My Chimmney Question


Old 08-11-14, 03:49 PM
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My Chimmney Question

A recent thread about chimneys and where the rain goes brought to mind something I have wondered about for a long time but my question is not about modern chimneys. In the pictures of old time chimneys in the colonial and pioneer days you don't see caps so when it rained hard did it put out the fire? What about the food that was cooking did it get ruined by water and creosote washing down the chimney?
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Old 08-11-14, 04:19 PM
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Hmmm, good question! Nothing was easy for them back then.
On some cooking show I watched recently, they were telling about how a lot of the women caught on fire and got killed because their long, big round skirts caught fire from under the cooking pot!
I imagine if it rained and put the fire out, it would have been a blessing.
Old 08-11-14, 04:38 PM
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I don't know Ray. Interesting question. I think they did use chimney caps. They weren't stupid. If you Google antique chimney caps you'll see several sites about them. For instance this site:

Albeit they are called chimney pots and they don't really say they blocked out the rain.

Here is an except from a site about Historical Notes on Alabama Chimneys.
Again they don't acually say the chimney is capped to prevent rain or animals from getting.

They all refer to "pots" as a down draft preventive mechanism. Not rain inhibitors.

Further exploring shows this at Wikipedia: Chimney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But again no mention of preventing rain! Maybe it wasn't a major concern back then because housing material damage was not of any consequence. If cooking over the fire one could, I suppose put a rain cover over the pot opening. If not using the fireplace it would be a way of capturing rain water?
Old 08-11-14, 05:30 PM
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If the fire is always burning, it will turn much of the rain into steam. I imagine it would take a very hard rain to put a fire out. The rain would also have to come straight down the chimney and that isn't very likely in a down pour. Plus the chimney opening isn't as big as the fire box. So the affected area would be much smaller. I think most rain would run down the sides of the chimney.
Old 08-11-14, 08:21 PM
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That was such an interesting question Ray that I thought I would contact the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I figure if anybody has the answer they certainly will. I just sent an e-mail so no answer will be forthcoming tonight but maybe one will tomorrow. Hard to say really but I thought I would give it a shot. Certainly over the years and with many complaints from different family members chimneys improved over the years until no water came into a house. Perhaps they will have a link provided by one of their historians about chimneys.
Old 08-11-14, 08:26 PM
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I'll be very interested. Hope you get an answer. Thanks.
Old 08-12-14, 03:53 AM
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If a stove is being used, there is normally a bend in the stove pipe that will prevent water from entering the firebox. My shop chimney doesn't have a cap and creosote does run down the inside of the flue some but it isn't an issue.

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