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Is There a Difference Between a Flue and Damper?

You’re not alone if you’re unsure about the difference between a flue and a damper. Many folks use the terminology interchangeably. However, the flue and damper are not the same. So, when someone says they’re going to “open the flue,” they are really opening the fireplace damper.

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What is a Flue?

The flue is the vertical duct inside a masonry or prefabricated chimney. It extends from the top of the stack down to the throat, just above the damper assembly.

The smoke and gases vent up the flue pipe, exiting your home so you can use your fireplace or heating stove safely. Also, a flue liner, which may be clay terracotta, cement, stainless steel, or another material, protects the flue so that the heat and flames in the firebox don’t spread to nearby combustible materials where it can start a chimney or house fire.

The flue should also have a chimney cap or chase cover to prevent moisture, critters, and debris from getting inside the chimney that could block the venting of harmful contaminants. In addition, a flue obstruction can cause a dangerous backdraft that pushes smoke, soot, and toxic carbon monoxide fumes down the flue and into your home.

What is a Fireplace Damper, and Where is it Located?

A fireplace damper is a cast-iron or metal device that controls the airflow inside the chimney, much like a window ventilates a home. When you open the damper, air flows into the firebox so that there is sufficient oxygen to light and maintain a fire in the fireplace. It also allows the smoke and fumes to vent up the flue and exit at the top of the chimney. Closing the damper after the fire burns out or when you’re not using the fireplace prevents the conditioned air inside your home from escaping through the fireplace. It also keeps rain and pests out of the fireplace.

Throat Damper

Most masonry chimneys have a throat damper. It is installed in the chimney’s throat at the bottom of the flue, just above the firebox. It is typically opened or closed using a handle or knob. Since it is located close to the heat source, throat dampers are more prone to warping, rusting, and buildup from creosote, soot, and corrosion that can impede their operation and performance. When closed, it seals the firebox, protecting it from rain, debris, and pests.

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Top-Sealing Damper

Top-sealing dampers are becoming increasingly common in Augusta, GA, Orangeburg, SC, and surrounding communities as a more energy-efficient replacement for old or worn throat dampers. They are installed at the flue’s top and also function as a chimney cap. In addition to increasing energy efficiency, it seals the entire duct, protecting it from moisture, debris, and pest intrusion. It is also easier to operate by pulling on a chain to open or close the damper.

Flue Cleaning – Damper Replacement & Repair

Advanced Chimney Sweep is your local Certified Chimney Professional® for chimney inspections, sweeping, and repair for masonry and prefabricated chimneys in Augusta, GA, Columbia, SC, and communities in the Central Savanna River Area (CSRA) and South Carolina Midlands region. Call (706) 833-4630 or (803) 508-3990 to schedule an appointment today! You can also contact a technician by visiting our online form here.