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Chimmey History
Chimneys are used by millions of people every year as a fire is burned in the fireplace on those cold winter nights. The fireplace and chimney have a long history that dates back to the 18th century. Count Rumford wrote a very important document in 1796 that explained that fireplaces were to be deep and the fireplace chimneys, to vent them. He explained that the chimneys were designed to extend out through the exterior wall, and in most cases were to be built on the outside of homes.

After this time, the Rumford fireplaces became exceedingly popular. They were built into the outside walls since it was much easier for the chimneys to be built over shallow fireplaces than it was to create a slope in the flue as a way of reaching through the wall to the outside chimney.

The first chimney design was more out of necessity than appearance. However, the Victorian era changed that when the fireplaces became a hot item. They were fancy and functional, and could be used with small, shallow coal fireplaces or gas models. The fireplaces themselves remained shallow in design for many years, which meant the chimneys were still a part of the inside, exterior walls of the home.

This method of fireplaces lasted through the late 1940s. At this time, a chimney was designed and built to vent a coal fireplace and shallow gas fireplace, still seen by the 8 x 8-inch or 8 x12-inch flues that stick out from the top of chimneys. However, when the ranch-style home became popular in the 1950s, central heating was incorporated into the house plans, meaning that the fireplace or stove was no longer the primary source of heat.

It was at this time that the design and functionality of the fireplace headed in a different direction. The fireplaces were now horizontal to fit with the new ranch home architecture. This meant the design was deeper than they had ever been in the previous 150 years. This new design helped to keep the chimney from smoking. This was also the first time since the 18th century that chimneys were again built on the outside of the house.

By the 1970s and even into the 1980s, fireplaces were no longer built in every home but considered optional. The chimneys were not being tracked on the outside of the house and sided with wood that matched the house as a way of hiding the metal or steel.

Today, homes are once again including more and more fireplaces, with the chimney on the outside of the house. In fact, many of the newer homes have smaller chimneys that are reflective of the ones built in the late 1890s. These chimneys today still sit on the outside and are visible about the roof just as they were more than 100 years ago.

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