How to Replace a Fireplace Damper
Fireplace dampers sit almost directly above the heat of the fire. Over time, the extreme heat and rapid change in temperature. This can warp and damage the fireplace damper, thus needing replacement. A damper must be in one piece that is snug to the flue in order for it to work properly. If the damper cracks while being rapidly heating and cooling, 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.
First Step (Cleaning)
One step that folks who want to complete the job themselves often skip is actually removing any debris. Clean any debris up where the damper sits and also in the firebox itself. Any ashes in the firebox should be removed and thrown away. Be sure that the ashes have fully cooled before manipulating them. We recommend putting the ashes into a metal can.
Removal of the Damper
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.
Reinstalling the damper
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!
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. Read more about how to solve chimney smoking problems here.
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.
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