Fireplace Damper: Types, Parts, Designs & Common Issues

Without a fireplace damper, the efficiency of a fireplace is greatly affected.

This important component is used to retain or keep heated air from escaping from the home. It’s also opened to allow air to sustain the fire within a fireplace while also expelling or venting out combustion gases.

These brief functions highlight the importance of the fireplace damper.

Parts of A Fireplace Damper

A fireplace damper has three basic parts; the damper handle, damper plate, and the damper clamp.

The damper handle is also known as the knob and as the name implies, it’s used for easy control of damper closing and opening. It serves as a grip for better control.

The damper plate is the part of the fireplace damper that seals or opens the fireplace. Being held in place by a surround, this plate is rectangular in shape (for those located at the base or throat of the chimney).

Other shapes include square and circular.

The damper clamp holds the fireplace damper in position, especially when open.

Types Of Fireplace Dampers

There are about three types of fireplace dampers; these include flue dampers, fireplace throat dampers, and chimney cap dampers. Each damper type is ideal for specific uses as you’ll soon find out.

  • Flue Dampers

Unlike a chimney damper that needs to be closed when not in use, flue dampers can be left partially open. These valves help keep out rain, debris, and animals from getting access to your stove area through the flue.

Additional uses of the flue damper include partial closure to reduce upward draft. What more? Heat is better retained by limiting heat loss due to complete or partial flue damper closure.

The rate of combustion is also controlled in addition to putting out fires in wood-burning stoves.

  • Fireplace Throat Dampers

A fireplace throat damper is often located at the base of a flue.

Here, you’ll find it a little bit above your wood-burning stove and can be easily reachable. Its position at the base of the chimney is what gives it the throat analogy.

Is Fireplace Damper Open Or Closed?

Here, our discussion will focus on providing more information about this important fireplace component. Different aspects of its operation will be discussed.

So, we welcome you to join us as we further explore the benefits and use of the damper.

  • Old Vs New Fireplace Designs

In terms of operation, steady progress has been made as regards innovations. For old fireplace designs, the damper needed to be in one of two positions. That is, fully open or fully closed.

With such fireplace designs, it means the damper cannot be partially opened or closed.

With newer fireplace designs, greater control over how much air enters or exits the fireplace is given. In other words, users get to adjust the fireplace damper to a preferred position that supports combustion.

  • Why A Fireplace Damper Needs Adjustments

Whenever combustion occurs in a fireplace, there’s a likelihood of having backdrafts. This is a basic problem that’s solved by simply adjusting your fireplace damper.

That way, there’s an improvement in combustion.

In situations when fuels such as damp firewood or hardwoods are burnt, quite a lot of smoke is generated. We advise that you only use seasoned or dried wood for fuel as it burns more efficiently.

Now, with much smoke being produced, the natural response will be to keep the fireplace damper wide open.

There are other times when a fireplace damper will need to be partially closed to control the amount of air coming in. Adjusting the fireplace damper on windy days helps prevent big chimney fires from flaring.

Smaller or weak fires aren’t blown out too.

  • What To Do When A Fireplace Isn’t In Use

There are times when fireplaces aren’t in use. However, the need to retain heat generated by combustion is also necessary. The fireplace damper comes in handy as it helps prevent heat loss.

You’ll need to have it sealed to prevent heat escape.

There’s no longer smoke from combustion because the fire is out. As such, there’s no need to vent out combustion gases. With the fireplace damper, you get to conserve energy, thus saving up on fuel or energy costs.

Common Fireplace Damper Issues

As a valve that helps control the inflow of wind and outflow of smoke and gases, this important fireplace component must be kept functional.

However, a wide range of issues may affect its smooth functioning resulting in stuck fireplace dampers or dirty dampers.

  • Stuck Fireplace Damper

There are times when a fireplace damper gets stuck and is unable to open or close. This problem can always be attributed to dirt accumulation around the hinges of the fireplace valve.

Some good cleaning should help free up the stuck damper.

However, if the damper is still stuck in such a position, it’s best to call a chimney technician to have a look. A basic inspection should spot the problem. This is followed by some deeper and more professional cleaning and fixing.

  • Dirty Fireplace Damper

This is fireplace damper problem is closely related to stuck dampers. The only difference is that your damper might still open and close. However, there’s a greater risk posed by dirty chimneys and fireplace dampers.

Without attending to accumulated creosote and soot within a chimney, there’s likely going to be an outbreak of fire. This is more disastrous and could lead to the destruction of your property.

Not All Chimneys Have Dampers

It’s important to note that not all chimneys have fireplace dampers.

So, do these fireplaces function efficiently? The sad answer is no! Homes are likely to get very cold in winter due to fireplace damper absence.

This means that a significant amount of heat is lost as it escapes through the chimney. You’ll have to discuss with a chimney sweep possible ways to control such heat loss. The use of a chimney stove could help.

However, this isn’t expert advice as only a licensed chimney sweep can provide such information.

Fireplace dampers are important chimney components that promote combustion and air exchange. We’ve seen that not all fireplaces have this component. For those that do, it’s important to have your damper well maintained.

A yearly chimney maintenance schedule should serve this purpose.

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