Fireplace damper does not close completely

Other than an energy efficiency issue what is the problem here?

Item is not working properly or as intended. Stick to the facts. If it were the front door that wouldn’t close all the way no one would have a problem understanding why it was a problem. Same goes for anything else that isn’t working as it is intended. Its faulty, fix it or replace it.

Check the local codes. If the gas logs are vented, some municipal codes require that the damper NOT close. That’s what I was told, anyway, in a county where I often work.

Typically, the dampers that are required not to close are for vented gas units. That is a standard code now, although it can lead to drafts and irritating noises in the FP if installed poorly. (I suppose the issue that lead to the requirement is exhaust gases entering the home when someone forgot to open the damper and didn’t have a lot of black smoke in the house to remind them).

For a conventional FP, I am not aware of any jurisdiction near my area that requires an open damper.

I agree that any hole in a house - even the damper - is a hole in the house. Serious energy loss - that alone should be enough. But why is the damper not closing? Age? Build up? Any of those items indicates that further inspection by a qualified chimney specialist would be warranted.

You can also get birds, bats, squirrels in the house if the damper does not close completely.

Hopefully one has a rain cap and spark arrestors on the chimney to prevent that.

If one is asleep, one will not see the black smoke, and there won’t be too much black smoke from gas fireplaces.

Weird Al Yankovic’s parents lived in Fallbrook, an out-in-the-boondocks suburb of San Diego. His parents fell asleep with the cozy gas fireplace still going. This is the original story:

Of course, the papers rarely provide us with any follow-up. It turns out that his parents had started a wood fire in their gas fireplace and were using the gas fixture to keep the wood well lighted. The damper did not have a safety clip on it, so it was closed all the way. His parents did not wake up, having died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Remember that a byproduct of burning organic materials is carbon monoxide. The reason why the safety clip is required on gas fireplaces and not on wood-burning fireplaces is because there is an unlimited supply of gas which will just keep burning and burning and burning, thereby emitting an unlimited supply of carbon monoxide. Wood-burning fireplaces eventually run out of fuel, so there will be a limited production of carbon monoxide and a possibility of people waking up when the fire goes out. With gas, the fire doesn’t go out.

Unfortunately, too many people think that the whole purpose of the gas fixture is to make sure the wood fire doesn’t go out. Stupid, stupid, stupid. We’ve got to educate folks, folks.

  • Hopefully one has a rain cap and spark arrestors on the chimney to prevent that.

*Hopefully is the key word. Many, many do not have screens. Last time I checked a damper in a basement fireplace I had trouble opening the damper. Finally I really put my weight behind it, and shone my flashlight up into the damper, only to be stared at by Mama Racoon. Needless to say I closed that damper PDQ!

One does not want wildlife living in the chimney, so I would choose to install a rain cap and spark arrestors before installing a damper. I think installing the rain cap/spark arrestors also is less expensive than installing a damper.

RR - that was my point about the gas FPs and the reason, as I undersatnd it, that many codes call for permanently open dampers on them.

I have not seen such a requirement for teh conventional FPS…not to say they don’t exist, just that I am not aware of them.

I’m all for education, but sometimes you just can’t overcome Natural Selection.

I guess some people, due to geographic locations, a damper does not mean much to them. Maine is a different look on these parts of the fireplace for obvious reasons.
Since the fireplaces work most often than not, rodents, birds, and critters is not quite an issue. Since the roofs are so darn cold, why install a spark arrestor, it is cold before it hits the roof anyways.
Unless you have a Rumford Design fireplace here to convect the heat needed in the Winter time, I would not even fire it up if it does not have a damper.

I have one in my house and never use it because it is a useless installation.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

It is true that the building codes since 1991 have not allowed the use of fireplace dampers in new vented gas log setups. Most installers put in a clip that will not allow the damper to close after the gas log is installed.

A chimney balloon is an allowable substitute for a damper since it is not a permanent fixture in the fireplace and it will release if introduced to heat. So the homeowner can still close their flue off and not allow outside air to rush in and heat to rush out.

Just another non member vendor folks.

We have dampers in all new vented gas log setups here in San Diego. However, a safety clip on the damper is a requirement.

Recommend a level II inspection and repairs as needed on all chimneys prior to starting any fire in the fireplace