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Keep The Cold Out With A Chimney Damper

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The damper is an important part of the anatomy of the chimney. While most of us know that it must be open when the fireplace is in use, few homeowners understand the importance and purpose of this part of the chimney system.

What is a damper?Keep the cold out with a functioning chimney damper

The chimney damper is the metal barrier between the firebox and the rest of the chimney structure. The damper sits at the top of the firebox and is opened when the fireplace is in use using a lever, chain, or pulley. Dampers are designed to prevent smoke and gas from backing up into the home when the fireplace is in use and the damper is open, while also keeping moisture and unconditioned air out of the home when the damper is closed.

Two types of dampers

There are two types of dampers that are used in fireplaces in homes: throat dampers and top sealing dampers.

– Throat damper: Throat dampers are a traditional part of fireplace structure; they sit between the firebox and the flue and are opened when the fireplace is in use. Chimneys with throat dampers also require a chimney cap, or the metal hood that covers and protects the top of the flue.

– Top sealing damper: Top sealing dampers are a relatively new fireplace innovation and are beginning to be installed in more homes. These dampers are installed on the top of the flue, replacing the chimney cap; just like a throat damper, the top sealing damper is opened and closed when the fireplace is in use to allow gas and smoke to draft. Top sealing dampers are useful in helping to reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs as the entire chimney are sealed from outside air.

Is my damper damaged?

Dampers are made of metal and designed to be extremely sturdy; despite this, they can become damaged from years of use or overexposure to heat or moisture. The following are three signs your damper may be damaged.

– Broken lever. A broken pulley or lever is the most common sign of damper damage. If the lever breaks while the damper is open, it can allow animals, debris, and cold air into your fireplace at all times; if it breaks when closed, it can prevent you from using your fireplace entirely.
– Loss of airtight seal. When closed, the damper should create an airtight seal between the flue and the firebox. If you can hear or feel air coming through the closed damper it may need to be replaced; this can happen from overexposure to heat or from being bent or twisted when forced open or closed.
– Rust. Rust can occur when water from a chimney leak has pooled on a damper. Rust on a chimney damper should be addressed in two ways; first, the source of the chimney leak should be identified and repaired. Second, the damaged damper should be removed and replaced.

Keep the cold out this winter!

A functioning damper can protect your fireplace and keep cold air out of your home this winter. For more information on installing a new top sealing damper or to have your damper inspected for signs of damage, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today!