Is Your Fireplace Increasing Your Summer Cooling Costs?
During the hot summer months, most people don’t think much about their fireplaces. They may clean them out and add some interesting pieces of art or pretty lighting inside the firebox as a decorative accent, but no fires are burning, so it’s basically out of sight, out of mind. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a fireplace may be causing their summer cooling costs to skyrocket.
A faulty damper is the culprit
The damper, which is the hinged sealing device that sits above the firebox, is a critical component within a fireplace/chimney system. When working correctly, the damper can be opened completely when the fireplace is in use, creating an open path for smoke and toxins to rise from the firebox and move through the chimney for release into the outside air.
A damaged damper may not fully open, and this can cause smoke to back up into the house. You’ll know immediately if this happens and can quickly have the necessary repairs made or have the damper replaced. Damaged dampers not only can have trouble opening completely, they also can fail to create a tight seal when closed, and that can be a costly problem during the summer.
On hot days when you’ve got your air conditioning system running high, you surely wouldn’t leave a window in the house wide open. But the same problem an open window would cause will be caused by a damper that doesn’t close tightly.
Determine the problem
It’s not uncommon for people to forget to close their fireplace dampers after the burning season is over. So the first step is to make sure your damper is, in fact, closed. If it’s closed but not closed tightly, a soot or creosote buildup may be causing the problem. You can clean this gunk away and see if you can tell whether or not the damper will close correctly.
In some cases a damper can become warped after years of close proximity to intense heat. If this has happened, the unit will have to be replaced. Additionally, there can be a problem with one or more of the parts of the damper. Sometimes a repair job can solve the issue; other times replacement is necessary.
Even if your damper is in proper condition, you may still want additional protection. This can be accomplished with what’s generally called a “chimney balloon.” These inflatable products are placed in the chimney just above the damper and inflated, creating an air-tight seal to ensure that no cool air inside the house is lost up the chimney.
If you suspect there’s a problem with your damper that’s causing you to waste cool interior air, Chimney Saver Solutions of Richmond, VA, can perform a thorough inspection of the damper and advise you on the best way to solve the problem. If a new damper is needed, we sell and install the top styles and models on the market. Give us a call at (804) 440-5000.