How to Control a Fireplace Damper
When the weather turns cold, pillows of smoke billowing from the chimney tops can be seen as homeowners enjoy the warmth of a crackling fire. And while many homeowners know to open the damper when they start the fire. Many don’t know how to use the fireplace damper to control the fire.
Fireplace damper position
One of the functions of the damper is to help start a fire in your fireplace. For a fire to ignite, it needs oxygen. By opening the fireplace damper, you’ll be allowing air to get in the chimney so that the fire can start. With the damper open, the fire will continue to build, and allow smoke, soot and other contaminants to vent through the chimney.
But leaving the damper fully open while the fire is burning also allows the heated air to escape causing your fireplace to operate less efficiently. You might even find the room not as warm as you would prefer. The burn rate increases too requiring more wood to fuel the fire.
However, partially closing the damper will reduce the oxygen level in the chimney. This will reduce the burn rate resulting in a longer fire. It will also create a downdraft that will force the heated air back into the fireplace, thus increasing its efficiency. And your space will feel warmer too without having to wear a sweater.
When should the damper be kept open or closed?
The fireplace damper should always be in the open position whenever you have a fire in the fireplace. Never close the damper or leave the fireplace unattended while there is a fire in the fireplace. This is not only a fire hazard, it can also cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Close the damper when the fire is extinguished. This will prevent the heated air from escaping through the chimney and will keep water and other debris out of the flue.
How to use the fireplace damper to control the fire
1. Open the fireplace damper all the way when starting a fire.
2. Let the fire burn for a few minutes then adjust the damper so that it is partially closed (about half way) to see how it affects the fire.
3. Monitor the fire and if it’s still blazing, close the damper a little more (about two-thirds). This should reduce the intensity and increase the efficiency.
Moisture, rodents, and other debris that get into the flue can cause serious damage to the chimney interior and rust metal components including the damper. The high intensity of heat can also cause the damper to warp over time. These conditions can make it difficult or impossible to control the damper. If you are having difficulty opening, closing or controlling the fireplace damper, give us a call to schedule a certified chimney sweep to repair or replace the damper. We’ll even show you how to control the damper, so you can master the perfect fire in your fireplace, safely and efficiently.