During the winter months, sitting next to a warm, crackling fireplace is often the highlight of a busy day. Many homeowners prize their fireplaces, taking good care of them to make sure they provide warmth and comfort for years.
One major problem with fireplaces is that if there isn’t an actual fire burning, all you have is a giant hole running straight outside. This can easily let cold air come down the chimney and into the house. And during those frigid winter months, the last thing you want is for that cold air to get inside. Not only does it make your house chilly, but it also runs up your bills, as your heating system works twice as hard to compensate.
The good news is that it’s easy to fix this problem. All it takes is the right equipment, and you can have a draft-free fireplace in no time! Here are some possible options:
One way to fix the cold draft problem is to put a barrier between the fireplace and the house. These barriers can come in the form of glass doors, wood coverings or some other material. These covers aren’t always the most effective way to block the draft. Depending on the material and construction, some covers can still let in quite a bit of air. However, one of the advantages is that the variety of options lets you choose a design that fits with the rest of the room.
Of course, if the visual appeal of your fireplace cover isn’t of the most concern, then you can get covers that fit snugly into the fireplace opening and create a pretty tight seal. These covers can be easily removed when you want to light a fire and then replaced when it’s all over.
Another common way to fix this problem is by installing and using a chimney flue damper. The “flue” is the tube or opening that serves as an escape route for the heat and smoke. A damper is a blockage that you install to open or close the flue.
Flue dampers are most typically installed so they can be accessed through the fireplace opening itself. Reaching up into the fireplace, you can find a lever or handle which closes the damper when pulled. When the damper is closed, the flue is effectively sealed. Opening the damper only requires moving the handle or lever in the opposite direction.
Flue dampers work quite well, but they can sometimes be a hassle. One of the biggest complaints is that you can sometimes get quite dirty if it’s not installed right. This is because opening or closing the damper, especially if it hasn’t been moved in a while, releases built-up residue inside the chimney that falls down onto the arm of the unsuspecting homeowner. It’s easy to clean, but it’s still a mess you’d rather avoid!
The other problem can occur when you accidentally light a fire with the damper closed. You can usually tell pretty quickly because the room will start filling up with smoke. Of course, by that time the fireplace is hot, so it can be difficult to open the damper quickly before more smoke gets in!
Flue dampers are great, but they tend to wear out and can be difficult (and expensive) to replace.
Top Mount Dampers
Another type of damper, the top mount damper, is our third and best solution. These dampers operate in a similar way to flue dampers, except they are installed at the very top of the chimney. This damper offers a virtually air-tight seal when pulled shut, effectively eliminating all of the cold air problems a homeowner might encounter.
Top mount dampers open and close much like flue dampers, by operating a lever or handle. In this case, the lever is attached to a cable that runs up the inside of the chimney to the damper. Other than that, the operation is virtually the same.
Probably the biggest advantage of the top mount damper is that it is much easier and cheaper to replace, should the need arise. Because it fits on top of the chimney like a cap, it’s easy to access. This means that taking care of your chimney and your home has never been easier.
Call the Fireplace Professional
If you’d like to know more about your options for chimney maintenance and cold draft prevention, or you’d like to talk to someone about installing your own top mount damper, call Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote today.