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Extra Protection with a Top Sealing Damper

Extra Protection with a Top Sealing Damper - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MIKeeping moisture, debris, and animals out of your chimney is the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your fireplace system. Many homeowners, however, worry that their chimney caps are not doing enough to protect their fireplace systems.

One of the most recent innovations in the fireplace industry – the top sealing damper – was designed as a way to provide extra protection to your chimney system. Not only can top sealing dampers protect your chimney as well as if not better than a chimney cap, but they can also help save money by improving the efficiency of your fireplace system.

What makes top sealing dampers different?

Most homes have fireplaces with throat dampers. Throat dampers are located at the top of the firebox and separate the firebox from the rest of the flue. While the throat damper seals off the firebox, the rest of the chimney is left exposed. Because of this, chimney caps are needed to protect the top of the flue from animals, water, and debris.

Top sealing dampers, however, are able to seal off the entire chimney structure from the outside, not just the firebox. Located at the top of the flue, when closed top sealing dampers prevent animals, debris, and moisture from getting into the fireplace system. Unlike chimney caps, whose mesh sides can be damaged or pulled away by animals seeking entrance, the seal created by top sealing dampers is nearly impossible to break.

Top sealing dampers and efficiency

In addition to protecting your fireplace, top sealing dampers are also popular because of the energy savings they can provide. Because traditional throat dampers leave the chimney structure open to the outside, the air temperature in the chimney can fluctuate based on outside temperature. This can affect the air temperature is surrounding rooms, causing your HVAC system to have to work harder to keep a consistent indoor air temperature.

Because top sealing dampers close off the entire chimney system, the air temperature in the chimney remains more consistent. This, in turn, keeps your thermostat from running due to reaction to air temperature changes, saving you money on utilities.

How to use a top sealing damper


This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.

Just like a traditional throat damper, top sealing dampers must be opened when the fireplace is in use to prevent smoke and gasses like carbon monoxide from building up in your home. To use a top sealing damper, a lever or pulley in the firebox is used to open the damper before fireplace use. Once the fire is completely extinguished, the damper can be safely closed.

Some homeowners worry that top sealing dampers leave their chimney exposed when they are open. However, because top sealing dampers should only be opened when the fireplace is in use, the rising smoke and hot air act as a natural deterrent to animals such as birds and small mammals. Likewise, many top sealing dampers are designed to keep large animals such as raccoons out even when open.

Even if your home as a well-sealed throat damper, a top sealing damper can provide an additional layer of protection. Contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today to learn how a top sealing damper can protect your chimney and help save you money!

Close Your Fireplace and Chimney for the Season

Close Your Fireplace for the Summer - Ann Arbor, MI - Clean Sweeps of MichiganWith summer just a few short weeks away, most families are done using their fireplaces until the fall. Because of this, now is the perfect time to close up your chimney and fireplace for the season!

Rather than simply no longer using your fireplace, there are four easy steps to make sure that when you stop using your fireplace for the season it will be ready for use again in the spring.

1. Clean the fireplace

The first – and most obvious – step to closing your fireplace for the season is cleaning it. Homeowners can do part of the chimney cleaning themselves by removing any leftover ash or soot from the firebox. Avoid using a vacuum when cleaning the firebox as it may cause fine particulate ash to go airborne, coating interior furnishings and leaving your home dirties instead of cleaner! Even vacuums with HEPA filters often cannot adequately contain the mess created when vacuuming ash.

In addition to removing any fire remnants in the firebox, a thorough chimney sweeping should be performed. A professional chimney sweep can access and clean even the most hard to reach areas of your fireplace, ensuring that your chimney will be clean and ready for fires in the fall.

2. Have the chimney inspected

In addition to a chimney sweeping, an annual chimney inspection is also recommended in the spring. A chimney inspection is an important part of regular chimney maintenance and is an excellent way to make sure your chimney has not been damaged or deteriorated over the past year. In addition, chimney inspections are good preventative maintenance; small problems or defects can be easily repaired before your chimney system is damaged.

3. Tightly close the damper

While the damper should be closed every time the fireplace is not in use, this is especially important to do in the spring before closing the fireplace and chimney for the season. Left open, the damper can cause significant energy loss as cooled air from inside your home slowly leaks out, letting warm air from outside in to replace it. For additional energy savings, glass doors can be installed as an additional measure to seal cool air in and warm air out.

Gas fireplace owners do not need to worry about closing their dampers – the damper of a gas fireplace should always remain open, regardless of whether or not the fireplace is in use.

4. Turn off the pilot light

If you have a gas fireplace that you are not planning on using for a long period of time, turning off the pilot light is one way to help save energy. Because it stays lit the entire time the unit is connected, the pilot light continually uses energy to burn, costing you money. Turning off the pilot light is safe as long as you know you will not be using your fireplace while it is off.

By taking the time to close your fireplace and chimney for the season, you can relax and enjoy your summer without fall chimney maintenance looming over your head. Call Clean Sweeps of Michigan today to schedule an appointment to help close your fireplace and chimney system for the season!

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