The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 225

speculation, for keeping rooms warmer in cold weather
than they generally are, and with less fire. It is this. The opening
of the chimney is contracted, by brick-work faced with marble slabs,
to about two feet between the jams, and the breast brought down to
within about three feet of the hearth. An iron frame is placed just
under the breast, and extending quite to the back of the chimney,
so that a plate of the same metal may slide horizontally backwards
and forwards in the grooves on each side of the frame. This plate
is just so large as to fill the whole space, and shut the chimney
entirely when thrust quite in, which is convenient when there is no
fire. Drawing it out, so as to leave a space between its further edge
and the back, of about two inches; this space is sufficient for the
smoke to pass; and so large a part of the funnel being stopt by the
rest of the plate, the passage of warm air out of the room, up the
chimney, is obstructed and retarded, and by that means much cold air
is prevented from coming in through crevices, to supply its place.
This effect is made manifest three ways. First, when the fire burns
briskly in cold weather, the howling or whistling noise made by the
wind, as it enters the room through the crevices, when the chimney
is open as usual, ceases as soon as the plate is slid in to its
proper distance. Secondly, opening the door of the room about half
an inch, and holding your hand against the opening, near the top of
the door, you feel the cold air coming in against your hand, but
weakly, if the plate be in. Let another person suddenly draw it out,
so as to let the air of the room go up the chimney, with its usual
freedom where chimneys are open, and you immediately feel the cold
air rushing in strongly. Thirdly, if something be set against the
door, just sufficient, when the plate is in, to keep the door nearly
shut, by resisting the pressure of the air that would force it open:
then, when the plate is drawn out, the door will be forced open by
the increased pressure of the outward cold air endeavouring to get in
to supply the place of the warm air, that now passes out of the room
to go up the chimney. In our common open chimneys, half the fuel is
wasted, and its effect lost; the air it has warmed being immediately
drawn

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