Many homeowners who have and enjoy a beautiful fireplace during these arctic winters actually lose money every year on energy costs because of their chimney damper. In fact, experts say that 8% of the heating costs for the average home can be accounted for as heat lost through the chimney. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Your chimney damper should, of course, be closed when the fireplace is not in use. When the damper is open, it is about the same as opening a window and allowing your heated or cooled air to escape to the outdoors. Even when a fireplace damper is new, however, it is rarely tightly sealed. Dampers are made with steel or cast-iron, and the metal-to-metal seal typically does a poor job of preventing air from passing through. If there is no chimney cap or if moisture in some other way makes its way into your chimney, the dampers can become rusted or corroded, which makes them even less effective at creating a seal.
A Damper Test
As a potentially cost-saving measure, it’s a good idea to do a simple test in order to determine how much air may be lost up your chimney. Carefully light a match or hold up burning incense next to the damper opening. Then blow out the match or incense and watch to see where the smoke trail goes. If the smoke goes up your chimney, then you will have significant amount of heat loss through your chimney. Another indication of a problem is if the trail of smoke blows into the room, because it is a sign that drafts are coming into your home from the chimney.
Another damper test is to put a dollar bill between the damper plate and the damper as you close it. Next, tug on the dollar bill. If it slides out easily, you have a leaky damper. Do the test all the way across the damper, since it may be leaky in one spot but not another.
Solution: Install a Top-Mounting Damper
To seal off your chimney effectively, install a top-mounting damper. These appliances have special seals which prevent air leakage. In fact, these dampers do such a good job, they have been described as revolutionary products. They prevent the loss of heated or air-conditioned air from your home and they also prevent outdoor temperatures from invading your home through the chimney. During the life of a top-mounting damper, the cost is paid for many times over.
It is simple to open and close a top-mounting damper from your fireplace. A stainless steel cable runs down the length of the flue and through a bracket, which is attached in the fireplace. Simply pull down on the cable handle, put it in the open position, and release it to open the top damper. Closing it also requires pulling down on the handle and securing it in the desired position.
For help repairing a damaged damper or to get a top-sealing damper, contact our chimney professionals today.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110