The Benefits of a Top Mounting Fireplace Damper

January 16, 2013 Blog Micah

For many fireplace owners there is a dreadful and extremely frustrating aspect of operating an otherwise relaxing and problem free chimney system….the fireplace damper.

The problems associated with traditional fireplace dampers, commonly referred to as “throat dampers” are endless. For those of you reading this and nodding your head, the headache of wrestling with these issues is unfortunately, all too familiar.

Throat dampers fall into two categories, “poker style” and “rotary style.” The control arm of a poker style damper is located inside the firebox at the top near the damper frame. Often times, this involves having to stick your head inside a dirty fireplace in order to insure it is open all the way. Other times, the damper falls closed during a fire. This means having to frantically find a glove to grab a scolding hot metal handle to prevent your home from rapidly filling up with smoke.

Rotary style dampers are controlled by a knob on the outside of the firebox above the opening and pose a different set of problems. They can become rusted shut, seized up and difficult to turn/operate at best. Too often the metal plates on both assemblies can fall off track or stuck closed. This will either prevent a proper draft during use, causing your home to become extremely smokey or remaining stuck open, allowing your hard earned energy dollars to vent readily up the chimney. Why these obsolete and inefficient designs are still being mass produced and installed today is beyond our comprehension.

A key word there is “inefficient.” In addition to the aforementioned issues, there is another often overlooked, negative aspect to traditional throat dampers. The damper frame and plate components of the systems are always made from metal.  Metal on metal is simply not sufficient to create an air tight seal to prevent your heat from escaping your home when the fireplace is not in use. Since your chimney is designed to draft even when not in use, this means you are most likely loosing furnace heated air unnecessarily when the system is idle.

This is where a top mounting damper becomes a welcomed solution to alleviate all of these issues. The unit mounts at the top of the chimney and looks much like a chimney cap. It operates via a stainless steel cable that runs down the length of your flue and is held in place by a bracket mounted on the side of your fireplace for easy access and operation. It collapses completely flat when closed, not allowing entry of rain or unwanted pests into your chimney. It closes with a silicone gasket seal and is 100% air tight putting an end to climate controlled air escaping your home. These units are very affordable and will often pay for themselves in a couple of years.

The units that we carry and install include a lifetime warranty via the manufacturer and even have a safety mechanism in place, forcing the damper to remain open in the event of a chimney fire. As you can see, a top mounting fireplace damper is the clear choice for your chimney.

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