Replacing a . . . Fireplace Damper 20

 

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Fireplace dampers sit almost directly above the heat of the fire. Over time, the extreme heat and rapid change in temperature can warp and damage the fireplace damper such that they need replaced. A damper must be in one piece that is snug to the flue in order for it to work properly, and if the damper cracks while being rapidly heated and cooled, it will no longer work properly. Replacing a fireplace damper by yourself is possible, and you can save yourself some serious money by foregoing professional consultation.

 

One step that folks who want to complete the job themselves often skip is actually removing any debris up where the damper sits and also in the firebox itself. Any ashes in the firebox should be removed and thrown away, but be sure that the ashes have fully cooled before manipulating them. We recommend putting the ashes into a metal can100_0853

From here the process is actually quite simple. There will be a rod that is fixed inside the chimney by nuts. Use a wrench to loosen the nuts and remove the metal rod. The damper itself will now be able to be twisted off. If your damper has significant rusting, this part may be difficult, and if the metal rod itself has rusted you will want to replace it and the corresponding nuts. You may want to consult a professional in choosing a new damper, but if you do not want to simply taking your existing damper with you when you go to get the new one will allow you to compare dimensions and ensure that you have a proper fit. Very large chimneys may need custom made dampers, but this is rarely the case.

Installing the damper is quite easy– simply slide it back onto the rod in the same fashion that you removed the old damper and fix the rod and damper back into place using the same nuts as before. Be sure it is securely fastened and that it will not wiggle or fall over time. Despite the simplicity of replacing a fireplace damper, I have heard from folks who have installed the damper incorrectly that they lit their first fire after the replacement and their whole room filled with smoke! LT II Cap Damper 2 09507

This is no problem and is usually not the fault of the damper’s construction.

Put the fire out and look closely at the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have installed it as the manufacturer had intended. If you are still experiencing problems, consult a professional.

When replacing your existing damper, a product now available on the market is called a top sealing damper, where the damper is actually located at the top of the chimney, controlled by a cable that reaches down the chimney, which prevents heated air in the winter from being lost up and out of the chimney. LockTop top sealing damper systems are generally what are installed by professionals these days because of their efficiency and ease of use for the customer.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

LY Damper Handle (2)

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

20 Comments

  1. Do you know where I might be able to find a damper plate for a vintage Majestic 28-30 throat damper? The one in my 1940s-era fireplace is missing. I would be willing to buy the entire damper, if salvageable, just to get the plate.

    Alison Tartt
  2. Clay Lamb

    Sorry Allison,
    I would just keep on doing what you are already doing and just keep on drilling down on the internet.
    Possibly a top (sealing damper like a Locktop type) “might” be an alternative.
    Also contact a couple of chimney Sweeps in your area.
    Don’t forget many of the Majestic parts are still available.
    Take lots of pictures and share them with the world!
    Burn Safe & Warn!
    Clay
    * To find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area, use this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator:http://www.ncsg.org/
    Also be sure to go online and read all of their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesListClay Lamb author of:
    http://www.AsktheChimneySweep.com – Youtube Educational Videos
    http://www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com – Professional grade Chimney products
    http://www.HomeContractorsHQ.com – Contractor Coaching Podcast
    http://www.AmChimney.com – GM @ American Chimney Sweep Cincinnati, OH

  3. Would installing an enlarged flue prevent the smoke problem with our double sided fireplace? Our current flue is on one side & doesn’t sit directly above the grate.

    Debby Messinger
  4. Clay Lamb

    It is intersting what you sad about the damper position, possibly trying to re-position the grate off center might help as well as playing with the wood load. I do not think increasing the flue size would help an most likely will only cause it to smoke more. I feel a double-sided fireplace are always a problem, that is unless you have a “positive pressure” from within the firebox pushing the smoke up the flue. Something like a gas-log starter would most likely help, but may not be possible.
    Sorry to say but historically I have found that masonry see-through fireplaces are problematic and just don’t heat a room and are often smokers to boot.
    This is primarily because they don’t incorporate a “back wall ” that is designed, to function to direct and to curl the smoke up the chimney, while at the same time reflect the heat from the fire back into your living space. It is my own personal feeling that a see-through fireplace design, should incorporate LP or a natural gas supply to work properly and consistently.
    My wife and I once had this same issue with our masonry see-through fireplace, and we chose to install a “one-sided” direct-vent gas fireplace insert.
    I will say that we enjoy the beauty of the dancing yellow flame, while at the same time of have the ability to adjust the flame height and to control the blower fan speed, all from our remote control.
    Respectfully
    Clay Lamb author of:
    http://www.AsktheChimneySweep.com – Youtube Educational Videos
    http://www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com – Professional grade Chimney products
    http://www.HomeContractorsHQ.com – Contractor Coaching Podcast
    http://www.AmChimney.com – GM @ American Chimney Sweep Cincinnati,OH

  5. Clay Lamb

    Debby, I honestly don’t believe installing a larger flue will prevent your smoke problem, it is my opinion that it will only cause more smoking issues?
    Moving your log grate around in the firebox area is certainly worth trying.

    Recently a friend of mine who has a new vacation home located in a valley and sits on a rather large lake in Tennessee, said that by his sliding four bricks under the legs of grate, resolved his smoking problem. I told him, that was just way to simple of a fix! I wish all of them were that easy to resolve. What raising the grate does, is to raise the “center of the fire” up closer to the damper opening an pushes the smoke up just a tad quicker.
    Historically I have found that masonry see-through fireplaces just don’t seem to supply any heat and are often bad smokers and end up not being used at all.
    I feel that for a see through fireplace to function consistently, it needs to incorporate a gas log starter. Again the only radiant heat that you will feel, is by having your glass door “open”.

    The primary reason see through fireplaces don’t function, is because they don’t incorporate the design of a “back-wall” that functions to direct and to curl the smoke up the chimney, while at the same time reflects the heat from the fire back into your living space.

    I once had this same issue with my own masonry see-through fireplace, and I chose to install a “one-sided” direct-vent gas fireplace insert. And I will say that I enjoy the dancing yellow flame, while at the same time of have the ability to adjust the flame height and to control the heat of the blower fan speed, all from our remote control.

    To benefit you, as well as our other readers I have provided, my (7 part) step by step construction of a See Through Fireplace. Again this is strictly a decretive fireplace and not a heater!
    1)- See Through Fireplace 1 of 7 Deconstruction
    https://youtu.be/m84EL4GrcfA
    2)- See Through Fireplace 2 of 7 Gas Line
    https://youtu.be/0TaQF0Ldkj4
    3)-See Through Fireplace 3 of 7 Smoke Chamber
    https://youtu.be/I5dVp8rKLl4
    4)-See Through Fireplace 4 of 7 Rebuild
    https://youtu.be/zznjz_x-ZBI
    5)-See-Through Fireplace 5 of 7 Hearth
    Shttps://youtu.be/4H8eWfWXqWI
    6)-See Through Fireplace 6 of 7 Granite
    https://youtu.be/YPpwAiY7idc
    7)–See Through Fireplace 7 of 7 Final
    https://youtu.be/5PS-N3m0pF8

  6. My damper is damaged because it sticks badly. All the companies I’ve contacted in my area want to use the top sealing damper thing. But, how does this work when I’m in a condo and the top of the fireplace has a raised protective cover that covers 2 holes (one from my condo’s chimney and one from the condo above me)?

  7. Clay Lamb

    Anne, personally I would have to discover why that damper is stuck. Is it because it is out of round, warped metal or just rusted closed?
    Then I would be checking to see if there is a replacement damper blade available from the manufacturer. Most competent chimney sweep contractors can install this for you!
    To start your hunt, grab a flashlight and begin to look for a small metal tag that may be riveted to the fireplace metal framing. It is hiding there somewhere, this tag will provide you with the needed information of who the Manufacture is, the model number and serial number. Then go online and start gathering your information.
    While hunting for this damper replacement part. I would also be looking for “that manufacturer’s UL listed the set of “glassdoors”, and that is if they were ever manufactured.
    My experience is that many prefab glass doors will work as well as a damper, in controlling air movement of the fireplace. May I caution you DO-NOT put just any set of doors on your fireplace, as many glass doors are not tested for your unit and may end up blocking air vent that is required to cool the fireplace off.
    I would also caution you on installing any type of top sealing damper on your condo chimney top. As it most likely is not UL listed for your fireplace. Also, let’s not forget that you have that unique situation where I believe someone has installed “sides” on the top, not design or provided by the manufacturer. In the past, I have dealt with draft and smoking problems when some on install aftermarket (shroud metal side covers) that were not designed and UL tested for that fireplace manufacturer.
    Just my own insights
    . . . regards
    Clay

  8. @Clay Lamb@Clay Lamb
    I was confused by your answer but then I realized that maybe you are talking about a prefab fireplace. My condo building (over 30 years old) is brick, the fireplace both inside and outside is also brick and when I had someone clean it they said it was a masonry fireplace, So, does this change your answer?

  9. Clay Lamb

    My apologies to you Anne, and yes I did jump to the conclusion thinking that you were referencing a prefab fireplace. Please allow me to re-edit my reply. I would still have to discover why that damper is stuck. Is it, warped metal blade or just rusted closed? Then I would be checking to see if there is a replacement damper blade available from the manufacturer.
    To start your hunt, grab a camera, flashlight, and tape-measure, and get into the firebox (after it is cooled off wood ashes removed, that is, assuming that is wood burning in hopes of discovering the manufacturer or your damper. Often the Mfg name is embossed on the damper frame (i.e. Vestal, Majestic or Donnelly).
    All of these manufacturers’ have been very popular over the years and may still be available at your local brickyard. On a personal note I have purchased many dampers and just used the valve blade and handle and threw the frame away.
    With all of that being said, if this were mine I would have a top-sealing damper installed. If this was my property, using a *Locktop 2 damper.
    Lock top 2 damper’, offer a rain cap. spark arrestor animal screen and damper all in one. Another benefit of using a top sealing damper as it actually has a payback (ROI), as it will save you energy dollars.
    Installing a top sealing damper actually allows for the preheating of the entire chimney flue stem with warm house air, often making it much easier to start a (wood) burning fire, while at the same time sealing the cold air out, while not in use.
    Remember, it also prevents hot air from being pulled down the chimney during the summer–time AC usage.
    Regarding your statement “the top of the fireplace has a raised protective cover that covers 2 holes (one from my condo’s chimney and one from the condo above me)? I would recommend speaking to your chimney contractor about that issue)
    Again thank you for your clarification.
    Burn safe and warm while saving some energy!
    Clay

  10. If the damper is missing is it required to replace it in the case a vented or ventless gas fireplace will eventually be installed. Can a permanent/semi-permanent sheetmetal block be installed in place of the damper?

  11. Clay Lamb

    Greetings Mr. Howell, I want to make this as simple as I can. Take a moment and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions in regards to the damper being sealed or blocked open as it may vary between ventless and vented logs and fireplace equipment.

  12. Mr. Lamb,
    I’ve got a bit of a dilemma. The open and close rod on my damper has snapped. Is it possible to JUST replace the control rod or would I need to replace the entire damper? The damper worked fine prior to this issue. Thankfully, the damper is stuck in the open position so I can still enjoy a good fire. However, during the winter, my heat just rolls right up the chimney. If I DO need to replace the entire damper, where would one purchase one? I live in a condo, I’m not sure if that makes a difference. The units were built in the late 70’s and it is a wood burning unit. Thanks for donating your valuable time to novice people like myself! Your a very kind hearted person!!

    Best regards

    Wendy McClain
  13. Clay Lamb

    Greetings Wendy,
    Yes you should be able to locate these parts or possibly just buying the whole new damper and metal frame might be a better value and only use the rod parts needed to make your repairs

    May I suggest “taking lots of pictures of your damper and measuring the height and width of the damper or its opening size. I would then go to a local brickyard supplier and see if they have your damper. If so, have someone at the brick yard show you how to take it apart and put it back together. Go home grab a drop cloth, and a pair of cotton gardening gloves, a very bright light and I’ll bet you put this back together. When you’re all done, come to Cincinnati and we will hire you! You can’t do this, what is the worst thing that can happen, that you have to call a local Chimney Sweep to come bail you out, but what a brag tag that “you repaired you own fireplace damper”! Awesome! You can do this

  14. Hello again Mr. Lamb!
    I will do JUST what you’ve told me. I bet dollars to doughnuts I can figure it out! I just repaired my heat pump with an online person like yourself helping me along the way. I was able to test all the wiring from inside the house outside to the heat pump. So surely I can do this!! I’ll keep you posted. And THANK YOU AGAIN for being such a nice person and having a forum in which to help DIY people like myself! Have a great weekend and Happy Independence Day!!

    @Clay Lamb – Mr. Lamb,
    I’ve got a bit of a dilemma. The open and close rod on my damper has snapped. Is it possible to JUST replace the control rod or would I need to replace the entire damper? The damper worked fine prior to this issue. Thankfully, the damper is stuck in the open position so I can still enjoy a good fire. However, during the winter, my heat just rolls right up the chimney. If I DO need to replace the entire damper, where would one purchase one? I live in a condo, I’m not sure if that makes a difference. The units were built in the late 70’s and it is a wood burning unit. Thanks for donating your valuable time to novice people like myself! Your a very kind hearted person!!

    Best regards

    Wendy McClain
  15. Clay Lamb

    Wendy, thank you so much for getting back to me.
    Just to let you know, I will be sharing your projects & comments with my five granddaughters.
    I love encouraging my five gals, with stories like yours!
    “Grandpa”
    Clay

  16. Mr.Lamb,

    I have a pre-fab, the damper rusted and cannot be reattached. It appears that where the damper fell off, it exposes part of the internal pre-fab lining. Looking for options to repair, any suggestions? Top damper? Do I need to be concerned with the exposed gap where the damper used to be?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  17. Clay Lamb

    A prefab or factory built fireplace is made with specific manufactured requirements this includes the damper when we add or subtract parts to one of these appliances essentially what we’re doing is modifying it which may drastically affect the UL listing I have concerns regarding rust at the damper if there was rust that caused the damper to fall out because usually, rust isn’t unique to only one appliance. Might I suggest before purchasing a top-sealing damper that you have a couple of chimney contractors come to your home and get opinions that make sense to you. This could be a very serious condition that needs to be dealt with before lighting an appliance in this again. Below is a link for a sweeps finder as well videos of replacing a prefab factory-built fireplace which is not a minor task. I caution you to check credentials and customer reviews on any contractor on a matter this serious.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCWSKSnojWA
    https://youtu.be/68_UdeIiWEY

    You can find a reputable Chimney Sweep in your area by using this link to the National Chimney Sweep Guild locator : http://www.ncsg.org/search. Also be sure and go online and read their customer reviews from Google, BBB and AngiesList. http://www.ncsg.org/

  18. Thanks Clay, much appreciated.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. […] the cold draft from your chimney is severe or seems to have become worse, it might be time for a new damper. If you’re concerned about heat loss through your chimney, you might want to consider a […]

  2. […] ago, (when I was just starting in the chimney industry), after servicing a customers fireplace and resetting their damper, I was driving down the highway to another job when I began noticing thick smoke filling the back […]

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