Before you know it, winter will be here, and families will be gathering beside the warm glow of a wood-burning fireplace. A functioning chimney damper is a vital component necessary whether you are using the fireplace or not. The chimney damper is a metal or iron plate that regulates airflow (draft) in the chimney. It is typically installed in the throat of the chimney, but some fireplaces have a top-sealing damper. When the chimney damper is working correctly, it will open and close easily. If you find that the damper is hard to open or close, noisy, or isn’t working, have inspected by a
Certified Chimney Professional®.
Four Critical Jobs of a Damper
A working chimney damper is crucial for several reasons:
It draws outside air in the chimney to start a fire in the fireplace
You can’t start a fire without oxygen. When the damper is open, outside air is drawn into the chimney to provide the draft necessary to start the fire in your fireplace.
It lets the smoke and exhaust vent out the flue when you’re using the fireplace
That’s why it is vital always to check that the chimney damper is open fully before starting a fire in the fireplace. Otherwise, a dangerous backdraft can occur that pushes plumes of smoke and fumes, including toxic carbon monoxide gas, into your home. Insufficient airflow in the flue also results in incomplete combustion, producing more soot and creosote, so you will need to clean the chimney more often.
It helps control the flame’s intensity to manage the fire
After the fire gets going, partially closing the damper will reduce the oxygen intake for a slower, mellow fire. As a result, it will last longer and provide more heat to your living space. However, don’t close the damper all the way until the fire is entirely out.
It prevents heat or conditioned air inside your home from going out of the chimney
When the damper is closed, a working damper creates an airtight seal to maintain the heat or conditioned air inside your home. If the chimney damper is damaged, it may not seal completely, allowing the indoor air to escape resulting in higher energy costs. Moisture and pests can also enter the fireplace and ultimately your home through gaps in the damper.
What Should You Do if Your Damper Isn’t Working?
If your chimney damper isn’t working correctly, it should be inspected by a certified chimney technician as soon as possible. The damper is also susceptible to moisture, creosote, and corrosive residues from combustion gases can accelerate its deterioration and cause it to corrode or rust, making it difficult to open or close. Also, the fireplace’s intense heat can cause warping, and it may not close fully, reducing the energy efficiency in your home. Keeping up with annual chimney inspections and chimney cleanings will help minimize repairs and prolong the damper’s lifespan.
If you reside in Independence, MO, or throughout the Kansas City KS/MO metro area, contact Fluesbrothers Chimney Service for expert chimney inspections, repairs, and replacements.