People rarely use their chimneys in the summer, so most of them do not even give these structures much attention. This is the time for maintenance, and it is also when you would close off the chimney. Some people make the mistake of leaving the chimney dampers open throughout the summer, possibly because they are not sure how to close them.
What is the Chimney Damper?
This is also called the ‘throat damper’ due to its location inside the chimney. It sits right above the firebox, separating it from the rest of the chimney system. When you are using the fireplace, you can operate the damper using a lever to open or close it. A properly installed damper should be able to prevent a draft when it is sealed.
Why Close it?
In the summer, when you are not using the chimney, it acts as another source of air flow in the home. If the cooling system is operating, some of the cool air can escape through the chimney. This will force the equipment to work harder, driving up your electricity costs. Air will also escape if the damper is damaged, rusted or warped for some reason. Some older dampers do not seal tightly when they are closed, so a small amount of cool air can escape. Installing a top sealing damper is one way to cut air loss, and protect your chimney. When it is open, it functions as a chimney cap, keeping out debris. It has a rubber seal that closes tightly, so there is no chance of air escaping.
People sometimes get the wrong information about dampers, leading them to believe that it is better to open them in summer. Chimneys sometimes develop bad smells, so some think that opening the damper will help to force out the odors. Actually, the open damper might be the cause of the smells, since it allows water to get inside and soak the creosote. This is known to cause chimney odors. Another thing to note is that an open damper does not make the home cooler just because warm air travels upward.
Any draft coming from outside can lower the efficiency of your air conditioning. Having a chimney cap is no reason to think that you can leave the damper open in warmer months. Caps are not meant to protect against drafts, and if there is damage to the cap, small animals may get inside the chimney. With the damper sealed, there is no way for them to get inside the home.
With regular chimney inspections, you will not only have a clean chimney, you will also know if there are problems with the damper. This is why chimney maintenance should a regular part of your spring cleaning activities. Call us at 610-626-2439 for an appointment for a consultation.