During the hot and humid summer months, few homeowners use their fireplaces as the extra heat is rarely needed. However, many do not know how to properly close off their chimneys and fireplaces for the season. Because of this, some homeowners leave their dampers open during the summer.
What is a damper?
A throat damper seals off the firebox from the rest of the chimney system. Located at the top of the firebox, the metal plate is opened or closed with a lever or handle when the fireplace is in use. When installed, dampers should create an airtight seal, preventing airflow between the chimney and the rest of the house.
Myths about keeping your damper open
There are several major myths about leaving the damper open during the summer months. One of the most common misconceptions is that leaving the damper open will help keep your home cooler; because warm air rises, any warm air in your home will travel up and out of the flue. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. If you leave the damper open – whether it is hot or cold outside – this can negate the effects of either heating or air conditioning in your home. Instead, the open damper will allow outside air to draft in and counter the effects of your heating and cooling system.
Another common myth about dampers is that leaving the damper open during the summer helps air out the chimney. Again, this is the opposite of the truth. Hot and humid summer weather is notorious for creating chimneys odors, especially those caused by creosote buildup. By leaving the damper open, chimney odors are more likely to be noticeable throughout your home.
The final common myth that we often hear is that the damper does not need to be closed because the chimney cap protects the chimney system. Although chimney caps keep water, debris, and animals out of the chimney they cannot block airflow or drafts. Likewise, in case the chimney cap becomes damaged the damper provides an excellent secondary boundary between the chimney and the rest of your home. For example, if a bird finds its way into your chimney, an open damper will simply give them the ability to fly into your house!
Although all fireplace users understand how important it is to have the damper open when the fireplace is in use, few understand that it is equally important to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. An open damper can seriously impact the air temperature within your home. During the summer, an open damper forces your air conditioner to work harder to compensate for the constantly incoming warm air; this, in turn, costs you more money through higher utility bills.
Even closed dampers can create drafts or lose temperature controlled air. If your damper has been damaged by water, animals, or has lost its seal due to age, it may be time to have it repaired or replaced. Damper repairs are typically simple adjustments that can make a major difference in the energy efficiency of your fireplace.
If you’ve been leaving your damper open this summer, it’s time to close it! Likewise, if your older damper has lost its seal, contact New Buck Chimney Services today to learn about how a new damper can benefit you!