Once an essential part of a builder’s knowledge, the humble chimney was often the highest point of a house.

In these days of electrical or gas-heated houses the chimney has been forgotten in modern house design.

Now that we have used just over half of the available hydrocarbons on planet Earth, the price of gas and electrical heat will, over the next fifty years, climb to unsustainable levels. Will we see a return to the wood stove?

If so the art of chimney building will also need to return.


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8 responses to “Chimneys

  1. And the chimney-sweeps? I can just see it … a TAFE course for 5-year-olds! Maybe Howard and Costello will donate to that as a worthwhile cause too … after all, they are newly converted Greenies! NOT!


  2. lovely chimney.

    but aren’t wood stoves bad for the environment too?


  3. It depends on the wood stove. The old style parlor stove emitted lots of particulates and smoke. The wood stove with which we heat our home is an air-tight fireplace insert which has a secondary air intake which adds oxygen to the burning chamber up where the gasses are swirling around above the primary burning. The secondary burn consumes the particulates and the smog producing smokes, and extracts more BTUs from the combustible. These types of stoves burn so cleanly that once you get the wood hot and burning, you do not see any smoke coming out of the chimney. And because there is very little left in the “smoke” other than water and CO2, we don’t have trouble with creosote buildup in the chimney, which rarely needs any attention whatsoever. Sorry chimney sweeps.

    Incidentally, we don’t need a fancy chimney like what is depicted above. Our chimney is a double walled pipe of stainless steel. In fact, with the air tight stove, you probably should not have anything other than a metal pipe for a chimney, in order to keep the stove operating at its maximum efficiency.


  4. Buff, I can think of several 5yo’s who would do well as chimney-sweeps. Some of them may even earn a bed-knob – or maybe a broomstick!

    nursemyra, entire suburbs using woodfires can create a smog situation. We have had that over here in the West in some of our newer suburbs which have gone almost completely over to the fashionable fireplace.

    hmh, although I haven’t kept up with really modern developments all I can say is that I have not yet seen a really clean fireplace. It would be good if there was a good one although that then leads to worries about tree cover. It is the number of wood fires in Sub-Saharan Africa which has lead to firstly the deforestation of the region and then to its desertification.

    mister anchovy, so do I. I just fear their long-term viability


  5. Archie, do not confuse fireplaces with airtight wood stoves, both of which are extremely more efficient than an open fire such as they would be building in Sub Saharan Africa, which I believe does not use stoves or fireplaces at all.

    Also, I was under the impression that a lot of the desertification that is going on in Africa is because of over grazing. But I could be wrong.


  6. Now, this whole subject made me curious so I went on a Google search for “desertification Sub-Saharan Africa” and learned that most of the pundits believe that the single most important cause of desertification is drought. That and climate change. Then, they list cultivation of fringe habitats, deforestation (which is motivated both by needs for energy and needs for shelter), and then agricultural practices. Interestingly enough, however, they all appear to agree that the way to deal with desertification is to re-forest the areas with drought tolerant forests and change agricultural practices to sustainable ones.


  7. hmh, With drought hitting larger and larger areas of the world, including in Australia and America, we could find some parts of our countries becoming marginal and then those factors you found could begin to take effect. Strangely, there is no mention of the biggest problem of all. The problem, if it didn’t exist, would cause all the other problems to go away. Population pressure. Which raises an interesting ethical question. Should we feed 50 million people who are dying of drought and land degradation-caused hunger so that they can live through this drought and in another generation have 100 million people to feed for the same reason. Should we let nature take its course? Or should we keep all those people alive to continue having large families who will destroy even more of their land?


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