Methods of Heating Buildings
: Open Fireplaces and Stoves.
Before the time of stoves and furnaces, man heated his modest dwelling by open fires alone. The burning logs gave warmth to the cabin and served as a primitive cooking agent; and the smoke which usually accompanies burning bodies was carried away by means of the chimney. But in an open fireplace much heat escapes with the smoke and is lost, and only a small portion streams into the room and gives warmth.
When fuel is placed in an open fireplace and lighted, the air immediately surrounding the fire becomes warmer and, because of expansion, becomes lighter than the cold air above. The cold air, being heavier, falls and forces the warmer air upward, and along with the warm air goes the disagreeable smoke. The fall of the colder and heavier air, and the rise of the warmer and hence lighter air, is similar to the exchange which takes place when water is poured on oil; the water, being heavier than oil, sinks to the bottom and forces the oil to the surface. The warmer air which escapes up the chimney carries with it the disagreeable smoke, and when all the smoke is got rid of in this way, the chimney is said to draw well.
As the air is heated by the fire it expands, and is pushed up the chimney by the cold air which is constantly entering through loose windows and doors. Open fireplaces are very healthful because the air which is driven out is impure, while the air which rushes in is fresh and brings oxygen to the human being.
But open fireplaces, while pleasant to look at, are not efficient for either heating or cooking. The possibilities for the latter are especially limited, and the invention of stoves was a great advance in efficiency, economy, and comfort. A stove is a receptacle for fire, provided with a definite inlet for air and a definite outlet for smoke, and able to radiate into the room most of the heat produced from the fire which burns within. The inlet, or draft, admits enough air to cause the fire to burn brightly or slowly as the case may be. If we wish a hot fire, the draft is opened wide and enough air enters to produce a strong glow. If we wish a low fire, the inlet is only partially opened, and just enough air enters to keep the fuel smoldering.
When the fire is started, the damper should be opened wide in order to allow the escape of smoke; but after the fire is well started there is less smoke, and the damper may be partly closed. If the damper is kept open, coal is rapidly consumed, and the additional heat passes out through the chimney, and is lost to use.
FIG. - The open fireplace as an early method of heating.
FIG. - A furnace. Pipes conduct hot air to the rooms.