When to Close Fireplace Damper

When to Close Fireplace Damper

Your fireplace damper must be open when you have a fire in your fireplace. It provides the necessary updraft for the smoke and prevents carbon monoxide poisoning. But when should you shut or close the wood-burning fireplace damper?

Not sure how to open or close fireplace damper? See damper instructions here.

Close Fireplace Damper In Warm Weather.

During the seasons you will not be burning wood in your fireplace, close the damper. An open damper is much like an open window or open door – interior air you are paying to air condition will be wasted and escape out any opening.

Open door and open damper - both let air conditioned air out

In the summer, an open fireplace damper is like an open door. Both let air conditioned air out of the home.

Close Fireplace Damper When Fire Is Completely Out.

During the part of the year you are using your wood-burning fireplace, open the damper before you light the fire. If necessary to keep the fire burning well and smoke-free, you may adjust the damper into a semi-open position.

Shut the damper when the fire is completely, absolutely out. That means ashes are cool to the touch even when stirred. If you close the damper before that, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Functionally, this is what that means:

  • Start your fire before you “need” it.
  • Toward the end of the evening, let the fire die down instead of adding more logs.
  • Separate remaining bits of firewood on the grate. Stir embers on the fireplace floor.
  • Leave the damper open overnight. Yes, you will lose some heat up the flue, but you will save the occupants of the home from poisoning by colorless, odorless carbon monoxide.
  • In the morning, stir the embers and check them for any hot spots. Only when they are completely cold to the touch is it safe to shut the fireplace damper.

Close the Fireplace Damper in Preparation for a Hurricane or Heavy Rains.

See Hurricane Fireplace Tips to see more about why you should close the fireplace damper with you are expecting heavy rains.

Is the Fireplace Damper Open or Closed?

To close a throat damper in a fireplace, lift the handle and pull it back towards you.

To remember whether your damper is open or closed (and to remember to close fireplace damper when the embers are completely cooled), you can use a brass damper hook with a Closed and Open side or a brass fireplace sign with a Closed and Open side.


 NOTE: For Fireplaces with Installed Gas Logs

If you have installed gas logs in your fireplace, the damper should never be closed.

  • If you have a pilot light constantly burning under your gas logs, shutting the damper puts you, your family and your pets at severe risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Even if your pilot light is not lit, there is the danger that someone might forget to open the damper when using the gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces emit a copious amount of carbon monoxide, so they must always have an open vent.

If your fireplace damper is stuck in either the closed or open position, here’s how to un-stick it.


Posted in Safety, Using Your Fireplace Tagged with:

Summer Fireplace Myths

summer fireplace myths

Which of these summer fireplace myths do you believe? Learn the facts that might surprise you about fireplaces in summertime.

Summer Fireplace Myth #1: Since you won’t be burning a fire in hot weather, your fireplace will have to suffer from Black Hole Syndrome.

A fireplace candelabra brings the tiny fires of candlelight to your fireplace without the heat of a wood or gas fire. With open, airy looks, they fit the breezy, beachy days of summer. Fireplace candelabra are made in a variety of metals, glass and wood. And you can select candles in neutral white or ivory or in colors to accent your room’s décor.


fireplace candelabra fireplace candelabra

Don’t fall for this one of the summer fireplace myths. Rescue your fireplace from the Black Hole Syndrome by adding a fireplace candelabra and candles.

Buy Fireplace Candelabra and Fireplace Candle Holders

Summer Fireplace Myth #2: Since you’re not using your fireplace, you can forget about your chimney until next fall.

It is during the warm weather that animals seek out sheltered areas – like chimneys – in which to nest. If your chimney does not have a chimney cap, it is an inviting and easy-access home for birds, raccoon and even feral cats.

Bees and other flying insects can also find your chimney a desirable nesting area. But even a conventional chimney cap cannot keep them out since they are smaller than the holes in a chimney cap screen mesh. Therefore, a chimney cap with an integrated top-sealing damper is necessary to keep out these smaller critters. The top damper shuts off insects’ access to your chimney with a gasket seal closure, much like a refrigerator door seal. It opens again when you want a fireplace fire.

Summer Fireplace Myth #3: If you clean a fireplace at the end of cold weather season, it cannot stink in summer.

You were responsible; you had your chimney cleaned when fireplace weather was over. Yet as the weather gets hot and humid, you are smelling campfire-like odors from your fireplace.

Even the best of chimney sweeps cannot rid your chimney of every last microscopic bit of creosote and soot. Bricks and mortar, for example, are porous. Creosote and odors can be trapped in them.

During the winter when the air in the house is warmed by your furnace or fireplace, that warm air rises up the chimney, carrying any creosote odors up and out of the house. But the wet, humid air of summer is heavier than the dry air inside the house. As this heavier air comes down your chimney, it can bring with it the chimney odors.

What’s the solution? A top mounted damper seals the top of your chimney so no humid air comes into the house through the chimney. When you are using the fireplace, you open the top sealing damper with a chain that runs down through the chimney and into the top of the fireplace fire box.


Summer Fireplace Myth #4: Fireplaces are for inside the house, not outside.

An outdoor fireplace is a wonderful way to enjoy summer evenings. Whether a free standing gas or wood fireplace or a fireplace incorporated into an outdoor screened area or patio, an outdoor fireplace is a great way to increase the use of your outdoor space. And s’mores are every bit the hit they are in winter as they are in summer.

Be a Myth Buster. Debunk these summer fireplace myths.

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance, Using Your Fireplace Tagged with: , , ,

Elevator for Bird Stuck in Chimney

Bird Stuck in Elevator ? Follow instructions for Bird Elevator.

Some people find a bird stuck in their chimney or fireplace and panic. Others search for a solution such as the ones we offer for removing a bird stuck in chimney or sitting in a fireplace. The most creative come up with their own unique solution for a bird stuck in chimney.

That’s what Nic did when faced with a bird stuck in chimney. She’s a solutions-oriented student from Sweden with a lifelong passion for both art and animals. Always one to help an animal in need, she created a clever solution for rescuing a bird in her chimney. Nic invented a Bird Elevator to lower down through the chimney, allow the bird to step onto it, and then safely raise the bird elevator up the flue to release the feathered critter.  And Nic was generous enough to create how-to instructions for the Bird Elevator for us to share with you on FireplaceMall.com.

What  You Will Need to Make a Bird Elevator to Remove Bird Stuck in Chimney:

  • A piece of cardboard the bit smaller than the inside of your chimney flue.
  • Scissors to cut the cardboard.
  • Hole punch or something else to make the 4 holes in the cardboard.
  • Light weight string or thread.
  • Heavier weight string or light weight rope.
  • A weight. Nic used a wrench.
  • The willingness to go up on the roof.
  • The patience to wait until the bird settles onto its “elevator” and then slowly to raise the elevator up the flue.
Bird stuck in chimney ? Try this bird elevator.

Photo credit for these instructions for making your own Bird Elevator go to the Bird Elevator’s inventor, http://twitter.com/nicsayhey

Now that your chimney is bird-free, you will probably want to insure that no more birds try to enter your chimney or fireplace. The solution for that is to install a chimney cap. A chimney cap has screen mesh sides and attaches either to the chimney flue or to the cement crown on top of your chimney. The screen mesh allows smoke and gases from your fireplace to exit your home without allowing birds or other animals to enter.

If you also want to prevent bees, wasps and other flying insects from entering your home through your chimney, you will need a top-sealing damper, either with or without a chimney cap. The top-sealing damper attaches to the very top of the chimney’s flue and is closed except when you use your fireplace.

If you use Nic’s style of DIY Bird Elevator to rescue a bird from your fireplace or chimney, please let us know in the comments how it went!

Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance, Using Your Fireplace Tagged with: ,

Does Outdoor Chimney Need Cap

Do Outdoor Chimneys Need Chimney Caps?

A chimney on an outdoor fireplace- whether attached to your home or a stand-alone fireplace away from the house – needs a chimney cap for all the reasons a house chimney needs one.

Outdoor Chimney with No Chimney Cap

The chimneys on outdoor fireplaces below have no chimney caps. On one, you can see the flue protruding from the top; on the other the flue is flush with the top. An outdoor chimney unprotected by a chimney cap invites water, mammals, birds and bird droppings to enter your chimney and fireplace.

Outdoor chimney with no chimney cap

The visible flue on top of the outdoor chimney is unprotected by a chimney cap.

Outdoor chimney for outdoor fireplace with no chimney cap

The flue on this chimney does not extend about the crown. Nevertheless, it needs a chimney cap.

Outdoor Chimney with Stone Chimney Topper

Stone chimney toppers resemble a table on top of a chimney. They have four legs, usually made of bricks or stones, and a flat top, usually a sheet of stone or concrete.

Stone toppers on an outdoor chimney protect the flue, fireplace, and fireplace grate from rain and melted snow. That’s a plus. However, animals including birds are still free to enter into the chimney and clog up the flue with their nesting materials. Stone toppers for outdoor chimneys typically do not have mesh screening. It is the screening that keeps animals out. So, while stone chimney topper are better than no chimney cap at all, they are still not sufficient to protect your chimney and fireplace from animals.


outdoor chimney with stone chimney cap

Stone chimney toppers will keep water but not pests out of your outdoor fireplace.

Stone Chimney Topper on Outdoor Chimney

Stone toppers typically do not include mesh screening to prevent animal entry.

Outdoor Chimney with Chimney Cap

  • Chimney caps have a “roof” to keep rain from entering your outdoor chimney and fireplace.
  • They also have screen mesh on all four sides to prevent mammals and birds from crawling into and leaves from blowing into your chimney flue and fireplace.

    Single Flue Chimney Cap = Black Draft King Single Flue Chimney Cap

    Draft King Single Flue Chimney Cap, Galvanized with Black Paint

  • An additional benefit of the screening is that it prevents sparks and embers from exiting your chimney and starting a wildfire.
Single Flue Chimney Cap on Outdoor Chimney

A Single Flue Chimney Cap is the least expensive way to protect an outdoor chimney.

Top-Mount Chimney Cap on Outdoor Chimney

A Top Mount Chimney Cap has the added benefit of protecting the chimney’s top cement crown.

Decorative Chimney Cap on an Outdoor Chimney

Custom made decorative chimney caps provide protection with architectural style and mesh.

Copper Chimney Pots on Outdoor Chimney

Chimney Pots are another way to combine style and the protection of chimney caps.

Why an Outdoor Chimney Needs a Chimney Cap

Here are the four main reasons that, yes, indeed, you do need a chimney cap on your outdoor fireplace:

To Keep Water Out of Your Outdoor Fireplace

When it rains or when snow melts, without a chimney cap, the water will run down your chimney and into your outdoor fireplace. When water mixes with ashes in the fireplace, it produces caustic lye. In addition, water will rust your outdoor fireplace grate.

→ To Keep Birds and Mammals Out of Your Outdoor Chimney

Squirrels, opossums, bats, and raccoon think of an outdoor chimney as a McMansion of a home! Within the wilds of your yard, but sturdier than a tree and safer from predators, that chimney serving an outdoor fireplace looks like a great place to raise the little ones. Once the critters have claimed your outdoor chimney as a rent-free home, you have not only a nuisance but also a potential for a chimney fire. Nesting materials within the chimney, even if you cannot see them, can cause a chimney fire.

A chimney cap, well fastened to your flue or to the top of the chimney, will keep out even the most inventive of mammals (that is, even raccoon!)

→ To Keep Bird Droppings Out of Your Outdoor Fireplace

Birds sitting atop an outdoor chimney without a chimney cap will use the flue as a toilet. Bird droppings are dangerous to humans. And they don’t get any less dangerous when they are burned in the fireplace: Inhaling the smoke containing burning bird droppings in not healthy, either.

→ To Prevent Wildfires

If sparks are allowed to exit your chimney, they can possibly catch surrounding grasses, leaves, trees and bushes on fire. In the worse case, they can set you home afire. The screen mesh in chimney caps helps prevent embers and sparks from escaping your outdoor chimney.

Posted in Using Your Fireplace Tagged with: , ,