Chimney dampers either open your chimney to or seal your chimney from the outside elements. They serve as a sort of “gateway” between your home and the outdoors. When your fireplace is in use, an open chimney damper ensures a proper draft and the ventilation of smoke. However, when your fireplace is not in use, it is important that your chimney damper seals properly in order to keep heating and air conditioning from leaving the house. This blog explores the different types of chimney dampers. That way, you can choose the right damper to protect you from unwanted drafts and “sky-high” heating and cooling bills.

Dampers are either located at the top of the chimney or at the throat just above the firebox. Traditional masonry fireplaces typically have a cast iron throat damper. However, these traditional cast iron dampers do not make for great sealers. The metal of the damper on the metal of the frame allows some air to flow to and from the house. This problem only gets worse after several years of corrosion. There are a few kinds of aftermarket chimney dampers that can supplement a traditional cast iron damper and effectively seal the home from unwanted airflow.

Chimney Top Damper

Top mount chimney dampers are located at the top of the chimney. These dampers serve as both a protective chimney cap and an energy-saving sealer. They consist of a metal cap or gate that opens and closes by means of a steel cable and lever inside the fireplace. These dampers usually have silicone rubber gaskets to provide leak-proof seals and metal mesh guards to prevent animal entrance. These dampers are durable and provide a seal for the entire chimney flue. However, their metal components may experience some weathering over time, and they can sometimes slightly restrict the flue, preventing a proper draft. In addition, top mount dampers can be somewhat more expensive than other types of dampers and can be more difficult to install.

Throat Dampers

Throat dampers are installed at the lower end of the chimney flue — either below or above the original damper. These dampers consist of inflatable seals that fill up like a balloon to plug the flue and deflate when the flue needs to be open. Inflatable throat dampers are typically less expensive and easier to install than top mount dampers. They come in many sizes and are easily “adjustable” to different flues. They are also very easy to use. However, throat dampers do not prevent animals, leaves and other unwanted outdoor souvenirs from entering the flue. Furthermore, inflatable dampers can be punctured or easily forgotten about when starting a fire.

Seals for Metal Fireboxes

As opposed to built-in masonry fireplaces, pre-fabricated metal fireplaces have front vents and flue pipes with flapper valves for opening and closing. However, especially over time, these valves do not always seal perfectly well. Additionally, the front vents can sometimes allow unwanted airflow. The solution for these metal fireplace problems is magnetic covers for both the vents and the valves.

There are different advantages to each type of damper and choosing the right one for your home depends upon your specific needs and preferences. Whichever damper you choose, professional installation will ensure that you successfully seal your flue and your home. Don’t hesitate to contact your friendly neighborhood Chimney & Masonry Outfitter for any assistance in selecting and installing the perfect damper for your fireplace.