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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!

Common Replacements for Chimney Parts

It's time to fix your chimney up. Start by replacing those parts that have not been working the way they should and those that poses a threat to your family's safety.

It’s time to fix your chimney up. Start by replacing those parts that have not been working the way they should and those that poses a threat to your family’s safety.

Your chimney system is comprised of numerous parts, all of which are inspected by a chimney professional during your yearly chimney inspection and sweeping. To prevent major chimney system repairs, it is of paramount importance to make minor repairs as soon as problems arise. Some parts are in the line of fire more than others and are adversely affected by the heat, while other parts are exposed to the elements, thereby causing them to wear out faster. Either way, these parts need to be replaced at one point or another. Keep reading to get a better understanding of some of the more common chimney repairs that our technicians encounter.

Help—My Mortar Joints are Crumbling

The mortar used in the construction of your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside. This greatly speeds up the weathering process. As such, it is common for it to begin to crumble and fall away, leaving open areas between the bricks, which only exposes even more to these weathering agents. As you might guess, this leads to even more issues. The process for repairing your damaged mortar is known as repointing. During this process, the damaged, old and loose mortar on your chimney is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar or masonry repair caulk. Only a skilled professional should repoint a chimney, as the work requires an experienced hand.

Caps Aren’t just for Baseball

The basic job of a chimney cap is to cover the chimney’s opening in an effort to keep water, birds and other wildlife, leaves, twigs and other debris from getting into your chimney and/or house. Water is directed away from the center and off the sides of your chimney. Birds, other wildlife, leaves, twigs and other debris are blocked from getting to your chimney via the mesh screening on the side, thereby preventing it from becoming a giant trash can. If any of these things were to get into your chimney, they could damage the chimney and cause more problems for you down the road. On the other hand, keeping them all out can increase the lifetime of your chimney liner. Deciding to purchase a chimney cap and have it installed by a professional chimney technician is a choice you won’t soon regret.

Chimney Flashing is Nothing to Overlook

Chimneys are notorious for leaking, and the culprit is almost always the flashing, which lies at the point where the chimney rises above the roof. It keeps water out of the chimney, protecting both the flue and roof. Flashings are made from a variety of materials (e.g., aluminum, copper, galvanized steel, and/or tin). You’ll want to have new chimney flashing installed is it’s missing, rusted through, falling out or completely covered with roofing tar (a common short-term fix that’s sure to be hiding bigger problems). Many homeowners also opt to have new flashing installed when having new shingles put on because they want it to last as long as the new roofing (anywhere from 25-40 years).

Keeping Warm Air in and Cold Air Out

The main purpose of a damper is to seal the chimney airtight when it’s not in use. Heat rises, and if the chimney isn’t sealed when the fireplace isn’t in use, all of the heat in the house goes up the chimney. Liken this to leaving your door open in the middle of winter. You wouldn’t do that, so why settle for a damper that doesn’t seal properly. There are two different types of dampers: top sealing and throat mount. Each type has its pros and cons; in a perfect world, you’d have one of each installed, as this would provide you with the best overall performance. Dampers are one part of your chimney that you shouldn’t leave to function inadequately.

Ushering those Harmful Gases out of your Home

According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, because it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home. If your current liner was installed improperly or is deteriorating, it is highly recommended that you either have a new one installed by a licensed professional or, if possible, have your current liner repaired. There are several different relining options (clay, stainless steel, and cast-in place liners), depending on both the type of flue liner you currently have and the overall condition of your entire flue. Because of the critical job completed by your chimney liner, it is a critical part. Every chimney needs a working liner.

As you can see, a chimney technician’s job is far more labor intensive that one might think. Chimney systems are comprised of many parts that depend upon one another to function at peak levels. A problem with one part of the system can cause another part of the system to have to work harder to pick up the slack, thereby causing that overworked component to wear out at a much quicker rate. This can become a vicious cycle rather quickly if the initial problem isn’t addressed in a timely manner. The moral of the story: repair minor problems as soon as possible so as to prevent them from becoming major problems down the road.

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