Fireplace Damper Problems

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

This is my conversation regarding a damper problem that one of our Ask the Chimney Sweep readers had.

Top Sealing Damper
Lock-Top II incorporates rain cap, bird-screen and spark arrester all-in-one. Plus it saves energy.

 

Question from Reader

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)?

A.) I would want 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!

This is the Lock-Top II top-sealing damper in a closed position saving you lots of energy dollars.

To start your hunt, grab a flashlight and begin to look for a riveted, small metal tag to the fireplace metal framing. It is hiding there somewhere; this tag will provide you with the needed information of who the manufacturer is, the model number and serial number.

Then go online and start gathering your information.

While pour hunting for this damper replacement, look for that manufacturer’s UL  “glass-doors”, if they manufacture them.
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 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 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 designed or provided by the manufacturer. In the past, I have dealt with draft and smoking problems with some aftermarket installs (shroud metal side covers) that were not designed and UL tested for that fireplace manufacturer.
These are my own insights
. . . regards
Clay

(Readers reply)

Your answer confusing me but I realize 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?


(Clay’s reply to Reader) and more fireplace damper

Millions and millions of these types of throat dampers were installed in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

I apologize and yes I’m jumping to conclusions thinking that you were referencing a prefabricated fireplace. Please allow me to re-edit my reply. Discover why that damper is sticking. Is it a warping metal blade or just rusting 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 cools and the wood ashes dissipate, that is, assuming that is wood burning in hopes of discovering the manufacturer or your damper. Often the Mfg name is on the damper frame (i.e. Vestal, Majestic or Donnelly).
It is my experience that, all of these manufacturers’ are very popular and are still 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.
If this were mine have a top-sealing damper. If this was my property, using a *Lock-Top II damper.

Lock-Top II

I personally use this damper because it offers 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), saving 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 your fireplace is not in use.
Remember, it also prevents hot air moving through 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 recommend speaking to your chimney contractor about that issue.
Burn safe and warm while saving some energy!

Clay

AsktheChimneySweep.com

For more information on top-sealing dampers, check our YouTube video from our Ask the Chimney Sweep channel!

Make sure that if you buy these dampers, you make sure it is the right size!

Affiliate Disclosure

I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself but just to be totally transparent you should know that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links and I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your support!

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

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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

What to do after experiencing a chimney fire

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

Experienced a Chimney Fire?

Chimney Fire
Chimney Damage

Don’t know what to do after a chimney fire? This is a great 28-minute Podcast/Slideshow! Russ Dimmitt and Clay Lamb of Ask the Chimney sweep recorded this episode to educate homeowners about problems with their fireplace after experiencing a chimney fire!

Schedule an appointment with American Chimney to get your chimney checked out.

Check out our blogs and Youtube videos

I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself but just to be totally transparent you should know

that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links . I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your

support!

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

Read More
Leave a comment
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

Vent Free Logs: Smells and concerns

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

Question regarding; Vent Free Logs:

Smells, heat & respiratory concerns,

Q. My husband just had Open Heart Surgery. We had a Fireplace Build 30/years ago and have been using a large buck stove. Because of his health conditions, we decided to go to Vent Free Natural Gas Logs. We have had a gas smell since we have had them installed.

The installer of our Vent free gas logs has been back and everything is correct. Today I called the Gas Company, no gas showed up on their monitor. But they could also smell the gas, “just a small odor”. I do not burn these thru the night, only from around 11: am to 8 or 9: pm and sometimes not that long. The biggest problem the gas order is smelling stronger in two bedrooms 20 ft away. Nothing would show up on the gas company’s monitors, but they to could smell the odor.

First, they claimed it was our cold air return, but we do not use our furnace/heat and cut the logs off at night. Then they came up with when we took the buck stove out, there is a lot of creosote back in where the stove was which is now open and the logs are setting in. He is claiming the creosote is melting and causing the smell Is this correct. Is there any product that I can get to clean this since it is baked on?

Stage 1, Creosote is often a dusty looking or may appear as a coffee ground texture.

 

 

Stage 2 Creosote, This often starts out as a very layer of lightly glazed creosote in the chimney system. This creosote will expand rapidly as it catches fire and changes into a brittle, fragile and puffy styrofoam consistency and can then easily block the chimney flue cause serious smoking problems!

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3 Creosote, this stinking, tar, or gummy substance can accumulate in the firebox, on the damper, in smoke-chamber or at the top of the chimney flue cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answer

Creosote is a fuel and “could possibly ignite into a fire, and it does stink! Odors move as air moves in many homes. It is my experience that some air is “still moving”, even if the furnace is not running, or pushing or blowing the hot air out of the vents

PCR being applied using a slip casting method of coating the interior of the walls of the chimney flue system.

If any creosote is visible at the start of one of our repair or installation projects,  we would have included a price to remove all of this creosote from the firebox, smoke chamber and chimney flue with a product called Heat Shield PCR (Poultice Creosote Remover) manufactured by CeCure LLC; c/o Saver Systems www.ChimneySavers.com/pcr

In most cases, this is not cheap to repair, but it does work and it will remove the creosote problem.

$1,200 to $1,900 dollars and possible higher are not uncommon. Once again PCR has resolved stinking flammable creosote problems for us.

We would have also included what is called a level 2 chimney cleaning inspection with our chimney scanning equipment. It is viewed as a “change of use” of fuel source according to the NFPA 2:11 or National Fire Protection Association. The standard for Chimney, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid fuel Burning Appliances.

 . . . . WITH ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, LET’S TALK ABOUT  

VENT-FREE GAS LOGS 

With that being said I’m personally not a fan of vent-free logs at all. My customer’s odor problems alone and this is just one reason that I stopped selling Vent Free Gas units altogether.
Take some time to read your manufacturer’s installation instructions, as well as their printed CAUTIONS section.
To the best of my knowledge, most manufacturers will state something about opening a window while the vent-free products are in use, which seems somewhat defeating when you think of it.
How long of a period of time they can be burned is also referenced.

I also feel you may be using these logs way too long of a period of time. But again follow your Mfg. instruction or call their help or customer support line.

Does the manufacturer of your Vent Free Gas Logs have cautions or warnings, regarding respiratory heath issue for seniors small children?

I have often read heath cautions on the use of vent-free gas around seniors, small children as well as family members with respiratory problem warnings; to seniors, small children along with individuals with breathing problem would knock out about 85 % of families that I know of, from installing these log sets, including myself with my own bouts with asthma.
It has been stated that burning 100,000 BTU of natural gas in any form, generates about 1 gallon of water. So my question is, so where does that water go, especially since the chimney flue is now closed up tight. Another possible issue is the dramatic rise in temperature of surrounding masonry, wood mantel and any possible hidden. Construction framing on the sides or the fireplace or under the hearth.

I know well that many fireplace shops and chimney contractors sell lots of these vent free units to a homeowner on the warmth benefit. And many of their customers really love them. For me personally, I know well that vent free appliances’ actually do produce a huge amount of heat. But for me, it comes with a high cost, as well as potentially to many health and safety concerns to my customers, as well as my own family.
I hope that I have shed some additional insights, on possible solving your issue.
Clay

I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself but just to be totally transparent you should know

that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links . I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your

support!

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

Read More
Leave a comment
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