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All About Energy Top Dampers

Many homeowners mistakenly believe there is only one way to make your fireplace more efficient – replacing it. However, there are several other small changes that can be made to make you’re existing more fireplace more efficient.

One way to improve fireplace efficiency is to install a top-sealing damper. Easy to install and easy to use, top-sealing dampers can immediately improve the efficiency of your fireplace – and evenTwo chimneys with smoke escaping one help reduce heating and cooling costs in your home.

What is a top-sealing damper?

Most chimney systems have a traditional throat damper, located at the top of the firebox; throat dampers seal off the chimney from the fireplace but leave the flue open to the outside air. Top sealing dampers, however, are located at the top of the chimney structure. When closed, they seal the entirety of the fireplace and flue off from the outside.

When the entirety of the flue is sealed from the outside, there is minimal risk of animals, debris, or water getting into the chimney. Likewise, the temperature within the flue stays more constant and is not subject to fluctuations in outside air temperature; in addition to making it easier to start a fire, keeping a consistent air temperature in the flue can help reduce heating and cooling costs.

Do I still need a chimney cap?

Because top-sealing dampers are installed on the top of the chimney structure, they can be used in place of a chimney cap. When closed, top-sealing dampers keep out water, animals, and debris; because they form an airtight seal, there is little chance of even the most motivated raccoon gnawing its way into the chimney.

Similar to a traditional throat damper, top-sealing dampers should always be opened whenever the fireplace is in use. Opening the damper before starting the fire, while it is burning, and while it is naturally extinguishing prevents smoke and other dangerous gasses including carbon monoxide from blowing or backing up into the home.

How is a top-sealing damper more efficient?

While the airtight seal of a top-sealing damper might prevent water, animals, and debris, how is it more efficient? The answer lies in keeping a consistent air temperature within the flue. A top-sealing damper itself will not make your fireplace burn more efficiently, but it can help reduce heating and cooling costs in your home.

Top sealing dampers seal off the entirety of the flue from outside air; this means that whether it is extremely hot or extremely cold outside, the air inside the flue is not affected by temperature changes. Rooms next to the chimney often experience spikes or dips in temperature in relation to temperature fluctuations outside. Sealing off the flue keeps these rooms at a more consistent temperature, which can help reduce the utility costs associated with heating and air conditioning.

A top-sealing damper is an easy, energy-efficient upgrade for your fireplace that can reduce animal entry, help prevent chimney leaks, and lower your monthly utilities! For more information on adding a top-sealing damper to your chimney system, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

What To Do If You Have A Chimney Fire

After a chimney fire, most homeowners are left with a lot of questions about the state of their chimney system: when will I be able to use my fireplace again? Will I have to have the entire chimney torn down? Is it even safe for us to stay in the house? A CSIA certified chimney sweep should always be the first person you call after a chimney fire.

In addition to answering any questions you have about the state of your chimney, they can also identify the damage the fire has caused and the necessary repairs you need. At Clean Sweeps of Michigan, we are the team to call if you have experienced a chimney fire in your home.

What are the signs of a chimney fire?

a house on fireChimney fires can be so small that they often go unnoticed. Sometimes, they can be large enough to spread to another part of your house. Whether there were flames spewing from the top of the chimney or unusual popping sounds when the fireplace is in use, the following are signs that you may have experienced a chimney fire.

  • Puffy creosote in the flue
  • Warped metal components such as the damper, smoke chamber connector pipe, or factory-built chimney pipe
  • Collapsing, cracked, or missing flue tiles
  • A distorted or discolored chimney cap
  • Fire or smoke damage to the roof surrounding the chimney
  • Pieces of creosote on the roof
  • Cracks to the exterior masonry
  • Signs of smoke escaping through the mortar joints of the masonry

Can my chimney be repaired after a chimney fire?

Each chimney fire causes unique damage. There is often not a single, simple solution for how to repair the chimney after a fire. An inspection by a certified chimney sweep is the most effective way to evaluate the damage caused by a chimney fire. Some common repairs after a chimney fire include:

  • Chimney sweeping and removal of remaining creosote
  • Repairing or replacing damaged flue tiles
  • Relining the flue
  • Repairing interior or exterior masonry
  • Rebuilding part or all of the chimney

How do I prevent a chimney fire?

The best way to prevent a chimney fire from occurring is by having regular chimney sweepings. In addition to removing soot and ash, chimney sweeping removes creosote. Creosote is highly flammable, as it is a byproduct of combustion. It can easily ignite from stray sparks or embers and is often the cause of chimney fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends homeowners have at least one chimney sweeping per year.

In addition to annual chimney sweepings, how you use your fireplace can also help to lower the risk of a chimney fire. Seasoned hardwoods should be used for firewood, as they burn most efficiently and produce the least amount of smoke and creosote. Softwoods such as pine may be fragrant, but they create more creosote than woods like ash or maple.

After a chimney fire, a certified chimney sweep is the best resource for answering questions and evaluating the condition of your fireplace and chimney. If you think you have experienced a chimney fire, contact the experts at Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!

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