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All About Dampers

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While it may just seem like something you open and close when using the fireplace, the damper actually serves an important role in the safety and efficiency of your fireplace system.

All about Dampers - West Hampton NY - Guaranteed Chimney Service



What is a damper?

A damper is a piece of metal that is typically located in the throat of the chimney. The damper is designed to seal off the fireplace from the rest of the chimney structure when it is not in use. This helps keep unconditioned air out of your home, saving you money and reducing heating and cooling costs.

There are two main types of dampers: the traditional throat damper and the newer top sealing damper.

Throat dampers

The majority of homes have throat dampers. Located at the top of the firebox, a traditional throat damper seals the firebox off from the chimney but leaves the flue and chimney open to outside air. Throat dampers still protect your home against downdrafts, changes in temperature, and animal and water entry. However, homes with throat dampers also need to have a chimney cap at the top of the chimney in order to protect the top of the flue.

Top sealing dampers

Top sealing dampers are located at the top of the flue where a chimney cap would traditionally be. When closed, the top sealing damper closes the entire chimney shaft off from outside air. By sealing off the entire chimney from outside air, top sealing dampers can reduce the heating and cooling costs associated with temperature changes in rooms that surround the chimney structure.

Because of their location, homes with top sealing dampers do not need to have chimney caps. When closed, the top sealing damper prevents animals, moisture, and debris from falling into the chimney; because the damper is only opened when the fireplace is in use, the venting hot air and gasses continue to keep animals and debris from getting in.

Signs your damper needs to be repaired

Dampers can become damaged after years of use. If this occurs, it is important to have your damper repaired or replaced as needed. Below are some of the signs your damper may be damaged.

  • Broken lever or pulley: The level or pulley is what allows the damper to be opened and closed. If it stops working, the damper is stuck open, closed, or somewhere in between.
  • Rust on the damper: Rust on the damper is a sign that at some point you had – or are continuing to have – a chimney leak. Rusting dampers can be replaced, but the source of the chimney leak should be repaired to prevent rust from reoccurring.
  • Loss of airtight seal: When closed, the damper should form a nearly airtight seal between the firebox and the rest of the chimney. However, long term exposure to heat from the fireplace can cause the damper to become warped and lose its seal.

    The damper is an important part of your fireplace system and should be cared for and maintained along with the rest of your chimney. For more information about damper maintenance or to schedule a chimney inspection to check the condition of your damper, contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today!