Have you ever wondered about how to work your fireplace flue? In what situations should it be open? When should it be closed? Are there any ramifications to having it open or closed at the wrong times? Find answers here, plus some useful tips.

What’s a Fireplace Flue?

A fireplace flue is the metal ductwork, brick chimney stack, or ceramic piping that runs from the firebox up and outside to the chimney’s top. It expels gas and debris from the fireplace out into the open air.

When there’s a significant difference between the temperatures inside and outside, it creates a stacking effect. The exhaust ashes and gas are lighter than the outside cold air, and the flue draws them up and out of the house. The flue also lets in fresh air, which helps to fuel the fire.

When Should the Flue Be Open?

Attached to the indoor fireplace end of the flue is a damper operated by a lever. The damper can be closed or open. The damper should always be open when a fire is burning in the fireplace. If a fire is lit and the damper is closed, the gas and debris have nowhere to go but into the house, causing a smoky situation. You can experiment with just how open you want the damper to be, but it must be open to some degree when the fireplace is in use.

When Can the Flue Be Closed?

You can close the damper when there’s no fire in the fireplace. This will keep cold air from coming in, and you can more effectively manage the temperature in your home.

What if the Damper is Open, But You Still Have Smoke Coming In?

You likely have a blockage higher up, possibly creosote buildup, or a small animal, in which case you should call a professional. 

What If the Damper Gets Stuck?

The damper can get jammed in a closed position due to rust or soot buildup. When this happens, you can use a wire brush and scrub vigorously. Make sure you’re wearing safety goggles and old clothes.

Indianapolis Fireplace Maintenance and Repairs

If ever you’re in doubt about how to address problems with your flue or damper, don’t hesitate to contact Brick + Ember Outfitters of Indianapolis at 317-500-1250. Or make an appointment right from our website. We’re happy to answer all of your questions about your fireplace and help you with any fireplace maintenance or repair needs. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today.