Old House Journal - - Restore -

Easy to open and close with a pull on a chain, poker, or latch, a damper is es­sen­tial for fire­places in colder cli­mates. With­out one, heat gen­er­ated by a fur­nace will go straight • up the chim­ney. In many older houses, cast-iron dampers are lo­cated in or near the throat of the chim­ney. In chimneys that lack a top screen, a cast-iron damper is sub­ject to rust and can col­lect leaves, soot, or bird and squir­rel nests. It’s usu­ally dirty to han­dle, and open­ing the damper af­ter the fire is al­ready go­ing is a recipe for both a smoky • house and burns. If the chim­ney lacks a damper, by all means in­stall one. But there’s no need to place it in the tra­di­tional throat lo­ca­tion, which is dif­fi­cult to reach and seal ef­fec­tively, whether you are a pro­fes­sional or a home­owner.

In­stead, choose a top-seal­ing unit (see Re­sources, p. 87). They are much eas­ier to in­stall, even as a DIY project, and elim­i­nate the need for screen­ing at the top of the chim­ney.

Parg­ing the ex­posed parts of a chim­ney with re­frac­tory ce­ment is tra­di­tional in some ar­eas, and can seal mi­nor cracks. But it’s no sub­sti­tute for nec­es­sary re­pairs.

LEFT Con­structed of cast alu­minum and stain­less steel and set with sil­i­cone gas­kets, a Seal Tight damper won’t rust or cor­rode.

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