History Of The Fireplace | How The Modern Fireplace Came To Be
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History of the Fireplace: How It Became What It Is Today

People began using fire in controlled environments during the lengthy Middle Ages, which spanned from approximately the 5th through the 15th centuries. It was a time of kingdoms, hierarchies, and territorial wars, but it was also a time when people needed to be warm.

Chimney Specialists of Highland, WI, would like to take you back on a brief trip to see how the fireplace we know today began.

fireplace installations in Madison WIIn the beginning . . .

During the early Middle Ages, people lived in tight communities that focused on work and the rules of whoever was running the local show (i.e., the ruler or lord). Their homes were simple structures, and their methods for heating their homes were simple, too.

Early fireplaces were built into the walls of houses and included an opening for smoke to move away from the inside of the dwelling. Householders used whatever they could find to burn, including branches and even animal dung (because both were plentiful).

Burning a fire this way wasn’t particularly efficient because there was no way to control the draft like we do today with our fireplace dampers and properly constructed chimneys.

Mama Mia – that’s a good idea

The Italians in the 16th century created the first heating stove. The combustion chamber was closed as opposed to wide open, making heat production a lot safer and more efficient. The closed system also created much less smoke. Early stoves were made from brick, cast iron, and even pottery.

These helpful appliances began showing up in many parts of the developed world during the 17th and 18th centuries. Soon, a more advanced version of the wall-installed fireplace was developed. Fireplaces and stoves quickly became centerpieces in homes, serving as places to gather, talk, relax, and get warm.

Problems with early fireplaces

Until more recent times, fireplaces were fraught with problems. Because of inefficient drafting physics, there was always the potential problem of smoke and carbon monoxide moving into the home. Fires were far more common than they are today – this includes fires in the venting or chimney structures as well as in parts of the home near the fireplace.

“If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned” is an old saying that might have started during the Middle Ages. People then simply didn’t understand the science of fire, the physics of drafting or the best techniques to remove flammable creosote from their crude heating systems.

Fireplaces today

We can thank our forebears for coming up with the ingenious idea to take fire from a blazing outdoor pit into the home and put it in a closed system. Today, the fireplace has evolved into an appliance that’s far more than a safe and efficient heat producer. Modern fireplaces are gorgeous amenities that lend class and elegance to a home – a far cry from the thrown-together structures people relied on in the “old days.”

Today, we understand fireplace and chimney safety. We know how to reduce the chance of chimney fires by properly removing (sweeping) creosote. We understand how to build chimneys that create efficient drafts, thereby keeping smoke and deadly carbon monoxide out of our homes.

We know how to make these appliances in many shapes, sizes, and styles, providing modern earth dwellers with plenty of choices on just how they want their fireplaces to look.

fireplace and stoves showroom in spring green wiReady for a new fireplace?

If you’ve been thinking of bringing home a new fireplace or stove, visit one of our hearth stores soon:

Chimney Specialists Inc.

869 Main Street, Highland, WI

In Highland, call (608) 929-4887.

Dubuque Fireplace & Patio

925 Century Drive, Dubuque, Iowa

In Dubuque, call (563) 582-5156.

You can also get in touch with our contact form.

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