It can come as quite a shock: Stand in front of your unlit fireplace on a cold day, and you might notice an icy chill surrounding your hearth. Your fireplace is supposed to add to the warmth and comfort of your home, so why is cold air entering your fireplace? The draft you feel from your chimney is a common problem. It’s estimated that up to 8 percent of a home’s energy bill comes from the loss of warm air through the chimney.
Your chimney damper is probably one of the elements of your chimney system that you’re most familiar with. After all, you have to open it each time you start a fire to prevent smoke from pouring into your home. In between fires, when the damper is closed, it serves as a barrier between the cold air outside and the warm air inside your home. Few “throat dampers” — the type of damper that sits inside your chimney’s throat, right above the firebox — form a good seal, as most are metal on metal. Over time, the fit of the damper can become even worse as it warps, rusts or becomes dislodged.
If the cold draft from your chimney is severe or seems to have become worse, it might be time for a new damper. If you’re concerned about heat loss through your chimney, you might want to consider a top-sealing damper. As the name suggests, top-sealing dampers sit at the very top of your chimney, rather than inside the flue. The dampers are outfitted with a tight rubber seal, so that when they’re closed, the prevent cold air, water, animals and debris from entering your flue.
What else can I do about chimney draft?
If your damper is in good repair, but you’re still getting a significant cold draft from your chimney, there are other fixes you can consider. One of the most common ways to reduce chimney draft is by using a chimney plug or balloon. The devices, which come in different sizes and shapes, are inserted up the chimney then inflated to prevent air exchange when the chimney is not in use. They can be easily installed and removed, allowing you to enjoy your fireplace when you want to. If a fire is accidentally lit while the balloon is in place, it will harmlessly deflate.
Installing fireplace doors also can help cut back on the draft. Being able to close fireplace doors when the fireplace is not in use can keep some of the cold air from entering and the warm air from escaping your home. Some people also take a do-it-yourself approach: You can cut a piece of insulation to fit the opening of your fireplace and cover it with upholstery to match the décor of your room.
If you’re concerned about the draft coming from your chimney, call Fluesbrothers! We can examine your damper and help you find a solution to your draft problem.