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The Hidden Hero: How a Damper Enhances Efficiency

There is something valuable hidden in the heart of every hero. When you know how a damper enhances fireplace efficiency, you realize that your chimney has a heart! You may have never seen your damper, even if you know how it opens and closes. Yet, dampers steadily increase fireplace efficiency while reducing your energy costs. There is a proviso, just as Superman is powerful as long as he isn’t weakened by kryptonite. Dampers can also be rendered ineffective. That’s where a CSIA-certified chimney sweep comes to the rescue, like those at Chimney Saver Solutions. Details follow.

throat dampers in Powhatan VAWhat is a Chimney Damper?

A chimney damper is a metal device that controls airflow in the chimney flue. When the fireplace is being used, the damper is positioned to allow combustion gases to go up and out of the chimney. Dampers are closed when embers go cold, preventing an exchange of air between the home and the outdoors. Traditional and top-sealing are the two basic types of dampers. 

Traditional Chimney Dampers

Traditional dampers are known as “throat dampers.” They are movable plates or valves hidden in the chimney just above the firebox. Various methods are used for opening and closing them, and each is named by the way it is operated. For example, there are rotary, pivot, and poker methods of operating throat dampers. It’s important to learn how your throat damper operates so that you can easily open it before starting a fire. And then the damper must be fully closed once the smoke has cleared. 

What is the Kryptonite of Throat Dampers?

Throat dampers don’t always measure up to their hero status. The metal portion that opens and closes may not form an airtight seal. This may happen because of:

  • Warping, caused by extreme heat;
  • Rust, due to moisture in the chimney flue;
  • Being off its track, caused by damage to the mechanism; or
  • Debris inside the flue causing an obstruction.

It is not safe to operate a fireplace if the damper needs repair. When throat dampers no longer open fully or close with an airtight seal, they are often replaced with top-sealing dampers. 

Top-Sealing Dampers

Top-sealing dampers control airflow in the flue from the top of the chimney. Also known as chimney cap dampers, they close off the chimney flue when closed. A top-mounted damper is a cap atop a spring-loaded door. A steel cable stretches from the damper down the length of the chimney flue. The lower end of the cable is attached to a lever, which is used to open and close the spring-loaded door of the top-sealing damper.

Heroics of Top-Sealing Dampers

Top-sealing dampers provide several benefits over and above those of throat dampers. They keep moisture out of the chimney, which is a heroic deed when you think about how moisture is a chimney’s #1 enemy. In fact, chimney cap dampers provide all the functions of chimney caps with mesh. They keep animals and debris out of the chimney flue. This can even be done when the damper is open if it is fitted with a metal cage. 

Top-sealing dampers best demonstrate how a damper enhances fireplace efficiency. A particular cost-cutting benefit of top sealing dampers has to do with the superior job it does of making an airtight seal. The reality is that throat dampers aren’t as good as their counterparts when it comes to stopping unwanted airflow from occurring. Based on the lower cost of heating after installing a top-sealing damper, it is estimated that heat loss through the chimney can be reduced by as much as 90%.

top mount dampers in Chesterfield VA

Contact the Experts for Chimney Damper Repair or Replacement

Qualified chimney sweeps best know the ins and outs of chimneys, such as how a damper enhances fireplace efficiency. Trust the experts at Chimney Saver Solutions with all your chimney service needs. From chimney inspections and masonry repair to chimney cleaning and top sealing damper installation, our dependable services mean your fireplace can be used safely and with greater peace of mind. When you get down to it, as heroism goes, dampers have nothing on our chimney sweeps.

Contact us today for help with a faulty damper and all your fireplace and chimney needs. Call 804-440-5000 or fill out our online form

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