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Top Mount Damper Buying Guide: Essential Tips for Homeowners

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A top mount damper plays a vital role in ensuring the proper functioning of a chimney system. Its purpose is to retain the heat within your home and prevent cold air from entering while also preventing embers and sparks from escaping the chimney and potentially causing harm to your neighborhood.

We created this buying guide to help you choose the most suitable top mount damper for your needs.

Let’s get started!

What is a Top Mount Damper?

A top mount damper is a device that regulates airflow at the top of your chimney to keep the chimney performing effectively. It is usually opened and closed using a lever near the fireplace.

The primary purpose of a top mount damper is to keep the heat in your home from escaping up the chimney. By closing the damper, you create a seal to prevent heat from escaping.

In addition to keeping the heat in, a top mount damper can help keep the cold air out during the winter, on the other hand, it can help to keep your house temperature cool during the summer.

How Does a Top-Mounted Damper Work?

A top-mounted damper is designed to prevent downdrafts from entering the home and to help control the draft within the chimney. The damper is opened and closed by a handle outside the fireplace.

When the handle is closed, the chimney damper should be completely sealed so that no air can enter the chimney. The top-mounted damper uses a seal to close off the opening at the top of the chimney, and this seal can keep out downdrafts and help control the draft within the chimney.

Besides controlling the draft, a top-mounted damper can also help keep the chimney clean. When the damper is closed, it can prevent animals and debris from entering the chimney, which can help keep the chimney clean and free of obstructions.

A top-mounted damper may be the solution if you have problems with downdrafts or drafts in your fireplace. This damper can help control the draft and keep the chimney clean. But what if you need to make changes to your fireplace setup?

For those considering modifications or facing issues with their existing system, understanding the damper removal steps is crucial before any intervention.

It’s crucial to consult a professional first to install a top-mounted damper in your fireplace.

When the damper is open, air can flow freely through the chimney. This is important for two reasons.

  • First, it allows smoke and fumes to escape while using your fireplace.
  • Second, it allows fresh air to enter the chimney, which is necessary for the fireplace to work correctly.

If you are considering getting a top mount damper, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, make sure your chimney is the right size. If it’s too small, the damper will not fit. Measure the inside of your chimney from front to back and from top to bottom. The damper should be two inches smaller than the chimney’s opening.
  • Second, make sure that the damper is compatible with your fireplace. Some fireplaces have special requirements, and you will need a damper explicitly designed for use with those fireplaces. To know if your fireplace needs a special damper, consult your fireplace’s owner’s manual or ask a professional.
  • Finally, ensure you know how to operate the damper before buying it. Most dampers come with instructions, but it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the product before purchasing. In the next section, we look at how to use a top mount damper.

If you need help using the damper, ask a professional for help. It’s for your own benefit.

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How Do You Use a Top Mount Damper?

Using a top-mount damper is easy. First, find the knob or lever that opens and closes the damper. There will usually be a chain attached to this knob or lever.

We’ve compiled an easy-to-follow guide below to help you better understand how to use a top-mount damper.  

  • Pull the lever or damper control chain down from its housing to open the top mount damper. If your damper is older, you may need to push up the lever to open it. You know the top mount damper is open when you see the metal flap inside the chimney move or the chain getting loose.
  • To close the top mount damper, do the opposite. Push up on the lever or pull down on the chain until you hear or see the metal flap fall into place inside the chimney. You know the top mount damper is closed when it’s completely sealed off, and no air can get in or out.

Ensuring the top mount damper is completely open before starting a fire is crucial. If not, smoke and deadly gases could enter your home through the chimney.

Likewise, you should ensure the damper is open when you use the fireplace. This will allow any smoke and fumes to escape up and out of the chimney.

Knowing how and when to open and close a top mount damper is essential for any homeowner with a fireplace. By learning about this type of damper, you can keep your family safe and ensure your fireplace is used correctly.

What’s the Difference Between a Top Mount Damper and a Throat Damper?

While both types of dampers are designed to help control the airflow in your chimney, there are some key differences between them. Let’s take a look at the most important distinctions.

Installation

When it comes to installation, the top mount damper is easier because it attaches to the top of your chimney.

However, the throat damper is installed in the throat of your chimney, which is more difficult. This process typically requires a professional to install throat dampers because they must be fitted correctly to function properly. 

Budget

Top mount dampers are more expensive than throat dampers, and this is because they’re made with higher-quality materials and they’re also easier to install. Additionally, their airflow efficiency and durable construction make them worth the extra cost.

On the other hand, throat dampers are more affordable. They’re not as efficient as top-mount dampers, but they’re still a good option for those on a budget.   

Efficiency

Efficiency is also something to consider when choosing between a top mount damper and a throat damper. Top mount dampers are more efficient because they create a tighter seal. This means less heat escapes the chimney when the fireplace is not used.

However,  throat dampers don’t form a tight seal, which means more heat escapes the chimney when the fireplace is not in use, making them less efficient.

Aesthetics

Besides budget, efficiency, and installation, another thing to consider is the look of your fireplace. Top mount dampers are more visible than throat dampers and may not be aesthetically pleasing. If you want a damper hidden from view, throat dampers may be the better option.

No matter which type of damper you choose, ensure it is correctly installed and well-maintained. Proper installation and maintenance are essential for any damper to work correctly.

What are the Benefits of Using a Top Mount Damper Over a Throat Damper?

There are several benefits of using a top mount damper over a throat damper:

1. Top Mount Dampers are More Effective

Top mount dampers are more effective because they are located in the airflow path where the draft is strongest. They also have a larger opening which allows for more airflow.

Throat dampers are located just above the fireplace opening,  where the draft is weakest. They also have a smaller opening which restricts the amount of airflow.

2. Top Mount Dampers Seal Better

Top mount dampers seal better because they fit tighter. Throat dampers often have gaps around them that allow air to leak through. This way, top mount dampers are more energy efficient because they keep the warm air in your home from escaping.

As a result, your utility bills will be lower if you use a top mount damper simply because less heat will escape your chimney, ensuring that your home is warmer and more comfortable.

3. Animal Barrier

Animals can be a nuisance and even lead to health problems if you don’t have a chimney cap. However, top mount dampers have an animal barrier that will keep animals out of your chimney.

This is important because animals can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as the rabies virus. In addition, animals can cause a fire if they nest in your chimney and block the flue. Unlike throat dampers, top mount dampers will prevent animals from getting into your chimney since they’re located at the top of the chimney.

4. Easy to Install

Top mount dampers are easier to install because they don’t require special tools or equipment. You can simply attach them to the top of your chimney with screws.

On the other hand, Throat dampers require a professional to install them since they’re inside the chimney. As a result, installing a top mount damper is less expensive and less time-consuming than installing a throat damper.

5. Easy to Operate

Finally, top mount dampers are easy to operate; you can simply open and close them with your hand.

On the other hand, throat dampers require a special tool to open and close them. This can be inconvenient, especially if you need the tool handy when using the fireplace.

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How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Damper in a Fireplace?

The average cost to replace a damper in a fireplace is $200-$300. However, the price will vary depending on the type of damper you choose and the size of your fireplace. If you need a professional to install the damper, this will also add to the cost.

The following table elaborates on the cost of common fireplace dampers:

Cost of Replacement by Method

Form of ReplacementReplacement Cost
Typical DIY ReplacementAbout $65 – $70
Pro Replacement$180 – $200
Average Replacement$200 – $300
High-end Replacement$470 or higher with a professional

Cost of Replacement by Damper Type

Type of DamperAverage Replacement Costs
Top Mount DamperThe range is between $135 – $450
Throat DamperThis can range from $60 – $260

As you can see, top mount dampers can be expensive to replace when compared to throat dampers. However, if you decide to invest in one, a top mount damper can give you more value if adequately maintained.

Conclusion

Top mount dampers are an excellent choice for an effective, easy-to-install, and easy-to-operate fireplace damper. If you want to save money on your utility bills, a top mount damper is also a good choice because it’s more energy efficient.

Just remember, it’s important to consider every factor we’ve discussed before making a decision.

Consulting with a professional is always a good idea if you need help determining which type of fireplace damper is right for you. They can help you determine which damper will work best for your needs.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.