A chimney damper is an important aspect of your chimney and fireplace. Many homeowners are unaware of what a damper does and how to determine if it is working correctly. Understanding how to use a chimney damper and detect complications with it are important aspects of maintaining a safe and efficient fireplace.
What Is a Chimney Damper?
A chimney damper is responsible for letting the smoke out of a fireplace flue. This is an important aspect of your chimney during the winter when you use the fireplace and during summer when the fireplace is not in use. It is essential to understand when to use a chimney damper to ensure your fireplace operates as intended.
Without a chimney damper, the fumes and smoke from your fireplace will immediately fill your home and not exit through the chimney flue. The chimney damper plays an important role during the summer because atmospheric changes combined with air conditioning can cause hot outdoor air to enter your home through the chimney. The chimney damper prevents this warm air from entering your home and helps maintain energy efficiency.
Benefits of a Chimney Damper
Some of the most important benefits of chimney dampers include:
- Keep cold air out: Dampers help regulate the temperature within the house to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency. In winter, a chimney damper can help create a seal when you’re not using your fireplace to keep cold air out of your home. Without a damper, outside air can easily work its way down the chimney and enter your home, making your home’s heating system work harder.
- Prevent smoke from entering the home: Another important benefit of a chimney damper is it helps keep smoke away and prevents it from entering your home. Before starting a fire, you need to open the damper so the smoke has a natural way to funnel through the chimney. Just as a damper can keep cold air from your home, it can also allow smoke to escape.
- Control fire intensity: Chimney dampers can also help control the overall intensity of your fire. You can adjust how long or strong your fire burns, as adjusting your damper can change the oxygen level available to the fire. This control allows you to directly influence the overall power and intensity.
- Ideal draft: A proper draft is an important aspect of any fire that allows the smoke to flow upward out of the chimney. A top-sealing damper can establish an ideal draft by sealing the top of the chimney, so opposing air drafts are not established down the chimney.
- Pest protection: Top-sealing dampers can also serve as a protective barrier from various pests. When a top-sealing damper is sealed, no pests can enter your chimney and take up residence. Many top-sealing dampers also feature a mesh-lined cap to protect against pests, even when the fireplace is in use.
Types of Chimney Dampers
There are two types of chimney dampers that are commonly seen in fireplaces, including throat dampers and top-sealing dampers. The main difference between each of these chimney dampers is where they are located. While both chimney dampers can improve the efficiency of your fireplace, each has unique benefits.
Chimney Throat Damper
A throat damper and is one of the most common dampers found in older fireplaces. A throat damper is located directly above the fireplace opening and is typically made of steel, cast iron or stainless steel. A throat damper resembles a trap door as it has a flap that closes over a track and is usually controlled by something resembling a poker or a knot.
As a chimney throat damper closes, it forms a metal-to-metal seal. One important aspect of these dampers is that they may be more susceptible to rust and water damage, decreasing efficiency over time. Because a throat damper is positioned so close to the fireplace’s heat, it may eventually warp and no longer provide the necessary barrier required.
A top-mount damper is a type of damper that sits on top of the chimney instead of inside it, as a throat damper does. A top-mount damper is similar to a chimney cap, but it provides other benefits. When open, a top-sealing damper can help keep moisture, debris and even animals out of the chimney. When closed, a top-sealing damper often creates a much tighter seal than a throat damper.
A chimney energy top damper can achieve a much tighter seal because it contains a gasket. The seal is connected to a stainless steel cable that goes down the chimney flue into the firebox to be easily opened and shut. Because of this essential feature, a top-mount damper is much more energy-efficient and keeps moisture out of the chimney.
Keeping the flue at a warm temperature is necessary for not letting cold air leak into other rooms. Top-mount dampers stop cold air from entering at the source: the top of the chimney. Cold flues are also less likely to successfully move smoke out of your chimney when the fireplace is in use, which is another reason it’s in your best interest to keep your flue as warm as possible.
How Often Do Dampers Need to Be Replaced?
Routine chimney inspections and cleanings are important steps to ensure your fireplace and chimney can operate safely and efficiently. During a chimney inspection, a chimney sweep can evaluate the state of your chimney damper and detect if there is an inadequate seal or rust. If your damper is not in ideal condition, you may need a chimney damper replacement.
Even if you have a throat damper in good condition, you may want to consider replacing it with a top-sealing chimney damper to improve overall efficiency. The overall life span of a chimney damper depends on numerous factors, including how often you use your fireplace and if you stay on top of necessary repairs.
Trusted Chimney Damper Inspections and Repairs
At Atlanta Chimney Doctor, we’re a leading chimney inspection and repair provider dedicated to meeting and exceeding all our customers’ needs. Our owner is present on all jobs to ensure each customer receives the unique care and attention they deserve. We are a licensed and fully insured business, offering chimney cleaning, masonry repairs, fireplace remodeling, chimney cap services and more.
Atlanta Chimney Doctor is a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild of America and the Atlanta Better Business Bureau. Additionally, all our chimney cleaners are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. To learn more about our services or company, request a service online today.