No chimney system lasts forever, but in older homes they are sometimes prone to a few more problems. Steel throat types or cast iron dampers can be found in many older homes. This component seals the fireplace when you are not using it, but a lot of heat reaches the damper when you do use it. After a long period this will cause the metal to warp, and it will not function as well as it used to. So here’s some information that every homeowner should know about their damper.
A damper is easy to operate. They either use a knob or lever for opening and closing. They are located in the throat of the chimney, but there is another type of damper which is located in the top section.
What Causes Damper Problems
Aside from the constant heat, chimney dampers can also be affected by the elements. Leaking chimneys can be a damper’s worst enemy. Moisture that gets inside can eventually reach this section, leading to rust. Lack of a chimney cap will also expose the damper to rain. When a damper starts to rust it will not seal properly, and you might notice that it sticks when you try to open or close it.
The main problem with this is the possibility of heat loss, which can drive up your bills. Most dampers don’t seal perfectly, but this gets worse when the metal starts to warp or rust. With an annual inspection you can know immediately if your damper has been affected by moisture.
While you can take some remedial steps like using a rust remover, a sticking damper should be check for other signs of damage. Creosote and debris falling into the chimney can cause damper problems. Bits of mortar that loosens due to spalling is another thing that can affect the efficiency of the damper.
It’s possible to handle minor sticking of the damper, and to deal with rust, but an old one that is not working properly will have to be replaced. A replacement may also be necessary if you are changing your chimney, or installing a new wood burning stove. Usually, all it takes to remove a damper is to first take out the bolts holding it in place. The mounting bracket is sometimes welded into place, and this will be more difficult to remove.
It is easy to tell if a damper is sticking, but only a professional can tell you everything you need to know about its state. Annual chimney inspections are essential, but more frequent inspections may be necessary if your chimney is very old. Both of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certified Chimney Sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service have experience working with both older and newer chimneys and dampers.
Lou Curley’s Chimney Service
We’re located in Drexel Hill and provide all types of chimney services to homeowners and commercial property owners in the surrounding areas and along the Main Line. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 if you’re interested in scheduling an appointment for a consultation, a chimney inspection, or chimney cleaning.