What Happens If I Leave My Fireplace Damper Open?

August 13, 2019


Now that it’s summer, it’s important to remember to close your fireplace damper for the season. If you don’t, you’re at risk for objects—some of them alive—to come through your chimney and into your home. Below are some things that can happen if you leave your damper open!

Your air conditioner will work harder

Leaving your damper open during the summer forces your air conditioner to work harder in order to compensate for the incoming warm air. This causes an uneccessary spike in your utility bills, and if your HVAC system is old and overworked, might even force you to pay for a repair or replacement.

Many people are under the impression that opening the damper helps cool the house, because warm air rises and will travel up the true. This is simply not true. Leaving your damper open will actually allow hot outside air to draft in, negating the effects of your air conditioning system.

Animals can enter your home

The idea of a squirrel, bird or raccoon entering your home through your chimney can be pretty funny, and you might even welcome the chance to catch a furry little critter. However, consider that an animal might enter your home while you aren’t around, and do a good bit of damage to your furniture and other items before you come home and discover it. Animal excrement can contain diseases-causing agents like histoplasma, and rabies is also a concern—so you really want to be sure to close your damper!

The creosote smell will pervade all your things

In small amounts, creosote doesn’t smell terrible—it’s actually what gives “smoked” meat its distinctive flavor and scent. However, since creosote consists mainly of tar, as it builds up it will eventually start to smell like tar. Even a small amount of this harsh, chemical-like smell can pervade your home if you leave your damper open. It sinks into couch cushions and other things which are difficult to wash, and even the drywall and insulation itself, making it impossible to get rid of.

Therefore, remember to close your damper—and if your chimney smells bad, schedule an appointment with a chimney cleaning company ASAP! Otherwise, you’re at risk for far more than a bad smell.

Other common misconceptions about fireplace dampers

One common myth about chimneys is that leaving the damper open during the summer helps “air out” the chimney. However, the opposite of true. Leaving the damper open just fouls up the rest of your home, and does nothing to clean your chimney. The only way to remove a chimney smell is to have it cleaned by a professional chimney contractor. Soot, creosote, and grime can’t be “aired out”—it can only be scrubbed away!

The final common myth that we often hear is that the damper does not need to be closed because the chimney cap protects the chimney system. Although chimney caps keep water, debris, and animals out of the chimney, they cannot block airflow or drafts. Likewise, chimney caps can often be damaged by animals or summer storms. If this happens, a closed damper provides an excellent secondary boundary between the chimney and the rest of your home

Schedule Your Chimney Inspection with Our Apex Chimney Company

If you are in need of chimney inspections, repairs, or maintenance in Apex NC or the surrounding areas, call Nexus Chimney Services today.