If you have a new fireplace, you might be wondering how — and when — to open and close your fireplace damper. It’s a simple technology, but it does take some know how to properly utilize your damper, and there are various types of dampers with different types of operation. Here’s what you need to know.

When to open your damper
The timing of opening and closing your damper affects the effectiveness of your damper. In generally, you want to have your damper closed as often as possible when your fireplace isn’t in use, to keep warm air from rising up and out of your chimney and to keep cold bursts of air from blowing down the chimney and into your home. Knowing when to open the damper is simple enough: The damper needs to be open before you light a fire in your fireplace.

When to close your damper
When it comes to closing the damper, however, it takes a little more care. Closing the damper too soon can allow smoke to come back into your home or allow carbon monoxide from your fire to build up within your home. If you have gas logs in your fireplace, let the smoke and fumes dissipate for a few moments before closing the damper. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you have to be sure that all of the embers have burned out before you close the damper; smoldering embers can put off dangerous carbon monoxide. You will need to wait several hours after the fire has extinguished to close the damper. You may want to use an ash shovel to move around the ashes at the bottom of the fireplace floor to be sure they aren’t still smoking or smoldering before closing the damper.

How to open and close your damper
The operation of your damper will depend on the type of damper you have. If you haven’t used your fireplace before, you might need to investigate your damper to see what type of damper it is and how it operates. Some of the most common types of dampers include:

Poker dampers. Poker dampers operate on a long, curved handle. The handle has grooves in it to hold the damper in place. To open or close the damper, lift the handle and push or pull to move the damper to the desired position. Replace the handle when the damper is in place.

Rotary dampers. As the name implies, rotary damper work on a rotating system, with long, screw-like rods that move the damper. There will be a “key” style device in your fireplace wall. Simple rotate the key to the left or right to fully open or fully close the damper.

Pivot damper. A pivot damper operates on a long, jointed handle. You lift the handle, push open the damper, and prop the damper open by setting the handle into a groove.

Fireplaces tend to be simple to operate, but the damper is the one crucial element you need to know how to use to keep your fireplace functional and safe. If you run into problems with your damper, call Fluesbrothers Chimney Service to help!