If you have a fireplace at home, it is very likely that you have experienced lighting a fire then suddenly surprised by thick smoke enveloping the whole living space. Chances are, you forgot to open the dampers. Or it could be that your damper has not been properly tuned up for use. So really, how does a damper work?
What it looks like
Just like the fireplace, the concept of a damper is pretty simple. It is actually a small flap inside your flue that can be manually adjusted to let smoke escape or to allow air to get inside. Fireplace dampers are basically made of metal or ceramic so they can withstand the heat of the fireplace without getting any damage. It can be closed through different mechanisms which include a handle or a pull chain, among others.
Where is it located
Construction is simple for a fireplace damper. The place where the fire burns is called a firebox. The firebox is surrounded by either brick or marble or if it’s a wooden stove, it can be freestanding. The flue, where the damper is located is housed inside the chimney. It is where the smoke goes through once it rises from the fireplace. The damper is located inside the flue.
By knowing where the damper is exactly located, you can be sure that smoke will fill up your home once you start a fire. If it is closer to the firebox, the tendency is that it will take longer to heat up the place. If it is located above the firebox, the easiest way to heat up the flue is to wave a flame beneath the damper and create an air current.
How it functions
The damper plays both an active and a passive role. If the fireplace is in use, the damper prevents smoke from getting inside your home by providing an exit way through the flue. If the fire isn’t burning, the damper is closed tight so that the cold air will not be able to enter your home. If you are able to use your damper properly, you can be sure that the fire intensity will be properly controlled, as well.
Types of Dampers
The most common type of damper is the throat dampers. These are located just above the firebox and usually features a metal rim and flap. The only problem here is that this basic technology cannot perfectly close the flap to block air. If a damper becomes damaged, it is useless to the homeowner.
An upgrade to the throat dampers is the top-sealing dampers which sits on top of the chimney unlike throat damper that are located within. It has a gasket that perfectly seals it to block the air outside. These dampers are installed when the basic damper seem to be malfunctioning.
Dampers are extremely important to every homeowner especially during cold days. However, a damper that is damaged and broken will also be useless so you have to make sure that you understand how it works.