Your fireplace and chimney system has many components that work together to help you stay warm and comfortable, and provide added safety. You don’t need to be an expert on these components; that’s what we’re here for. However, you may want to know more about how this system works and why the different components are important. If, for example we tell you that the damper needs to be replaced, you may want to know why.
What is the Damper?
This is a relatively simple device located inside the throat of the chimney. It is positioned right over the firebox, and its only function is to seal the fireplace when you are not using it or to open it to allow smoke and gases to escape when it is in use. The chimney is can be viewed as a hole in the ceiling that allows heat to escape even when you don’t have a fire lit.
When you use the heat pump or central heating in your home, the damper must be sealed to prevent heat from escaping through the hole in the ceiling. If it is not sealed, it can drive up your heating bill, so the damper is actually meant to keep the heat in and save you money. Once it is sealed, no heat will escape. There are also chimney top dampers which are similar to chimney caps. They are just as efficient at keeping the heat in your home where you want it.
I have a good story about a client whose mother lives in north Florida. His siblings had purchased a gas fireplace for their mother because she chills easily in the winter months. They installed it in an existing fireplace with a working chimney. They failed to close the damper, so her air conditioner had to work overtime to keep the house cool during the summer. No one could figure out why her power bill was so much more expensive – until our Philly-area friend visited and discovered the damper was completely open. Her power bill decreased by more than $30 every month after he closed the damper.
Even though they can last for a long time, they can develop problems. They can be affected by heat from the fire and rain that comes down the chimney. Sometimes dampers can get stuck, making it difficult to open and close. Using a chimney cap serves to stop rain water from coming down the chimney and causing the damper to rust.
Replacing the Damper
Once the damper starts to warp or get rusty, it will have to be replaced. Otherwise, it will not be as effective at preventing heat loss. When we inspect and maintain your chimney, we will get to know your system inside out. If you need a new damper, we will know the right size, so you will not have to waste your time looking for a replacement.
If you have questions about how your damper works or how it is functioning, give us a call. We can talk to you about getting a better one, and how you can take care on the one you currently have. We can even help you to find the best damper based on the size of your fireplace. By talking to us, you will learn all you need to know about the other important components of your chimney.