Rumford Technical Discussion
The Modern Fireplace

Opening width 47", depth 24". The flue is about 6" wide (the blade?) and it's almost the entire length of the opening.



I'd like to schedule a call regarding my fireplace to see if it might be a rumford. If it's not, figure out how to convert it and/or make it more efficient.

What do you think so far?


It's a new fireplace and chimney, probably built in the 1970's or 80's. It's not a Rumford. Compare your dimensions and the sloping fireback and throat configuration with that of a Rumford of similar size and in the picture of a 48" cooking Rumford and with the descriptions comparing Rumfords and modern fireplaces

Some effort was made, however, to make your fireplace and chimney in an early American style. Note the similarity with the 1760 Williamsburg chimney. And read the article on historic American chimneys

You don't say how old your house is. It looks pretty new but could have been re-sided and new windows installed. You wouldn't find any massive exterior chimneys like yours dated later than about 1800 until the 1950's.

"Rumfordizing" it to make it burn cleaner and more efficiently is covered in the section on "Rumfordizing". It looks in pretty good shape, though, so you might first want to experiment with fire building. Get rid of any grate and build your fires with the firewood standing on end, tipi style as suggested in Building A Fire In Your Rumford.

If you can't stand the logs up because of the fireback sloping toward you, try putting a big log horizontally in the back and stacking several logs vertically up against that fireback log.

Oh, and get rid of the door. The frame blocks about ten percent of the opening and doors don't help any anyway.

Jim Buckley

Thanks Jim,

That's an impressive analysis. The house was built in the 50's, I just re-sided and put some windows in.

I read your tipi fire article today and tried it tonight. I did take the grate out too because I wanted to try a fire per the setup in the article.

The results were incredible. I felt the warmth of the fireplace for the first time. I had gone through my first cord by log cabin stacking on a grate. You could not feel much warmth from that.

Now that I am much happier with the warmth, do you think I should leave well enough alone, or should I pursue the conversion? I'm wondering if it will be worth the effort. In the end I'm looking for comfortable heat for a few hours per night while I'm in the room. I have glass bi-fold doors (stoll doors) so I can close it up at the end of the night.

I think I got a bit nuts reading about the inefficiencies of the fireplace, but glad it lead me to you - obviously a passionate niche expert.

Thanks for the help. Very generous of you. If we proceed I will insist on paying for your time.


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