How Does a Fireplace Damper Work

If you've ever spent time around a fireplace, you may have asked yourself, "How does a fireplace damper work?" This seemingly simple device plays an important part in saving energy and keeping your fireplace running smoothly and safely.

How Does A Fireplace Damper Work In The First Place?
The main parts of your fireplace are the firebox (where all the action takes place) and the flue (where all the combustion byproducts exit your home). Inside the flue is a device called a damper. The damper controls the flow of air (and exhaust) through your fireplace. Here's how a fireplace damper works:

The right stuff. A fireplace damper is made of metal or ceramic designed to stand up to the intense heat in your fireplace's flue. The damper is attached to the flue by a hinge, creating a flap that can be opened or closed by a mechanical control. The control may be a linked handle, latch or pull chain.

An open and shut case. When the damper is closed, cold outside air is kept in the flue and away from the interior of the house. When the damper is open, hot air and smoke form the fire are allowed to rise up and out of the flue. While the damper should be opened completely when starting a fire, it may be partially closed after a fire is burning to control the intensity of the fire or to limit the supply of oxygen to a strong fire.

Location, location, location. A damper that is located close to the firebox allows the flue air to become colder than the inside air. When you start a fire with this type of damper, you increase the risk that smoke will form in the room until the flue air becomes warmer. Dampers located near the top of the flue allow the flue air to remain at room temperature, making fire starting more efficient and less prone to generating smoke.

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