The Rumford Fireplace – They Are Not All Equal – Do It Right

The Rumford fireplace is an amazing design, an efficient and great looking fireplace.  Yes efficient.. hard to believe for many.. and some looking at the design would say it will not work or that it will be smoky in operation.

Fact is it does work, fact the Rumford is efficient.  Fact is it is even EPA approved and is the ONLY fireplace design that can support a secondary burn!

But there are modifications to the Rumford that have been done over the years and many do not work, they neglect the science behind the design – remember that Rumford himself was a physicist and understood Fluid Dynamics, Thermal and Heat Properties and built the fireplace design with science in mind. One of these early design changes was actually Thomas Jefferson, making some drawings to “improve the design” which unfortunately neglected science and frankly were a failure.

Fact is Rumford did it right and we can still use his original design today if we implement correctly – do not attempt to modify it or you may end up with a smoky mess!

If you want an efficient masonry fireplace – why not research and consider a Rumford – it does work!

Building a Rumford Fireplace!

Are you thinking of a fireplace in your home, or maybe have one and it simply does not provide heat!

Ever consider the Rumford?  Ever hear of a Rumford?

A Rumford is an old designed – designed to heat the home rather than the outside.  But the Rumford with the tall openings creates a beautiful and efficient fire that you and your family will love – and the shape of the opening will ensure you get the most heat from the fire as it burns.  Your friends and family will love. The unique shape ensures that you will get the most heat out of the wood you burn.

You see Count Rumford understood that the only really useful heat generated by any fireplace was the radiant heat. Any air that was heated by the fire simply went up the chimney, he therefore worked to design a fireplace with a large opening – which was fairly shallow – to reflect as much heat as possible back into the room.

The problem with the design is that a tall, wide shallow fireplace by design will tend to smoke, making the room uncomfortable. However, keep in mind that Rumford was a physicist and understood fluid dynamics – in fact he was way ahead of his time – in his design he essentially created a venture or nozzle which essentially will pull the smoke up through the throat into the receiving smoke chamber.  Because of this in the Rumford design the smoke is effectively pulled out the chimney instead of lingering and entering the room – an added benefit for those new to lighting a fireplace.

The problem is that is not the way masons were trained and many masons today, who are trained to build modern fireplace will have trouble believing a Rumford will draw – that is until they see it work.  You see the rules and Building Codes are different – in a modern fireplace the fireback is usually sloped forward pushing the gases from combustion toward the front, the incoming air from the room flows over the steel lintel and mixes with the heated gases, causing a turbulent smoky mixture.  Most masons, who while good at their job, do not understand fluid-dynamics and will tell you that you need to “cross over” or drop the lintel about 200 mm or so below the damper which will create a pocket for this turbulent smoke – or else there will be smoke coming out of the fireplace opening.

Because of the design, the opening into the chimney is only half as large, it takes more room for this turbulent air to get out.  It is a more efficient design, invented by a physicist.   The Rumford is more efficient, radiates more heat and wastes less heat to the outdoors.  Frankly, other than for aesthetic benefits one wonders why the modern fireplace design ever came into existence – it really was because an architect liked the looks – did not care about efficiency and designed around looks over performance.  It is rather unfortunate as our whole system now has grown accustomed to this design and feels there is no other that will work!  And a poor design it is – built on looks versus function – and with a Rumford you can actually have both!  Yes the Rumford – although not today considered traditional can be a beautiful and a functional fireplace which can heat the home efficiently.




What is a Rumford Fireplace?

What is a Rumford?  In fact you may have one and not even know it.  Really it is a fireplace design by Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford; an American born physicist and inventor whose challenges to established physical theory were part of the 19th century revolution in thermodynamics. His work involved a wide area but include gunnery, explosives, insulation and heat. And of course the fireplace design named after him – the Rumford.

The Rumford is a fireplace that works, and an existing and possibly compromised fireplace can even sometimes be turned into a Rumford.  The Rumford was popular when peopled heated with a fireplace instead of using it for visual entertainment.  But in the environment of high electrical costs; you want the heat from your fireplace!

Yes the modern fireplace has a stylish look, but frankly they don’t work.  They quite simply are not as effective as the old classic Rumford.  The Rumford has been with us a long time, invented in the 18th century.. and yet it still works better than the traditional fireplace of the 21st century – which often time sends much of the heat skyward.

In design the Rumford was about as wide as it was high, the total depth and width of rear wall is approximately 1/3 the width / height of opening – note by Ontario Building Code this must be at least 300mm in depth.  And the back wall is vertical in design.

Get professional help and get a Rumford – and heat your home in style and a traditional working fireplace.  Get a Rumford.  More heat and less smoke!