Fireplace dampers come in two varieties: a throat damper, which is located just above the firebox, and a top-mount damper, which is installed on the exterior of the chimney at the top. In both cases, dampers are very important when you’re using your fireplace as well as when you’re not. Fluesbrothers Chimney & Fireplace of Kansas City, KS, would like to share some helpful information about getting the most out of your fireplace damper.
The purpose of a damper
A damper is a device with a plate system that opens and closes with a handle that’s located somewhere near your fireplace and is easy to access. The primary purpose of a fireplace damper is to regulate the flow of air when starting and maintaining a fire in the fireplace. A secondary purpose is to seal off the exchange of air between the home and the outside when the fireplace isn’t in use.
Correct damper operation
When you’re starting a fire, the damper should be fully open. If it’s particularly cold outside, hold a lit rolled-up newspaper beyond the damper and into the flue to warm the air. Super-cold flue air is heavy and will hinder the drafting of warmer, lighter smoky air from the fireplace. When the flue is warmed up a little, keep the damper open and light your kindling to get the logs burning. During this time, a fully open damper will provide enough draft air to allow the logs to combust properly and completely.
When you’re finished using the fireplace
After the fire has died down and no more smoke and flames are visible, you should shut the damper completely. Make sure the fire is completely out and there are no hot embers left. This can take a while after the fire dies out. This will prevent warm air from the house and radiant heat from the fireplace from escaping up the chimney. At any time the fireplace isn’t in use, it’s good practice to keep the damper closed. There are several reasons for this.
- Keeps conditioned house air from escaping
- Keeps non-conditioned outside air from moving in
- Helps to prevent chimney odors from entering the house
- Provides a barrier against the intrusion of squirrels, birds, rodents and other small animals
A note on top-mount dampers
Top-mount dampers do the same job as throat dampers where fires are concerned, but they also add a layer of protection at the top of your chimney to keep out moisture, debris and animals. If you use a throat damper, it’s a good idea to have a full-width chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney. This device will keep things out of the flue.
When to call for damper service
A squeaky or difficult-to-move damper needs to be looked at. Cleaning or repair work might solve the problem. If the damper is severely rusted out or otherwise damaged, it should be replaced. The fireplace damper is an important part of your overall fireplace/chimney system. It should be inspected once a year along with all other parts of the system to ensure safe, efficient operation.
Call your Kansas City chimney and fireplace experts
If you’re having problems with your throat or top-mount damper, Fluesbrothers is ready to help. We provide service for all parts and areas of your chimney and fireplace, including chimney sweeping, chimney inspections and chimney repairs. Reach a qualified technician today at (913) 236-7141 or get in touch with our handy contact form.