A fireplace damper helps the fireplace retain heat when it is not in use. A damper functions like an open valve, allowing a lot of amounts of heated air to escape outside and not completely stay indoors. One must remember that when you are about to start a fire on your fireplace, the damper should be fully opened. Some people think that opening it only halfway will help conserve heat in the home but in reality, if a damper is not fully opened, smoke will most likely build up inside your fireplace and in your home. Dampers should be kept open until the fire is out. Here are common damper problems you should avoid to help ensure safety when using your fireplace.
When a fireplace is lit, the smoke should only be visible when you first light it and then should slowly settle. But in some cases, smoke fails to leave the fireplace and enters the home simply because the chimney damper is not opened all the way. When a chimney damper is not opened, the smoke that builds when you first start the fire collects in the fireplace and instead of being sucked outside, it goes back inside the home. Smoke is very dangerous when inhaled and can cause suffocation. Always remember that smoke you see in a fireplace long after you have started it is not normal and could be caused by a damper not being fully opened.
Stuck Damper Valve
When a fireplace damper does not open or close at all, the valve could be possibly dirty and should be cleaned. Try taking a chimney brush and try to clean the damper. It might be stuck because soot and other debris have collected around the hinges and valves of the chimney damper. If it is really stuck on there, you might need to call a chimney expert to have a look at your damper and perhaps they would have to clean it and do some maintenance.
Dirty Chimney and Fireplace Damper
Your fireplace damper and chimney should be inspected annually before the cold season starts. A lot of people fail to have their fireplace and chimney inspected and because of this, dangerous creosote builds up in the flue and can be a cause of a home fire. Have your chimney inspected every year and make sure it is a professional who checks it.
Fireplace Only Starts When There Are High Winds
There are times when only a strong wind can start a fire on your chimney. It is possible that you have the wrong sized chimney cap. A proper chimney cap should be installed on your chimney to ensure that you get the right amount of wind to enter through your damper depending on the size of your chimney.