poetry, vol. ii. p. 53.
  • The strong hold of Conway is further remarkable for exhibiting another domestic refinement, not found, except at Kenilworth, in any contemporary building. A hearth is recessed into the wall, and has a flue rising from it for the passage of the smoke into the air. It is true, that after this period, flued fireplaces were sometimes made in rooms that had been erected without them, but the chimney in Conway Castle, and a similar one at Kenilworth [Castle], appear as if they had formed part of the original edifices.
  • Leland, in his Itinerary... gives an account of his visit to Bolton Castle. ...[H]e says, ..."One thynge I muche notyd in the hawle of Bolton, how chimeneys were conyened by tunnells made on the syds of the walls betwyxt the lights in the hawle, and by this means, and by no covers, is the smoke of the harthe in the hawle wondor strangely conveyed."
  • [P]revious to the erection of this stronghold, the word chimeney is of frequent occurrence. Chaucer in several places speaks of chambers with chimeneys; Longlande we have seen also employs it: and Wiclif, in his translation of the New Testament, in 1380, has the expression, "thei schulen send him into the chymeney of fier."
    In the poetical vocabulary, "chimeney" appears to be synonymous with "fireplace," or "hearth recess;" and the verbal equivalent to the word in the reformer's Testament is "furnace." Leland, who wrote a century after, in using the word almost defines it. "The chimeneys were conveyed by tunnels;" or, in other words, the fireplace was continued by a tunnel to the top of the building; a description that will accurately fix the meaning of the word when found in writers previous to the Tudor period; for it is quite obvious the chimneys in common use, and with which Leland was acquainted, had no tunnels to convey the smoke from the hearth... His observation, that the smoke from the hearth was not conveyed by "covers," also shows that at the time... covers were common appendages to fireplaces for conveying smoke. What these were, must be guessed... most likely... "canopies" or "pyramids " constructed over a hearth where it was not recessed into the wall, and often also where it was. Underneath this canopy was a hole through the wall for the escape of the smoke...

A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864)[edit]

; Being a Concise Exposition of the General Principles of the Art of Warming and Ventilating Domestic and Public Buildings, Mines, Lighthouses, Ships, etc. By Charles Tomlinson, FRS (1808-1897) A source.
  • It is hoped that these amusing details will not make the book less interesting to those who seek to become acquainted with the beautiful laws on which warming and ventilation depend; the principle of the latter art being, in fact, identical with that by which nature ventilates our globe—a hot ascending current from the warm regions, while the cooler air streams in at a lower level from the temperate regions.
    • Preface, Kings College, London (Feb 1864)
  • [A] great improvement was made in France in fire-places by Louis Savot (born 1579 ; died 1640), a licentiate in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris.
  • Savot pointed out the means for curing that domestic plague—a smoky chimney; and, like a true physician, set about investigating the causes of the disease.
  • He saw the evils of large chimneys, and the necessity for a due supply of air to the fire. The fire should be proportioned to the size of the chimney, and vice versâ, and smoke may often be prevented by lowering the mantel.
  • "In small rooms," [Savot] says, "the chimney often smokes unless the door or window be open, not only because the fire devours and carries off a large quantity of the air of the room, but also because the fire requires a continual supply of air for its support; so that, if a proportional quantity of air which the fire consumes and sends up the chimney does not enter the room (which it cannot do in small rooms with a large fire), the fire languishes, and the smoke increases, since flame is nothing more than a kindled smoke, and smoke is only an extinguished flame, or, at least, not yet kindled."
    • Ref: M. Louis Savot, L' Architecture Frangoise des Bastimens particuliers (1624) There were also editions in 1642, 1673, and 1685.
  • [Savot] also points out how the chimney may be too long for the fire, or how one large chimney may draw upon another smaller one; and he recommends that the flue be smooth on the inside, to diminish friction.
  • To improve the draught of the fire he raised the hearth about 4 inches, and lowered the mantel so as to make the opening of the fire-place about 3 feet high.
  • The width between the jambs was reduced to 3 feet; the jambs from the mantel were to be carried up sloping to the waist, or where the flue begins to be of uniform width, and the opening of the fire-place was formed like an arch.
Louis Savot's heat recirculating Fire-place, Fig 15-16, Charles Tomlinson, A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864)
  • But, where the fire-place could not be conveniently altered, Savot perforated with small holes a plate of iron, the width and length of which were nearly equal to the hearth, and this was fixed 3 inches above the tiles of the common hearth. On this perforated plate he placed & grill de fer of the same length as the billets to be burned, and raised 9 inches above the plate; the wood was placed on the grate, the charcoal on the perforated plate, and the hearth received the ashes; the air, rising through the small holes, made the charcoal burn briskly, and this so much assisted the burning of the wood, that a rapid draught up the chimney was established, and smoke prevented.
  • In Savot's description of the fire-place used to heat the Cabinet des Livres, at the Louvre, we have the first recorded attempt at combining the cheerfulness of an open fire with the economy of an enclosed stove. Fig. 15 is a front view, and Fig. 16 a vertical section of this ingenious contrivance.
  • The hearth was a thick iron plate placed above the old hearth, with an interval, n, of 3 inches between them. The two sides, or covings of the fire-place, were also formed of thick iron plates, placed 3 inches from the jambs. The space, n, at the back, and the spaces at the sides, communicated with the space, n, under the hearth ; two pipes, or channels, i, communicating with these hollow spaces, opened into the room at c, as shown by the dotted line in the section; these spaces could be closed at pleasure. When the fire was burning, the iron hearth, and the plates which formed the sides or covings, and the back, became very hot. The cold air at the floor, entering by the openings at a, into the space, n, was heated by the hearth, and rising into the spaces at the back and sides, had its temperature further increased; it then entered the channels, i, and escaped at c, thus diffusing an agreeable warmth over the whole room.
Prince Rupert's down-draught iron Fire-place, Fig 18, Charles Tomlinson, A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864)
  • In 1678, Prince Rupert invented a fire-place, so contrived that the draught took a downward direction before entering the flue, as shown in Fig. 18, in which... x is a wall built at a distance of 10 inches from the back of the hearth recess, and carried up to the mantel, where it is terminated by the wall x, thus completely closing all communication between the flue and the room. An opening, a, is made in this wall, 10 inches high, and of the same width as the length of the grate, and its sill is 2 inches above the top rib of the grate. Fixed within the chimney is a plate of iron, i, placed perpendicularly, so as to divide it into two equal parts. To the upper edge of this plate is hinged an iron door, c, as long as the chimney is wide, and this door can be brought into the position c, or into that indicated by the dotted lines at e. The fuel grate stands on the hearth, and is placed nearly in a line with the wall of the room. At the back of the ash-pit is a brick that closes the aperture through which the soot is removed. When the fire is first lighted, the smoke door, c, is pushed back, and when the draught is once established, this door is drawn forward, and the smoke being thus prevented from flowing upwards, reverberates downwards, and passes the lower edge of the division plate, i, and rises between it and the back of the hearth into the chimney flue. In boisterous weather, or with such a fire-place, in an upper room, where the chimney is short, another iron door, r, is hung under the edge of the mantel, in front of the fire-place, and extending the whole width of the opening. Its breadth varies according to circumstances, but it is made so as to reach within 2 inches of the upper bar of the fire-grate, when hanging in the position shown by the dotted lines at s. This converts the fire into a furnace, and the room will, in such case, be "warmer than it would be with a fire four times the size made in a common cradell." When the smoke flows regularly through the aperture, a, this door is thrown back out of use, as at r. In some cases, the ordinary fire-board or fire-cloth was used instead of this door.
Louis Savot's duel-heat, radiating, iron firebacked Fire-place, Fig 20, Charles Tomlinson, A Rudimentary Treatise on Warming and Ventilation (1864) p. 88.
  • An economical method of heating two rooms by one ...[fireplace] is described by Savot. A plate of iron is made to separate the fire-places of the two adjacent rooms. A fire made on the hearth, a, (Fig. 20), heats the plate, n, and this, in its turn, by its radiation, warms the air in the adjacent room, e, as effectually as a stove would do, provided its flue, i, is properly closed. Or if the second room have no chimney, it may... be warmed by making an opening in the wall... and closing it with an iron plate. When Dr. Franklin was in Paris, he saw an example of this contrivance, and estimated it highly.
  • [T]here is one writer, whose inventions have especially served as the type of many a modern fire-place, and at the time of their introduction in 1713, showed a great and sudden advance in the art of warming apartments. It has been said... that the author... was no less a man than the Cardinal Polignac, who, under the assumed name of Gauger, published a treatise, entitled "La Mechanique du Feu, ou l'Art d'en augmenter les effets et d'en diminuer la dépense, contenant le Traité de Nouvelles Cheminées qui echauffent plus que les Cheminées ordinaires, et qui ne sont point sujettes à fumer" [The Mechanics of Fire, or the Art of increasing its effects and reducing its expenditure, containing the Treatise on New Chimneys which heat much more than ordinary Chimneys, and which are not subject to smoking] This treatise was reprinted at Amsterdam in 1714, and a translation of it, by Dr. Desaguliers... was published in London in 1716.

The Open Fireplace in All Ages (1882)[edit]

by John Pickering Putman, Illustrated by 300 Cuts, including 55 Full-Page Plates. New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. A source.
  • It is remarkable that, while the open fireplace was one of the earliest contrivances invented to contribute to the health and comfort of man, the upright flue for carrying off the injurious products of combustion should have remained one of the latest.
Rumford fireplace, The Open Fireplace in All Ages (1882) by John Pickering Putman, p. 43.
Improvement of Rumford fireplace, The Open Fireplace in All Ages (1882) by John Pickering Putman, p. 43.
  • Cold air, being heavier than warm, will fall below the latter, and press it upwards to make way for itself. Thus the air in the neighborhood of the fireplace will press the hot smoke up into the chimney-throat. If this throat is only large enough to take the smoke, hot air only will enter the flue, and the draught will be rapid. But if the throat is larger than necessary, that part of the cool air of the room which enters the fireplace and becomes most heated by the fire, and next in buoyancy to the smoke, will, in its turn, be pressed up by the cooler air behind it, and enter the flue alongside of the smoke. Indeed, the entire volume of the air of the room, being warmer than the outside air, will tend to enter the flue with the smoke, so long as there be room provided for its entrance. The heat of the column, and consequently the rapidity of its rise, will therefore be proportionately diminished.
  • For this reason the throat of the chimney should be contracted until it is no larger than is sufficient to carry off the products of combustion. A similar contraction throughout the entire length of the flue would be desirable, were it not that an allowance must be made for clogging up by soot, and for the resistance by friction to the passage of the air offered by the rough walls of the flue.
  • The first, to recognize and apply this principle was Count Rumford (1796-1802). ...But he is to be blamed for not investigating or at least acknowledging the progress made by his predecessors in this particular. ...[H]owever much good he may have done in improving the form of the chimney-throat, and in calling public attention to the advantages of bevelled over rectangular jambs, he... also did much to discourage any further effort in economizing the waste heat of the smoke, and should therefore be considered as having really done more than any other one man to retard the proper development of the subject.
  • [Rumford] complains of the enormous waste of heat, and regrets that no means of saving it can be invented, in the face of the discoveries of both [Louis] Savot and [Nicholas] Gauger. Even his bevelled jambs for better reflecting the rays into the room had long since been recommended by Gauger. They were brought forward as quite new by Rumford. ...In speaking of the waste in unconsumed smoke... [Rumford] gives no way of consuming the smoke, or of alleviating the evil.
  • [T]he so-called Rumford stove or fireplace... contracted the area of the fire-chamber, and gave the sides an angle of 135° with the back, or, which is the same thing, of 45° with the front of the fireplace, in order, as he said, to reflect the greatest possible amount of heat into the room. He considered the best proportions for the chimney recess to be when the width of the back was equal to the depth from front to back, and the width of the front or opening between the jambs three times the width of the back. These proportions are used today, and are undoubtedly the best. He objected to the use of iron for these surfaces on account of its great heat-conducting power, which wasted the heat and cooled off the fire; but advocated some non-conducting substance, such as fire-clay. He also objected to circular covings, on the ground that they produced eddies or currents, which would be likely to cause the chimney to smoke.
  • But [Rumford's] chief, or perhaps only, real improvement consisted in the reduction of the size of the chimney-throat, and the rounding off of the lower edge of the chimney-breast... to afford less obstruction to the ascent of the smoke. ...This form, as given by Rumford, is, however, still defective. The smallest part of the flue should be at the bottom... so as to prevent the entrance into the flue of unburnt air from the room. ...The back of the fireplace should also incline forwards, as shown, in order to increase its radiating effect...
  • The simple and earnest style of Count Rumford's essays, the substantial nature of his acknowledged improvement, the facility with which it could be tested, and the enthusiasm with which he urges its importance, the detailed directions he gives for the guidance of the builder, and the liberality with which he offered the free use of his invention and services to the public,—all tended to make a permanent impression, and not only to give the Rumford fireplace precedence over all others, but even to place the latter altogether in the shade. So much [so] that, though infinitely more important as tending to improve the ventilation of the apartment and the draught of chimney, as well as to save the waste heat of the fuel, they were almost forgotten, and, so far as the mass of the public is concerned, remain so... to the present...
  • So great was the influence of Count Rumford as a man of science, and his ability as a writer, that his failure to acknowledge the value of the efforts of his predecessors seemed like a tacit condemnation of them, and proved the severest blow to the cause.

Report of the Proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society (1891)[edit]

of Philadelphia Reading of a communication of Mr. Charles Laubach, (Oct 6, 1897) pp. 126-127.
  • Iron stoves were unknown before 1678, when Prince Rupert, of England, attempted to convert a fireplace into a furnace. This was the first attempt to force smoke back over the fire and create heat for warming apartments by the aid of iron.
  • [A]bout 1710, Count Polignac, of France, made an attempt to convert an ordinary fireplace into a heating apparatus by simply constructing a fireplace with an iron back, hearth, and jambs. The result was only a slight saving of heat. In 1716 Dr. Desaguliers, of London, succeeded in improving the Polignac fireplace so that it could be used for burning coal.
  • The first attempt at manufacturing heating apparatus at Durham, Pa., was in 1741, by the Durham Furnace Company. The firm consisted of George Taylor (later one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), James Logan and James Morgan, iron masters (the latter being the father of General Daniel Morgan, the hero of Cowpens).
  • In 1745 Franklin invented the famous stove which bears his name. This pattern continued to be cast at the Durham Furnace until 1774, and probably later.

Encyclopædia Britannica (1911)[edit]

"Heating" Vol. 13, pages 160 ff.
  • The object of the art of heating is to secure this required warmth with the greatest economy and efficiency. ...For reasons of health it may be assumed that no system of heating is advisable which does not provide for a constant renewal of the air in the locality warmed, and on this account there is a difficulty in treating as separate... the subjects of heating and ventilation... The object of all heating apparatus is the transference of heat from the fire to the various parts of the building it is intended to warm, and this transfer may be effected by radiation, by conduction or by convection. An open fire acts by radiation; it warms the air in a room by first warming the walls, floor, ceiling and articles... and these in turn warm the air. Therefore... the air is... less heated than the walls. In many forms of fireplaces fresh air is brought in and passed around the back and sides of the stove before being admitted into the room.
  • The open grate still holds favour... though... it has been superseded by the closed stove. The old form of open fire is... wasteful of fuel, and the loss of heat up the chimney and by conduction into the brickwork backing of the stove is considerable. Great improvements, however, have been effected in the design of open fireplaces, and many ingenious contrivances... are now in the market...
'Encyclopædia Britannica' (1911) "Heating" Figs 1 & 2.
  • Unless suitable fresh air inlets are provided, this form of stove will cause the room to be draughty, the strong current of warm air up the flue drawing cold air in through the crevices in the doors and windows. The best form of open fireplace is the ventilating stove, in which fresh air is passed around the back and sides of the stove before being admitted through convenient openings into the room. This has immense advantages over the ordinary type of fireplace. The illustrations show two forms of ventilating fireplace...

Fireplace Designs (1993)[edit]

: Great fireplaces of yesterday, today and tomorrow—including more than 100 architectural drawings of creative fireplace designs by Gerld W. Weaver
  • The years of the central-hearth fireplace brought the development of the first andirons. ...Metal andirons in their functional form consisted of two vertical bars on flat or arched leg bases, with an elevated horizonal cross-brace to space them apart and keep them upright. ...The upper part of the vertical members featured extended prongs or notches. This gave support for a horizontal rod, or spit, for cooking meat, and... hanging cooking pots directly over the fire.
  • The first wall fireplaces were constructed without chimneys. They used an extended masonry or metal hood over the fire. Smoke exited through a simple hole through the wall... Early fireplaces... had no sides or other devices to form a firebox. ...Many fireplaces of the wall type were located in a corner of a room.
  • [C]rude efforts were eventually adopted to create chimneys of flues to channel the unwanted smoke... The masonry surface behind the fire aided... radiating heat, and the heavy mass... in the wall and the chimney stored heat... increasing its efficiency.
  • Experiments by, and the design work of... Benjamin Thompson led to the type of fireplace closest to the present day configuration. ...The designs Thompson perfected were known as Count Rumford Fireplaces.
  • Many homeowners abandoned the fireplace as a means of cooking with the emergence of the eighteenth century manufactured stoves. Led by the development of... the Franklin stove, other types of cast iron stoves became available, including the potbelly stove and the massive kitchen range. The advantages offered by the stoves included radiation from the heated cast iron surfaces, better draft for more efficient burning, and successful operable dampers to regulate the fire.
  • Our present century has seen the development, manufacture, and widespread use of double-walled steel heat-circulating fireplace unit.
  • The desire for safe, efficient fireplace units led designers and engineers to develop the factory-built, so-called zero clearance fireplace unit.
  • Fireplaces have... come a long way from their crude "open fire" origins to... safe, efficient units... The heavy masonry materials... are no longer necessary. The amount of space required has been dramatically reduced, and the amount of labor... as well. ...Current fireplaces provide the inherent "charm"... while serving as an efficient and usable source of heat.

The Owner Built Home (1975)[edit]

by Ken Kern
  • Cooling by evaporation of water or by fans and warming by heaters and fireplaces are artificial aids... From a practical, economic, or aesthetic point of view it makes much more sense to develop, where possible, constructional features for warming or cooling the owner-built home.
  • The design of a house around its massive, central fireplace has... always felt right to this writer-builder.
  • The fireplace designed and built by the author... is unobstructed, free-standing, and insistent, at the same time that it is supportive of the roof. It is central to the room... as it stands sunken, in its fire pit. ...[W]here the massive stone chimney rises to pierce the roof, a translucent band cascades filtered, mellow illumination [from integrated skylights] down the stone face.
  • Unfortunately, most of the technical improvements in fireplace design have not yet emerged into common usage... in spite of the fact that improvements occurred as far back as 1624, when Louis Savot invented the first heat-circulating fireplace. His unit... became the prototype for Ben Franklin's 1742 Pennsylvania stove. The 1624 French fireplace achieved 30 to 45 percent more efficiency than... most American tract-home fireplaces today!
  • Few people are aware that practically all of the technical features of Franklin's... stove were copied from earlier inventors. [Louis] Savot's concept of a preheated draft was employed by Franklin... Prince Rupert's descending flue, invented in 1687, was also applied... The smoke rose in front of a hollow metal back, passing over the top and down the opposite side. ...Ducts similar to those invented by Nicholas Gauger, in 1716, were also incorporated in the Franklin stove.
  • The most noteworthy development of the open fireplace took place in 1796, when... Count Rumford published... "Chimney Fireplaces." His main contribution was the alleviation of the smoking chimney. One fault... he... asserted, was due to the large chimney throat. Rumford also introduced the inclined fireback, which increased fireplace effeciency by providing... greater radiation. For the purpose of breaking up the current of smoke in the... downdraft, the back smoke shelf of Rumford's improved fireplace ended abruptly—a practice strictly adhered to... to this day.
  • It is more important for the owner-builder to understand the aerodynamics of combustion and ventilation than... detailed specifications for one particular fireplace...
  • [T]he operation of a standard fireplace will effect the displacement of over twice the amount room air required for optimum ventalation. Half the amount... should therefore, be drawn from outside... pass only indirectly through the building, and be prevented from immediate escape through the fireplace.
  • Fireplace installation in... efficiently weather-stripped houses creates a problem of... sufficient air for chimney draft. A partial vacuum... is the result, tending to pull smoke and combustion gases... into the room.
  • Air-intake control is the key to efficient fireplace combustion. The ignition of a correctly proportioned gas-air mixture will promote... complete combustion... and emit "clean" gases... carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen, and nitrogen.
  • When smoke and soot are... coming out of a chimney... combustion is incomplete.
  • [F]oot-chilling floor draft was... solved by Savot through... a subfloor inlet return for previously heated air. ...[T]his ...would eliminate ...trouble frequently encountered in modern homes ...
  • The owner-builder, desirous of eliminating foot-chilling floor drafts, should... consider... a sunken hearth... and there is less danger of flying sparks...
  • Count Rumford was the first to extensively study inside-fireplace proportions. ...Deep-set fuel beds produce more smoke... since there is scant combustible air at the back... [T]he rate of smoke emission increases proportionally to the depth of the firebox, especially in the early stages of firing.
  • Count Rumford's conclusions about the relationship between the chimney throat and effective draft have yet to be scientifically questioned. The throat opening should... constrain the effluent, so that it will be forced to... a speed high enough to discourage down drafts.

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