How to Cut Energy Costs with Chimney Dampers
The coldest day so far this century has been recorded in numerous places in the U.S. here in early January; and there is a lot of winter still ahead of us. It’s a great time to warm up to a roaring fire, but it’s not such a great time to open the monthly energy bill. The cost to heat your home rises annually; and it doesn’t help that chimney dampers often don’t seal well, causing heated or air-conditioned air to escape through the chimney or allowing downdrafts to introduce the outside temperatures into your home. Heat that is lost through the chimney accounts for 8% of the average homeowner’s heating costs in winter, and the damper has a lot to do with that statistic.
When your fireplace is not in use, the chimney damper is supposed to be closed. If it is left open, it’s no different from leaving a window open and allowing your heated or cooled air to escape to the outdoors. Dampers often do a poor job of preventing the passage of air. They are made with cast-iron or steel; and when the damper doors close, there just isn’t usually a good seal. If moisture has gotten into your chimney, your damper could be corroded or rusted, which makes for an even less effective seal.
Test your Damper
There are a couple of ways that you can test the effectiveness of the seal on your damper. One way is to hold up burning incense or a match next to the damper where the seal is. Blow out the match or incense and watch where the trail of smoke goes. You have a leaky damper if:
- The smoke goes up your chimney
- The smoke is blown into the room, which means that downdrafts of wind from outside are entering your home through the chimney.
You can also use a dollar bill to test your damper. Place the bill between the damper and the damper plate as you close it. Give the dollar bill a small tug; and if it easily slides out, you have a leaky damper.
Top-mounting dampers are revolutionary products which do an exceptional job of preventing air from passing through. These money-saving products stop outside air from getting into your chimney and leaking into your home. They also prevent air from the home from escaping. With a top-mounting damper, your chimney can be as tightly sealed as a closed double-paned window. The cost of the appliance is paid for many times over with lowered energy bills.
Opening and closing a top-mounted damper is simple. A stainless steel cable runs down the length of the flue and through a bracket, which is attached in the fireplace. 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.
Contact our chimney professionals today for help repairing a damaged damper or to have a top-sealing damper installed.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110