The Critical Jobs of a Chimney Damper
It won’t be long before these warm summer days end and chilly autumn weather arrives. Before the temperature drops, it’s wise to schedule a chimney cleaning and inspection to ensure your fireplace is ready for another burning season. The chimney’s damper is a critical component to have checked out.
What is a Damper?
A fireplace damper typically sits in the throat of the chimney, just above the firebox. There are also top-sealing dampers that are installed over the mouth of the chimney. Both types act as a vent, facilitating airflow when it’s open and sealing off the chimney when it’s closed. A damper has four essential jobs:
The damper should always be open when the fire is burning so that air from outside can travel down the chimney to feed the flames. Fire needs a sufficient amount of oxygen to burn long and hot.
Another essential role it plays is allowing smoke and carbon monoxide to escape outside when it’s open. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas that’s produced by fire along with smoke. Breathing it in can be deadly for humans and pets.
When the damper is closed, it prevents drafts from blowing down the chimney. It also prevents your HV/AC system from working overtime by stopping air-conditioned and heated air from escaping.
Bats, rodents, & other critters are attracted to chimneys. Hopefully, your home has a chimney cap to prevent them from getting inside. However, a missing or damaged chimney cap, the damper is the last line of defense to stop pests from getting into your home.
There is Something Wrong With the Damper
A properly functioning damper can open and close easily. It also seals completely when closed so that no air or animals can slip through. Unfortunately, dampers often get rusted by moisture or warped from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Creosote buildup on your fireplace damper can also corrode it or prevent it from sealing shut.
Since it isn’t easy to see a fireplace damper, damage often goes unnoticed by homeowners. Frequently, we discover busted dampers during our chimney inspections. However, you don’t have to be a professional chimney sweep to spot the warning signs that your chimney damper needs some TLC.
Signs of a Damaged Damper
Be on the lookout for any of these warning signs:
- The damper is stuck open or closed
- Smoke backups in the room when you use your fireplace
- You can feel drafts around the chimney (or an increase in your energy costs)
- The damper is noisy when you open or close it
- The firebox is damp or has pieces of debris in it
- You’ve noticed signs of small animals or seen them in your home
If you notice even one of these, call in a certified chimney expert from Burlington Fireplace to check out your chimney damper!
Your fireplace damper plays a vital role in improving your home’s energy efficiency, protecting you from carbon monoxide poisoning, and keeping out critters. That’s why it is a critical component that we check out when we clean and inspect chimneys. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, it’s wise to schedule a chimney inspection to get your damper or other chimney repairs taken care of before using your fireplace. You can count on the NFI Certified Chimney Technicians on our team at Burlington Fireplace to skillfully repair or replace your damper if it’s damaged.