Energy is getting more and more expensive every day. Therefore, it is important to conserve as much as possible when it comes to heating and cooling your home. In order to help conserve energy in homes with chimneys, you should probably install a chimney damper. A chimney damper seals off the chimney flue while it is not in use and keeps that valuable cool or warm air in your house.
Chimney dampers come in several designs and can be installed just above your fireplace or at the top of the chimney by way of a chimney damper cap. Both types of damper can be operated by pulling on a chain that is attached to them or turning a knob. No matter which design you use, be sure to use it regularly when the fireplace is not in use, otherwise, that valuable energy that you use in your home may be going right out of the flue.
Chimney dampers also serve several purposes within a chimney; the most important one being energy conservation. However, dampers can also help keep animals, bird and debris from getting into your home through the chimney flue. In chimneys without a chimney cap on them, animals have direct access to the perfect nesting spot for them. A chimney is nice and warm and safe from many predators. If these critters do make it into your chimney, a chimney damper installed just above the fireplace can serve as a barrier between that animal and your home. Larger animals such as raccoons may actually be able to open the chimney damper if they are so inclined to do so and then they will have easy access to your home and everything in it.
Chimney dampers also stop rainwater and other debris that makes it into your chimney from entering your home as well. The smoke shelf which is a solid surface just behind the top of the back wall of your fireplace will often catch most of this type of debris, however if the smoke shelf is not cleaned properly, then that debris can spill over into the fireplace. If there is a damper in place, then it will stop the debris from getting into the fireplace.
By sealing off the chimney during the warm months when it is not in use, that expensive air from the air conditioner will stay inside and keep your home cooler. A chimney damper, so long as it is kept in good shape will successfully accomplish this. A damper, along with a good set of tightly-sealed, glass, fireplace doors, will make your home as energy efficient as it can possibly be. The chimney damper is also used in the cold months when the fireplace is not being used. For instance, if you are using a furnace or some other heating source, then you won’t want that heat escaping through the chimney of the unused fireplace. By simply sealing off the chimney, the heat will not be drafted out of your home.
Another type of chimney damper that may be used is the chimney damper cap, which is installed at the top of your chimney. These dampers are operated the same way using a chain to open and close them. One design of this type of damper is called the Energy Top Chimney Damper. When open on the top of a chimney, this damper looks similar to a chimney cap. When the chimney is not in use and the chain is pulled to close the damper, the top of this damper comes straight down onto the flue opening and practically disappears from sight. The Seal Tight Chimney Damper is another type of damper cap. Using this type of chimney damper will prevent the look of a chimney cap on the chimney, for it uses a single turning plate that opens and closes the chimney flue.
One problem with the chimney damper caps is that during the winter months, after you burn a fire, you can’t close the damper for a few hours because the fire will continue to smolder for a while. This is to be expected when using a wood-burning fireplace. However, if there is a chance of any kind of precipitation during that time, then your chimney will be susceptible to moisture, which will deteriorate the interior of your chimney. Also, when these dampers, which have no wire netting or barrier, are accidentally left open during those spring months then there is nothing to protect against animals and debris entering your chimney or even your home.
The best solution to this is to have a chimney cap installed over the damper. Unfortunately, the cap will have to be quite large in order to accommodate the damper opening and closing. Even for dampers that are installed just above the fireplace, a chimney cap should be used in order to prevent this type of thing from happening.