Do I Need a Damper for my Wood Stove?

Whether you’re researching purchasing your first stove, considering an upgrade or have inherited an old stove within a property, you may be wondering do I need a damper for my wood stove?

We’ll cover the basics below on why you may or may not wish to get a damper.

In short, if you have an older stove, you should already have a damper. If you have a newer stove, it’s probably not necessary but keep reading if you want all the details.

What is a damper?

Before we start talking about whether or not you need a damper, it’s vital to first understand what it is and what it actually does.

A damper is essentially, a little door at the bottom of the flue or at the top of your stove firebox. When the fire is not on, the damper is there to stop the cold air from coming in through the flue, creating a draught, and making a room cold as a result.

On the flip side, when you’re using your stove and there’s an active fire burning, the damper should be open to allow the gas and smoke to escape.

So, that’s how it works but is a damper necessary?

Do I Need a Damper for my Wood Stove?

Why Older Stoves Need a Damper

If you own an older wood stove, chances are, a damper will be helpful.

Older wood burning stoves are not as well insulated as more modern models. And the homes (generally also older) they tend to be in are also not as well insulated.

Without a damper, when the fire is out, cold air can climb in through the chimney, travel through the flue, and enter your home.

As a result, a damper is necessary to keep this cold air out. Otherwise, temperatures could drop and you could waste money and energy on extra heat for your home.

Why Modern Stoves don’t Need a Damper

On the other hand, because modern homes and modern wood stoves are much better insulated, you’re unlikely to need a damper.

Although the cold air may travel through the flue, it won’t be able to get into the room because the stove will trap it due to improved insulation design. Your home should also be warmer since most modern homes are well-insulated as a result of newer building practice.

How to Tell whether or not you Need a Damper

If you’re unsure whether your stove is “old” enough to justify getting a damper, or if your room is “well-insulated” enough to justify no damper, here are some points to consider:

Does the room get very cold in the winter?

Does your flue sit inside a flue pipe or a chimney?

How well insulated is your house or your stove?

Chimneys can be draughtier as a result of the increased size and older building practices, so if you’re using a chimney and the room feels noticeably colder than other areas of the house, then it may be time to consider a stove damper. Likewise, if your house is older and hasn’t been insulated to current modern standards then again it may be worth considering this addition.

How to install a new damper

If you get to the point where you decide that getting a damper is the right decision for you, then here is a quick guide on how to install one:

To follow these particular instructions, you will need a damper with a rod and a plate, a screwdriver, a hammer, a flue pipe, some oil, and a marker pen.

1. Your flue pipe should have a crimped edge and a non-crimped edge. Measure 12 inches from the non-crimped edge, and use a permanent marker to make a small dot.

Make sure your mark is away from the welded side. You do not want your damper rod (we’ll get to what that is in a minute) to pearce the welded part.

2. Take the damper rod out of your damper.

3. Hold the pointed end of your damper rod over the mark you’ve just made, and use a hammer to turn this mark into a hole.

4. Use a drill to make this hole bigger, and use oil for protection.

5. Place your damper plate inside, and put the rod through the hole, connecting it with the plate.

6. Use the hammer to make a hole for the other end of the rod. Follow the same instructions as above with the drill and oil.

7. Put the rod through the holes, then secure the plate in place.

8. Screw the damper plate in place to stop it from wobbling.

Please note that these instructions only apply to some types of damper and flue setups.

In the majority of cases it will be recommended that you employ professional help to install a new damper. Please remember that stoves are designed to contain and control extremely high temperatures, and tampering with this is any way could cause harm to you and your home.

How to Operate an Old Damper

As we’ve previously stated, the majority of older stoves will already have a damper installed. Older dampers usually work using a lever.

If you’re unsure about operating a damper, please use the below points as a guideline:

When the lever is to the left, the damper is closed. So, if you want to close the damper, move the lever left.

When you want to open it, move the lever to the right.

If you’re unsure, use a flashlight to check whether or not the damper is open.

Again, please remember that every stove can be slightly different based on the manufacturer’s unique design so if in doubt seek out the original instructions.

As you can see, despite being a relatively small part of the entire stove setup a damper can prove extremely useful in excluding cold air, removing smoke and gas, and generally making your stove experience more comfortable. That being said, most modern designs now operate in a slightly different way.

We hope this helps, and for everything else home heating stick with