I Think My Damper Door is Missing.

ibjamminMay 3, 2007

I have a brick fireplace with a wood insert in it. I had it installed a few years after I built my house about 25 years ago because I could not get any heat from just the fireplace. ( Poorly built.) Since I do not use it that much anymore ( none in the last 5 years or so ), I want to pull the insert out, reface the fireplace surround and hearth with marble to give it a more updated look. When I pulled the covers off that go around the insert to help seal it, I noticed by using a mirror and flashlight that I think the damper door has been taken off. Is this possible ? I can see the metal frame for the door and the piece the handle sat on to adjust it. There is no flue pipe going from the insert up the chimney so I do not know why someone would have to take it off. But I do not want to take the insert out and leave a open hole up my chimney where in the summertime cold air from the central will be exiting up it. I have a chimney cap on it now to keep most stuff from getting down it. I was wondering if I could just cut me a steel plate to cover the hole on the top of the chimney since I will not be building any fires ? I would appreciate your help on this one.

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Yes, the standard approach to my knowledge for the installation of the old fireplace insert is: The insert has a "damper" built into its top, which will help close off the flue when the insert is not in use. The insert does not have its own airtight pipe going up the chimney, as is now required by code in most/all areas. Thus, the insert just "dumps" it smoke into the fireplace and the fireplace damper is removed to give that smoke the best possible was to escape up the chimney. The insert may have a wide flange on the face to help block air form being drawn from the room and sent up the chimney. This works, but does not deliver a true "airtight" appliance. The fireplace damper maybe laying on the fireplace floor behind the insert, or perhaps laying in some other out of the way place in the fireplace.

The original dampers in most fireplace are very poor "storm doors" for the chimney. Ideally we'd like to be able to shut off all air flow through the chimney (up or down) when the fireplace is not in use. If you do not plan to use the fireplace and have access to the chimney top, above the roof, by all means block the chimney there with a heavy flate material large enough to cover the chimney flue, and I recommend you use some weather stripping or caulk to seal the cover in place. A way to do this while making it possible to use the fireplace is to install a cable pull damper at the top of the chimney, one brand is Lock Top. These close like a storm door, and have a stainless steel cable running down the chimney to a pull handle and latch. Then if one wants to use the fireplace they simply pull the chain to release it from the latch and springs at the top push the top up so smoke can flow out. When the fire is out one can close the top again by pulling on the cable and latching it via a catch/bracket installed in the firebox.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 9:13PM
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Thanks for the help. I think I will just put a piece of flat steel up there for now. I saw where they make a chimney balloon to install where the old damper was that would stop the air from going up the chimney to where the flat plate of steel will be. When I do start to use it again, I will probably go with the cable pull damper at the top like you mentioned.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 4:39PM
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