Our Company Blog

Understanding Your Damper

As a homeowner, it is important to know your fireplace and chimney system. How you use and maintain it will determine its safety and efficiency. Using the system improperly can make it difficult to light and maintain a fire. Your fire’s heat, beauty, and safety starts with the damper.

Get to Know Your System

If you have a traditional open-hearth fireplace, your damper may be adjustable. Other systems, including many styles of pre-fab fireplace appliances only have two settings: open or closed. If you have a closed unit such as an insert or stove, you can safely close your damper without exposing your home to smoke and carbon monoxide. However, closing the damper will cause your coals to smolder, increasing the amount of creosote produced. Some homeowners allow coals to smolder in a stove overnight, but this practice means you will need more frequent chimney maintenance.

Lighting the Fire

Your fire needs oxygen to burn, no matter what type of fireplace or appliance you have. While you are lighting your fire, the damper should be fully opened to allow air to flow freely. If your appliance has a vent, this should be opened so that it pulls air out of the room, into the fire, and out the chimney. Without adequate airflow, your kindling and wood shavings may burn, but will not light your wood. This will waste time and kindling as you repeat this process until your fire is lit.

Maintaining the Fire

Once your fire begins to catch, the heat will begin to rise up the chimney along with the smoke. To avoid losing too much heat through the chimney, but continue to allow adequate ventilation, close the damper halfway. If your damper only has two settings (open or closed), you need to leave your damper open to avoid smoke and carbon monoxide exposure.

Saving Money

Open fireplaces lose heat, sometimes costing homeowners 3 times the amount of wood and utilities. You can improve efficiency of your system by installing an insert directly into your existing firebox. You can save money during the summer by choosing an energy-saving damper for your open fireplace. Avoid issues with your fireplace, chimney, and avoid wasting time, money, and resources by burning the proper wood and using the system correctly. Using the damper properly can save you more than money. Protecting your family from carbon monoxide exposure can save lives.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep installs, repairs, and replaces dampers. If you aren’t satisfied with your throat damper, we can install an energy top damper that will save you money year-round. We can be your choice for comprehensive chimney maintenance for all four seasons, and we’re just a phone call away. Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep at 617-469-4528 or make an appointment using our online scheduling tool today.

Ensuring That You Have a Functioning Chimney Cap

When you consider the safety and efficiency of your fireplace unit, you might forget one of its most important elements: your chimney cap. Many homeowners and consumers fail to recognize the vital protective measures offered by a functioning chimney cap; they might also be unfamiliar with the tell-tale signs of an issue with their caps.

A chimney cap is a small, relatively inexpensive addition to your home’s fireplace system, yet offers an important degree of protection from various threats.

A chimney cap prevents critters, wind-borne debris, moisture and other elements from entering your chimney and home. It also prevents burning embers from escaping through your chimney and landing on your roof, causing a potential fire. It’s important to ensure that your chimney cap is in proper working order before colder weather arrives.

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Here are a few signs that your chimney cap needs repair or replacement.

Moisture

Moisture causes more damage to fireplaces each year than mismanaged fires, and, left unchecked, has the potential to cause serious, irreparable damage to your unit and home.

If you notice dripping or pooling water in or around your fireplace, moisture has gained an access point in your chimney, and you need an immediate inspection. A working chimney cap will prevent excess moisture from accumulating in your chimney and home.

Drafting Problems

If you notice that your chimney isn’t venting properly or is sending excess smoke into your home, you might have a broken chimney cap that is allowing blockages to build up in your flue.
If your chimney cap becomes clogged with creosote or debris, it won’t vent properly and will send smoke and particulates from the burning fire back into your home.

There are many dangers attached breathing this contaminated air, including smoke damage to your home and severe illness.

Critters or Debris Entering Your Fireplace

Another of the main functions of your chimney cap is to prevent animals or debris from entering your chimney and causing blockages or creating disturbances in your home.

Squirrels, raccoons and birds will often mistake an uncapped or open chimney for a hollow tree; they often get stuck inside the chimney or decide to build a nest in the space, creating a very dangerous situation for themselves and the homeowners.

If you hear frantic scratching or clawing in your fireplace, you may have an issue with a trapped or nesting animal. This is a sign that you chimney cap has significant damage and needs to be replaced or repaired.

Additionally, if you notice leaves, sticks or other debris gathering in your fireplace, your chimney cap is not working properly and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Ensuring That Your Chimney Cap Is In Working Order

If you’ve noticed any of these issues with your fireplace, it’s important that you have your chimney cap inspected by a professional.

A certified chimney inspector will ensure that your chimney cap is in working order, that there are no issues with venting and that you can safely use your fireplace without fear of hazards.

It is recommended that you have your chimney inspected once a year by a certified chimney sweep. Because fall is the most popular time for chimney inspections, you might consider making your appointment before the rush, to avoid delays or wait times.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep serves all of the Boston area with professional, certified chimney inspection and installation services.

Call today for an appointment.

An In-Depth Look At Top Sealing Damper Advantages

If you’re a new homeowner or are unfamiliar with your fireplace you may be asking yourself, “what is a fireplace damper?” The damper is arguably one of the most important pieces of your fireplace. Often located near the bottom of your chimney, your damper serves to seal your fireplace shut so no heat escapes when your fireplace is not in use. If your fireplace damper is leaky or malfunctioning it could lead to costly heat loss.

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This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.

What Is A Top Sealing Damper?
Traditional dampers are located at the base of your chimney, near the throat and/or the chimney box. However, in recent years top sealing chimney dampers are being recommended. A top sealing damper functions essentially the same way but is more efficient at keeping warm air in and cold air out. Located at the top of the chimney, this type of damper seals the chimney where debris and moisture is likely to get in, and heat is most likely to escape.

Better Seal, Less Heat Loss
In general, top sealers are though to be better at keeping heat loss at bay because they provide a tighter seal and reduce heat loss exponentially. These newer, more efficient sealers are now recommended for reducing heat loss and improve heat retention in more homes. Homeowners are now realizing that a traditional damper is not enough to thoroughly and efficiently heat their home(s), especially if a wood-burning fireplace is the principle way they choose to heat their home.

Eliminating Debris Inside The Chimney
Not only are top sealers better at reducing heat loss, they also help prevent debris and moisture from entering the chimney. Debris like twigs and leaves can fall into your chimney, especially if tall trees surround your home. These twigs and leaves can get trapped in your chimney and cause chimney fires, which are a serious hazard for homeowners. Additionally, chimney fires are expensive, costing homeowners $11.7 billion in 2011 alone. Preventing debris inside your chimney with a top sealing damper is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of chimney fires.

Eliminating Moisture Inside Your Chimney
Not only does a top sealing damper prevent debris from building up in your chimney, it also seals your chimney so tightly that it prevents moisture from entire your chimney. Rain and snow can enter your chimney and affect the efficiency of it. When you’re trying to heat your home, a clean, dry fireplace and chimney is the most efficient fireplace.

In many homes, top sealing dampers are seen as an important addition to the chimney and fireplace. In addition to chimney caps and traditional dampers, a top sealing damper is a simple add-on that can improve the way your fireplace works – making it cleaner, safer and more efficient.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has been serving the New England area for over 30 years, and can help you update your fireplace to make it burn cleaner, hotter and more efficient. Don’t suffer through the winter months. Update your fireplace with a top sealing damper that will improve the way your fireplace works and help heat your home for less money.