Fireplaces are a wonderful way to bring warmth and ambiance to your home, especially during the cold months on winter. However, many homeowners experience issues with downdrafts, animal entry, or temperature changes within their homes when their chimneys are not in use.

One solution to these problems might be the addition of a top sealing damper. A relatively new piece of fireplace technology, top sealing dampers have been gaining popularity due to their energy efficiency.

What is a top sealing damper?

Top Sealing Damper demo - Southern Maryland - Magic Broom Chimney Sweeps

This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.

Traditional fireplace dampers are located at the top of the firebox and close off the firebox from the rest of the chimney. The location of this seal leaves the chimney vulnerable to changes in outside air temperature, causing the air in the chimney to be as warm or cold as the weather conditions.

A top sealing damper is located at the top of the chimney structure. It seals the entire flue off from the outside; this keeps warm or cold outside air from drafting into the chimney. It also prevents animals, debris, and moisture from getting into the chimney.

Like traditional dampers, top sealing dampers are operated by pulley or lever and should be opened when the fireplace is in use and closed while the fireplace is not being used. Keeping a top sealing damper closed when building or extinguishing a fire can cause a backup of smoke or carbon monoxide into your home.

Do top sealing dampers replace chimney caps?

Top sealing dampers function in place of a chimney cap. When closed when the fireplace is not in use, top sealing dampers create a watertight seal that keeps out moisture as well as animals and other debris. When the fireplace is in use, the smoke and hot air from the fire work as a natural deterrent to keep animals from flying or crawling into the chimney. In addition, some models of top sealing dampers – like the pop up models – are designed that even when open large mammals such as raccoons are unable to get into the chimney.

Are top sealing dampers more efficient?

Top sealing dampers are generally considered to be more energy efficient that their traditional counterparts. This is because top sealing dampers seal the entire flue shut when the fireplace is not in use. This minimizes the loss of heated or air conditioned air from the home to the outside. Most top sealing dampers also have a significantly more air tight seal than their counterparts, with some experts estimating that top sealing dampers are more than 90% more efficient that traditional dampers.

By sealing off the entire chimney from the outside, the air inside the chimney is not affected by changes in temperature. This, in turn, means that the rooms adjacent to the chimney structure often experience fewer fluctuations in temperature as well. For many homeowners this translates into utility savings as heaters and air conditions are not compensating for temperature changes in these rooms.

If you have questions about whether a top sealing damper is the right choice for your family and fireplace, contact the experts at Magic Broom today!