A damper is a crucial component of every chimney and is necessary for creating an energy-efficient home. The damper’s job is to keep the heat in (and the cold air out) during the winter, which reduces your heating costs, and it plays a role in reducing downdrafts in the summer months too. And when a fire is lit, the damper can then open to control the flow of smoke, gases, and the other byproducts out of your home.
Dampers today are available in two types – throat dampers and top-sealing dampers. A throat damper is installed right above the firebox, and it’s what is typically found in older masonry chimneys. That said, this type of damper has many flaws and issues, which is why the crew here at Mr. Smokestack recommends a top-sealing damper which is installed at the top of your chimney.
What Is a Top-Sealing Damper?
Instead of the traditional dampers placed at the throat of the chimney system, the top-sealing damper is installed at the top of the chimney. While the throat damper closes loosely, the top-sealing damper closes with a tight seal, sealing off the entire flue completely.
This tight seal protects the entire length of the flue, keeping water, wind, and animals out all year long. And even though it is installed at the top of the chimney, it is still easy to operate with a cord that hangs near the hearth.
The Problem With Throat Dampers
So, what’s the problem with throat dampers? Well, first of all, it can become rusted or broken over time, and if the damper stops working it can be a recipe for disaster. You’ll be more prone to have smoke and poisonous gases enter your home, and cold drafts will be more likely to come down the chimney too.
Along with this, throat dampers are typically metal and do not have a reliable seal. Even when the throat damper is engaged, there is no airtight seal and drafts and small critters and birds can get through.
Finally, these models are more susceptible to water damage and acidic corrosion caused by soot and creosote buildup. When the throat damper malfunctions, it may lead to a houseful of smoke and go unnoticed until a serious hazard occurs. And when the damper becomes worn out or stuck, you should not use your fireplace until all issues are addressed.
Advantages of Top-Sealing Dampers
- Top-sealing dampers help the chimney cap. One of the main advantages of a top-sealing damper is that it serves alongside the chimney cap when the damper is closed. Equipped with a silicone rubber gasket that seals in heated air during the winter and cooled air during the summer, a top-sealing damper also gives you an air-tight seal to keep out water, debris, birds, squirrels, and raccoons – just as a chimney cap would.
- Top-sealing dampers can save you energy. Throat dampers don’t seal as well as top-mount dampers, and this can end up costing you a lot of money. With a top-sealing damper, you won’t have to worry about cold air, ice, and snow entering your flue to create a cold core in your chimney. Why is a cold core bad? Well, it will cool your home at the same time that your heating system is trying to warm it up, which is a waste of both fuel and money. Since a top-sealing damper sits at the top your chimney, cold air won’t enter your flue at all.
- Top-sealing dampers are easy to operate. With some throat dampers, you need to practically stick your head up the fireplace to open and close them. This is not only very inconvenient, but can also be messy. When you have a top-sealing damper, opening and closing the damper is simple. A stainless steel cable from the drops down the chimney from the damper and connects to an easily-accessible handle which is mounted inside the firebox. Different models will have different opening and closing methods, but we guarantee you will find all easy to use.
- Top-sealing dampers save you money. Not only will the top-sealing damper save you money by serving as both the cap and the damper, but it will save you money on your monthly energy bills, as well. Heated air is known to escape the home by way of the chimney. When you have a top-sealing damper you can close the damper as soon as your fire goes out, keeping heated air inside your home where it belongs. And during the off-season, the top-sealing damper will prevent drafts from coming into the house or letting conditioned air escape.
- Top-sealing dampers protect your chimney. The tight seal of the top-sealing damper is effective at protecting the chimney system. When the damper is engaged, it is closed and no water will get into the chimney and cause water damage. Closing off the flue from the top also prevents humidity from mingling with the soot and creosote in the chimney which can corrode the liner and cause foul odors.
Hire Our Professionals Today
It’s our goal at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service to provide the best services to homeowners in Raleigh, Durham, and all of their surrounding areas. We don’t want our customers to just be warm, but safe as well! That’s why we recommend top-sealing dampers. You can have yours installed in time for winter when you schedule an appointment today. We can also perform a chimney sweeping to clear away all the soot and creosote that cakes onto your chimney components and causes damage.
Finally, we’ll show you how to work your new damper properly and safely, so that you get the most from your fireplace experience every time.This and other safety tips can be discussed with your family and your chimney expert during your appointment.
Call 919-747-1859 or request an appointment online today.