Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
How a Rumford Fireplace or Masonry Chimney
can Enhance your Home

by By Mary Sauer, 1/23/16
We all have different priorities for our homes. At the same time, most of us can come to an agreement on three essential characteristics for the place we call home. We want our home to be comfortable; we want our home to be efficient; and we want our home to be beautiful. At Modernize, we believe that with the right resources and tools, homeowners can have all three of these priorities.

In traditional architecture, the fireplace provided all three of those benefits to homes, but in modern homes, built after central heating became common, the way we construct fireplaces robs our homes of efficiency. Conventional, or modern fireplaces are designed to carry away the smoke and not burn the house down but no longer built to maximize the heat brought into the home. Deeper and lower than 18th century fireplaces, modern fireplaces don't radiate as much heat.

And with bigger throats and flue systems, modern fireplaces waste more heated room air up the chimney than necessary.

What's Wrong the Conventional Fireplaces?

In the majority of homes built since 1950, if there is a fireplace it is most likely the less efficient, conventional fireplace described above. In an attempt to make sure fireplaces didn't smoke, too much dilution air was allowed to go up the chimney to carry away the smoke with the result that the fireplaces were less efficient.

Modern fireplaces were also lower and deeper, partly to look more horizontal in keeping with the then popular ranch homes but also to make the fireplace less likely to smoke. But lower, deeper fireplace don't radiant nearly as well as tall shallow fireplaces with wide angled sides.

Finally, the fire is quenched sooner in a low fireplace so more smoke goes up the chimney as pollution rather than usefully burning up in the fireplace.

So less radiant heat, more heated room air wasted up the chimney and more pollution, modern fireplaces were just not very efficient nor clean-burning.

How a Rumford Fireplace Fixes Both the Emissions and Efficiency Problem

Back in the 18th century Rumford addressed the same problem - deep fireplaces that didn't radiate much heat, wasted too much air up the chimney and polluted the air. Creating a fireplace that is able to burn up the smoke in the fireplace where it contributes to the radiant heat and minimizes wasting smoke up the chimney to pollute the air went a long way toward making fireplaces more efficient. Rumford also modified his 18th century fireplaces to make the firebox shallow with jambs that were widely splayed, allowing them to reflect large amounts of radiant heat back into the the home.

Rumford Fireplace were incredibly popular in homes built after their invention in 1796 up until the mid 1800s.

An important feature of the Rumford Fireplace is how the rounded, streamlined throat and plumb fireback work together to improve draft without needing so much dilution air to carry away the smoke.

Increasing Efficiency with a Masonry Chimney

In general, most homes built since the 1980's have metal chimneys that were manufactured in a factory. While some of these chimneys may appear the be made of brick, they are most likely constructed of metal inside a wooden frame chase often with a faux-brick facade. In the past, chimneys were built from brick by skilled masons at the same time the home was built.

Metal chimneys may be easy to install, and easy to maintain, but they typically have a very short life. If you want to increase the cost efficiency of your fireplace, we suggest considering the use of a Masonry Chimney. With proper care, masonry fireplaces and chimneys will outlive factory built models by a long shot, providing warmth to homes for years to come.

There are many ways homeowners can enhance their homes and meet their priorities of comfort, efficiency, and beauty. A Rumford Fireplace with a Masonry Chimney is the perfect place to begin, as these structures are beautifully constructed, provide the comfort of warmth to the home, and perform in the most efficient manner.

Here is an example of a real masonry chimney.

Mary Sauer writes for Modernize. She has also been published by Babble, Mom.me, and What to Expect.
She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two young daughters.

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