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What is A Rumford Fireplace?

A Rumford style fireplace is a fireplace system designed like the one that gave them their name. The original “Rumford fireplace” belonged to Count Rumford, the man who designed it and a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite the title, he was an “American” physicist born in Woburn, Massachusetts, and – also a loyalist in 1776 – he understood heat!

Rumford Fireplace - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MI

A Revolutionary Design

In Jefferson’s day, “Rumford fireplaces” were state-of-the-art, physics-of-drafting, vast improvements over previous designs. As a result, Monticello of course needed them and they were quickly copied by everyone everywhere. They were so widespread, they were presumed to be in houses – ‘taken for granted’ — like central heating in modern homes.

These ‘odd-looking’ fireplaces are again surfacing in popular consciousness, with the televised restoration of historic homes and renovations of historical ones. They are also useful in achieving compliance with local emission-control and efficiency standards that exist in some areas. All of these things are contributing to a resurrection of Count Rumford’s fireplace design.

Back to the Future

A Rumford fireplace has a tall and shallow firebox and a curved narrow throat that slopes up from a straight fireback. Tall and shallow translate into more radiant heat, the sloped throat means less ‘turbulence in the area’ to prevent fireplace smoke from going up it. Thus, it is a more efficient source of heat, with fewer emissions due to improved draft. It is easy to see why it makes such an impression every time it appears!

The design can be reproduced exactly as a masonry fireplace, but it is also now styling pre-fabs. Again taller and shallower than other designs, Rumford pre-fab fireplaces again are more efficient and radiate more heat. In a decorative appliance that cannot handle a roaring fire, that is heat we can all learn to appreciate. Be sure to contact us for a chimney appointment if you would like help with your fireplace.