AskDefine | Define chimney

Dictionary Definition



1 a vertical flue that provides a path through which smoke from a fire is carried away through the wall or roof of a building
2 a glass flue surrounding the wick of an oil lamp [syn: lamp chimney]

User Contributed Dictionary



From cheminee, from caminus, from sc=Grek.


a UK - /tʃɪmni:/


  1. A vertical tube or hollow column used to emit environmentally polluting gaseous and solid matter (including but not limited to by-products of burning carbon or hydro-carbon based fuels); a flue.
    • 1883: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island
      Our chimney was a square hole in the roof: it was but a little part of the smoke that found its way out, and the rest eddied about the house, and kept us coughing and piping the eye.
  2. The glass flue surrounding the flame of an oil lamp.
  3. The smokestack of a steam locomotive.
  4. A narrow cleft in a rock face.


vertical tube or hollow column; a flue
  • Chinese: 煙囪, 烟囱 (yān cōng)
  • Czech: komín
  • Dutch: schoorsteen, schouw
  • Finnish: savupiippu
  • German: Kamin, Esse, Schlot, Schornstein
  • Greek: καπνοδόχος (kapnodóchos)
  • Hungarian: kémény
  • Japanese: (, entotsu)
  • Norwegian: pipe , skorstein
  • Russian: труба (trubá) , дымоход (dymoxód)
  • Slovene: dimnik
  • Spanish: chimenea
  • Swedish: skorsten
glass flue surrounding the flame of an oil lamp
UK: smokestack of a steam locomotive
  • Chinese: 煙囪, 烟囱 (yān cōng)
  • Czech: komín
  • Dutch: schoorsteen
  • Finnish: savupiippu
  • German: Schlot
  • Norwegian: skorstein
  • Russian: труба (trubá)
  • Slovene: dimnik
narrow cleft in a rock face

Extensive Definition

A chimney is a system for venting hot flue gases or smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. They are typically almost vertical to ensure that the hot gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion through the chimney effect (also known as the stack effect). The space inside a chimney is called a flue. Chimneys may be found in buildings, steam locomotives and ships. In the US, the term smokestack (colloquially, stack) is also used when referring to locomotive chimneys. The term funnel is generally used for ship chimneys and sometimes used to refer to locomotive chimneys.. Chimneys are tall to increase their draw of air for combustion and to disperse pollutants in the flue gases over a greater area so as to reduce the pollutant concentrations in compliance with regulatory or other limits. The term chimney may also be applied to natural features, particularly in rock formations.


Romans used tubes inside the walls to draw smoke out of bakeries but real chimneys appeared only in northern Europe in the 12th century. Industrial chimneys became common in the late 18th century.
Chimneys have traditionally been built of brick, both in small and large buildings. Early chimneys were of a simple brick construction. Later chimneys were constructed by placing the bricks around tile liners. To control downdrafts venting caps (often called chimney pots) with a variety of designs are sometimes placed on the top of chimneys.
Industrial chimneys are commonly referred to as flue gas stacks and are typically external structures, as opposed to being built into the wall of a building. They are generally located adjacent to a steam-generating boiler or industrial furnace and the gases are carried to it with ductwork. Today the use of reinforced concrete has almost entirely replaced brick as a structural component in the construction of industrial chimneys. Refractory bricks are often used as a lining, particularly if the type of fuel being burned generates flue gases containing acids. Modern industrial chimneys sometimes consist of a concrete windshield with a number of flues on the inside. A chimney cowl or wind directional cap is helmet shaped chimney cap that rotates to align with the wind and prevent a back draft of smoke and wind back down the chimney.
A chimney damper is a metal spring door placed at the top of the chimney with a long metal chain that allows you to open and close the chimney from the fireplace.
In the late Middle Ages in Western Europe the design of crow-stepped gables arose to allow maintenance access to the chimney top, especially for tall structures such as castles and great manor houses.

Chimney draught or draft

(See the Flue gas stacks article for more details)
When coal, oil, natural gas, wood or any other fuel is combusted in a stove, oven, fireplace, hot water boiler or industrial furnace, the hot combustion product gases that are formed are called flue gases. Those gases are generally exhausted to the ambient outside air through chimneys or industrial flue gas stacks (sometimes referred to as smokestacks).
The combustion flue gases inside the chimneys or stacks are much hotter than the ambient outside air and therefore less dense than the ambient air. That causes the bottom of the vertical column of hot flue gas to have a lower pressure than the pressure at the bottom of a corresponding column of outside air. That higher pressure outside the chimney is the driving force that moves the required combustion air into the combustion zone and also moves the flue gas up and out of the chimney. That movement or flow of combustion air and flue gas is called "natural draught/draft", "natural ventilation", "chimney effect", or "stack effect". The taller the stack, the more draught or draft is created.
Designing chimneys and stacks to provide the correct amount of natural draught or draft involves a number design factors, many of which require trial-and-error reiterative methods.
As a "first guess" approximation, the following equation can be used to estimate the natural draught/draft flow rate by assuming that the molecular mass (i.e., molecular weight) of the flue gas and the external air are equal and that the frictional pressure and heat losses are negligible:
Q = C\; A\; \sqrt


A characteristic problem of chimneys is they develop deposits of creosote on the walls of the structure when used with wood as a fuel. Some types of wood, such as pine, generate more creosote than others. Deposits of this substance can interfere with the airflow and more importantly, they are flammable and can cause dangerous chimney fires if the deposits ignite in the chimney. Thus, it is recommended — and in some countries even mandatory — that chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned on a regular basis to prevent these problems. The workers who perform this task professionally are called chimney sweeps. In the middle ages in some parts of Europe, a crow-stepped gable design was developed, partially to provide access to chimneys without use of ladders.
Masonry (brick) chimneys have also proved particularly susceptible to crumbling during earthquakes. Government housing authorities in quake-prone cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles now recommend building new homes with stud-framed chimneys around a metal flue. Bracing or strapping old masonry chimneys has not proved to be very effective in preventing damage or injury from earthquakes. Perhaps predictably, a new industry provides "faux-brick" facades to cover these modern chimney structures.
Other problems include "spalling" brick, in which moisture seeps into the brick and then freezes, cracking and flaking the brick and loosening mortar seals.

Dual-use chimneys

Some very high chimneys are used for carrying antennas of mobile phone services and low power FM/TV-transmitters. Special attention must be paid to possible corrosion problems if these antennas are near the exhaust of the chimney.
In some cases the chimneys of power stations are used also as pylons. However this type of construction is not very common, because of corrosion problems of conductor cables.
The Dům Dětí a Mládeže v Modřanech in Prague, Czech Republic is equipped with an observation deck.

Cooling tower used as an industrial chimney

At some power stations, which are equipped with plants for the removal of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, it is possible to use the cooling tower as a chimney. Such cooling towers can be seen in Germany at the Power Station Staudinger Grosskrotzenburg and at the Power Station Rostock. At power stations that are not equipped for removing sulfur dioxide, such usage of cooling towers could result in serious corrosion problems.

Notable chimneys


External links

chimney in Catalan: Xemeneia
chimney in Czech: Komín
chimney in German: Schornstein
chimney in Modern Greek (1453-): Καπνοδόχος
chimney in Spanish: Chimenea
chimney in Esperanto: Kamentubo
chimney in French: Cheminée
chimney in Galician: Cheminea
chimney in Korean: 굴뚝
chimney in Italian: Ciminiera
chimney in Hebrew: ארובה
chimney in Lithuanian: Kaminas
chimney in Dutch: Schoorsteen
chimney in Japanese: 煙突
chimney in Norwegian: Skorstein
chimney in Narom: Cheunm'née
chimney in Polish: Komin
chimney in Portuguese: Chaminé
chimney in Sicilian: Ciminìa
chimney in Slovenian: Dimnik
chimney in Finnish: Savupiippu
chimney in Swedish: Skorsten
chimney in Walloon: Tchiminêye
chimney in Vlaams: Koave

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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