During the spring and summer, chimney owners think about the condition of their chimney cap and chimney crown a lot. These components of your fireplace system are incredibly important. They keep out the summer precipitation and any kind of creatures that might try to use your chimney as a nesting place. However, there’s another component that you should be thinking about as well. The damper system is equally important when it comes to keeping your fires burning steadily and keeping precipitation out and draft flow at the correct level. Since this system isn’t as visible without some effort, it’s easy to forget about it. That’s why we here at Jiminy Chimney Masonry & Repair take special care to make sure your damper system is in proper working condition during annual inspections and cleanings.
What the Damper System Does
So, what exactly is the damper system? It’s a very straightforward solution to the problem of draft. A fire needs air to burn, and that air can come through your chimney. Hot air in your chimney pulls air through your firebox, which aids with combustion. The damper is a small metal valve in your chimney that you can open or close to control the amount of air that flows through your chimney. Because draft helps your fire burn and you want the smoke to escape through the chimney, it’s important that your damper be open while burning a fire.
A damper also serves the purpose of keeping warm or cool air in your home. When your fireplace is not in use, the chimney can pull the heated or air-conditioned air out of your home. It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that this will increase your heating or cooling bills substantially. The damper acts as a barrier to air flow, so it must remain closed when the fireplace is not in use.
How Damage Occurs
Because your damper system is made of metal, it can rust quite easily. When precipitation or water vapor carried in smoke flows through your chimney, rusting can occur. This will make it more difficult for you to open or close the damper completely. Common wear and tear take its toll as well, and dampers can become warped or bent over time. This also inhibits the ability for a good seal to occur.
If we discover that your damper isn’t in good condition, one option for replacement is a lock-top damper. This type of a system fits directly on top of your chimney with a sealing rubber gasket to prevent precipitation entry. It’s opened or closed from inside your home, so you can easily have a tightly sealed chimney when your fireplace isn’t being used. A lock-top damper has the added benefit of keeping animals and birds out as well! The pros at Jiminy Chimney Masonry & Repair are experts in lock-top damper installation and can answer any questions you may have about this money saving option. Give us a call today!