How To Use A Wood Stove Damper

Written by: Paul Cathro

Updated on: May 22, 2023

Wood fired stove with fire-wood

If you’re considering investing in a wood stove for your home, there are several things you’ll need to learn about before you have one installed. One of the most important is the wood stove damper.

If you’re keen to learn how to use a wood stove damper properly, read on and discover some helpful advice that will point you in the right direction.

What is a Wood Stove Damper?

A wood stove damper can be defined as a plate that can be moved to regulate the air draft.

Essentially, stove dampers are devices which can manually be closed or opened by the user to improve comfort and ensure safety.

When the damper is manually opened, it allows byproducts from the stove, such as potentially harmful gases, to be vented safely from the building. It also allows more air to be brought in from outdoors so the fire can keep going.

When the damper is closed manually, it prevents air from getting out of the building when the stove isn’t in use. This helps to maintain warmth inside the room where the stove is located so that it can stay at a comfortable temperature.

Should the damper be closed when the stove is being used, gases and smoke will get into the room. This could be extremely dangerous and could be a serious hazard to health if the problem isn’t quickly dealt with.

On the other hand, should the damper be left open when the stove isn’t in use, a draft will be caused inside the chimney and this will cause heat to be lost from the home.

Therefore, keeping the damper closed whenever the stove isn’t being used is the best way to keep warm air inside the room in winter and cool air in the space in the summer months.

Wood-burning stove dampers are usually made from either ceramic or metal. This ensures that they are capable of withstanding the extreme heat of a stove as well as being resistant to the smoke, gases and air that results from burning wood.

When the user controls how closed or open the stove damper is, it’s possible to inhibit the airflow through the damper, as well as the flow of particles and gas.

Old stove with open door and burning the woo

Where is a Wood Stove Damper Located?

Traditionally, the wood stove damper location is in the chimney’s throat or base. This will be found at the top of the stove.

This location is chosen usually because it allows the stove damper to easily be hidden out of sight while still enabling it to be accessed easily from inside the stove.

Sometimes, the damper will be what is known as a top-sealing chimney damper cap or top-mounted damper. If it is this type of damper it will be found right at the top of the chimney.

In other cases, you may find the damper at the flue’s base. It will be located right above the wood-burning stove.

What is a Flue Damper Used For?

You’ll need to know what a flue damper is used for if you have a wood-burning stove.

A wood stove flue damper functions just like a chimney damper but it’s a little different.

Usually found on a wood-burning stove, it has several uses that are essential to the proper function of the stove.

The uses of a flue damper include to:

  • Reduce the draft up the stove’s flue by closing the damper off partially.
  • Help to control the speed at which the fire will burn through fuel.
  • Help to reduce how much heat will be lost up the stove’s flue.
  • Work together with the air vents of the stove to put out the fire in the stove.
  • Help to guard against debris, animals and rain entering into the stove through the flue whenever the damper has been closed.

When the door of a wood-burning stove is closed, warm air cannot leave the room and cold air cannot enter the stove.

Therefore, a wood-burning stove flue damper doesn’t usually have to be closed in the same way as a chimney damper if the stove isn’t in use.

This is a primary difference between a flue damper and a chimney damper when it comes to wood-burning stoves.

Wood burning fireplace with glass door

What is a Chimney Damper Used For?

Wood burning fireplaces typically use a damper that is located inside a chimney.

These dampers are usually located right above the fireplace or, alternatively, at the top of the chimney. However, why do you need to use the chimney damper?

Chimney or fireplace dampers are used to:

  • Help control how efficient a fire is inside the fireplace and to reduce its intensity by closing the damper off partially.
  • Ensure that waste gases and smoke from the fire can be vented from the home once the damper has been opened.
  • Prevent cold or warm air from the outdoors from getting into the property via the fireplace if it isn’t being used and its damper has been closed.
  • Prevent air-conditioned or warm air from escaping the room out the chimney if the fireplace isn’t being used and its damper has been closed.
  • Prevent debris, animals and rain from getting into the fireplace through its chimney whenever the damper has been closed.

Without a chimney damper, a wood-burning fireplace would not be efficient or safe to use. The potentially harmful gases that the fire produces would enter the room.

Also, the room wouldn’t stay at a comfortable temperature since cold air would get in and warm air would be lost via the chimney.

What is the Difference Between a Chimney and Flue Damper?

The flue is the pipe which extends from the fireplace outside the property so waste gases, small particles and smoke from the fire can be vented rather than released into the property.

The damper is located in the flue. Thanks to the woodstove damper control, it allows the user to control the speed at which the waste gases, smoke and warm air are released out of the fireplace when there is a fire burning while also reducing the cold air inflow from outdoors whenever the fireplace isn’t being used.

There is very little difference between a chimney damper and a flue damper. The primary difference is that a chimney damper is usually found in a wood-burning fireplace while a flue damper is usually found in a wood-burning stove.

Electric fireplace in room in hotel or motel

Recommended: Do you know how to install a wood stove in a fireplace?

How to Use a Wood Stove Damper

Knowing how to use your wood stove’s damper couldn’t be more important. Therefore, if you’re thinking of investing in a wood-burning stove or if you’ve recently had one installed at your property, here are some tips to make sure you know how to use it properly.

If you’re burning wood in your stove, you should make sure that the damper is open. If you close the stove’s damper when you have a fire burning you could be putting yourself at risk, not only of fire hazards but also of carbon monoxide poisoning.

When you have extinguished the fire, you can close the stove’s damper. This will allow the room to stay warm and comfortable without losing heat through the chimney.

You can use your damper to control your fire. You can do this by opening the damper fully when you start the fire. Allow the fire to burn for several minutes then adjust the damper.

You may need to experiment a little with how open the damper is. You may be able to close it partway, but you’ll need to check how your fire will be affected by closing the damper to this extent.

If your fire is blazing and you wish to reduce its intensity, you can adjust the damper, closing it by two-thirds. This reduces the fire’s intensity but also boosts its efficiency so it will burn fuel at a slower rate, saving you money.

Remember, though, that part of using your damper involves maintaining it and keeping it clean and in good working order.

If debris, rodents or moisture get inside the flue, for example, the chimney’s interior or its metal parts may rust or become damaged. The high heat of your fire will cause the damper to become warped over time too.

Therefore, the damper will need to be checked regularly to make sure that any repairs or replacements are carried out promptly. Should the damper become damaged, controlling the fire will be very difficult.

About the Author Paul Cathro

Paul is an ex-HVAC engineer with 5 years 'in the trade'.

He acquired in 2022 and aims to make it the internet's most comprehensive HVAC resource for small homes in the next few years.

You can learn more about Paul's story here.

Browse his published work on the website here.

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