A chimney is a structure that provides ventilation for hot flue gases or smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. Chimneys are typically vertical, or as near as possible to vertical, to ensure that the gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion in what is known as the stack, or chimney effect. The space inside a chimney is called a flue. Chimneys may be found in buildings, steam locomotives and ships. In the United States, the term smokestack (colloquially, stack) is also used when referring to locomotive chimneys or ship chimneys, and the term funnel can also be used.
The height of a chimney influences its ability to transfer flue gases to the external environment via stack effect. Additionally, the dispersion of pollutants at higher altitudes can reduce their impact on the immediate surroundings. In the case of chemically aggressive output, a sufficiently tall chimney can allow for partial or complete self-neutralization of airborne chemicals before they reach ground level. The dispersion of pollutants over a greater area can reduce their concentrations and facilitate compliance with regulatory limits.
Chimneys in ordinary dwellings were first built of wood and plaster or mud. Since then chimneys have traditionally been built of brick or stone, 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 with a variety of designs are sometimes placed on the top of chimneys.
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