How to Tell if Your Chimney Damper is Open or Closed?
Your chimney damper is located in the flue. Dampers are placed inside of the flue to help control ventilation. It keeps cold air out when a fire is not going. That's not all they do, though. Dampers also send the smoke away. Imagine your home filling up with smoke every time you light a fire! That's not all. Chimney dampers also control the intensity of your fire. As your damper is adjusted more or less oxygen flows through your fire. This allows you to make the flames as intense or subdued as you’d like. Clearly, it's really important to know whether your damper is open or closed. You don't want to start a fire with your damper closed! Here are four ways to know whether your damper is open or closed.
#1 Visually inspect it.
Performing a quick visual inspection is the best place to begin. Most dampers are located in the interior of the chimney’s base, so you’ll be able to crouch down and peer up inside the chimney to see it. What are you looking for exactly? It is a piece of metal that can be angled by using the knob or chain used to control it to the open or closed position. If it’s too dark, use a flashlight or the light on your phone. When peeking in, if you can see up through the damper and past to your chimney’s interior, it is open. If you only see the metal plate, the damper is closed.
#2 Check for a draft.
Maybe you can't see the damper or aren't sure whether it's a little open or closed all the way. A second way to know is to stick your hand near the opening of the fireplace. If you feel a breeze of air, the damper is open. If you don't feel a draft, it’s closed.
#3 Feel for the controls.
This is another great way to quickly see the position of the damper. Standard handles will open the damper when they’re turned away from you, so if you cannot turn the handle any further, then the damper is probably open. Pulling the handle towards you will close the damper. Other fireplaces use levers to operate the damper by switching it to the right or left. A lever that’s pushed to the left will close the damper whereas a lever pushed to the right will open it. Some fireplace dampers are controlled by a chain found on the inside of your fireplace. If it’s hooked to the side of the fireplace wall, then this probably means that the damper is closed. A chain that’s dangling freely is a sign that the damper is open.
#4 Listen for outside noises.
Don't want to stick your head or hand into the fireplace? You can also tell if your damper is open or closed just by listening. Outside noises will be amplified when the damper is open. If you are quiet and listen, you’ll hear birds, the passing traffic outside, and other outside noises from within the chimney itself.
Performing one or more of these tests is a sure way to know whether your damper is open or closed.