If you’ve ever filled your house with smoke just after starting a roaring fire, then you’ve probably wondered how a fireplace damper works. Unfortunately, a house full of smoke is a common signal that the damper has not been properly adjusted for fireplace use.

What is a fireplace damper?

Think of a chimney damper like a lid for your fireplace.  It is located in the flue, which is the air shaft through which smoke and air can travel in and out of your chimney, and is located above the firebox where the fire is made, and is in use both when fireplace is active and inactive.  We commonly think of chimneys as avenues for smoke to escape from your home, but they are also a way for air to come in.  Knowing exactly what your chimney damper is, what it does, and how to control it will ensure better, safer, and more enjoyable fireside chats.

Inactive Fireplace

As mentioned, when your fireplace isn’t in use, your chimney damper still has a job to do. When there’s no fire, keeping the fireplace damper shut tight prevents cold outside air from entering the house. This helps create energy efficiency. An open chimney damper will allow air into your home, so if it’s a cold night and you just can’t seem to warm up, make sure that your chimney damper is closed.  A closed chimney damper will prevent unwanted air of any temperature from making its way into your home.

Active Fireplace

When the fireplace is in use, an open fireplace damper prevents smoke from filling up your home by giving it a way out through the flue. When starting a fire in your fireplace, making sure that your chimney damper is open is imperative to a healthy burn.  Health risks associated with smoke inhalation are very serious, and you should never have to worry about putting your family in danger when building a fire.  An open chimney damper will filter smoke out and keep the air in your home breathable and free of harm.

If you alter the amount that the damper is actually opened or closed, you limit the amount of oxygen that can enter the flue and interact with the fire. In addition to a fuel like gas or wood, oxygen is a crucial element to maintaining a fire. So, knowing how to control your damper will give you a huge degree of control over your flames that you may have overlooked until now.

Where is a fireplace damper located?

The damper is located inside the flue.

Fireplaces are constructed fairly simply. The firebox, where the fire is actually burned, is located inside a room of the house, is surrounded by brick, marble, or is sometimes freestanding like a wood stove. The chimney houses the flue, which is the airway in which the smoke rises from the fireplace and exits through the roof. Conversely, outside air can enter through the flue into the firebox.

Sticking to these guidelines and knowing when and how to use your chimney damper will not only ensure a more enjoyable fireside experience, but knowing how it’s supposed to function can tell you if there are any problems with your chimney that need attention.

Thinking you might need a set of professional eyes on your chimney and fireplace this winter? Call or visit our website us to schedule an assessment so you can keep your home warm all winter long!