• Repair or Replace Your Broken Fireplace Damper

    fireplace-doors

    There are several things that can go wrong with a fireplace damper.
    They are subject to long periods of high heat, and this might cause even steel dampers to warp.
    Heating followed by them cooling might eventually cause cracking. The build-up of creosote on them might cause them not to fit properly and be drafty.
    A damper not working sufficiently can allow cold air to get into your home and potentially insects and rodents too. In addition, the damper control mechanism or handle might become loose or break. Whether or not you’ll be able to make the repair yourself depends on exactly what the issue is and your skill as a handyman.
    This repair is included in our full Fall and Winter Maintenance Checklist and should be something you look at before you want to build that fire.

    Fireplace Damper Repair, Replacement and Cleaning Tips

    We offer tips in this house guide for cleaning a dirty damper if you want to do the work yourself, so that it will fit properly.
    Prices are included too for having a chimney sweep clean the damper and chimney. Fireplace damper repair costs are also included for dampers that are cracked or otherwise need to be replaced.
    Factors that might make the cost higher are included too, and we’ll suggest ways to limit costs.

    Finally, links are provided below to other sites that offer helpful information on fireplace damper repair or replacement.

    • Getting a good look at the damper might require cleaning out the fireplace and using a flashlight to see into the dark chimney
    • Wearing eye protection against soot and debris is a good idea when inspecting or working on a chimney damper
    • Use a wire brush to remove soot, tar and creosote (all black, nasty stuff, though creosote contains combustible material and poses a fire threat) from the damper, and it might fit tightly following cleaning
    • If possible, disassemble the damper for more complete cleaning
    • When a damper is so dirty it won’t fit right, it probably indicates that the entire chimney is due for a cleaning to prevent the danger of creosote catching fire
    • If you find a cracked or warped damper, it will need to be replaced
    • Homeowners with DIY skills and experience will be able to evaluate whether making the repair is something they can do or whether calling a professional is a better choice
    • Your options for getting repairs made include the local fireplace installer, a stone mason who builds fireplaces or a handyman with good experience
    • For disassembling the damper, you’ll likely need a screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench and perhaps some WD-40 to loosen parts

    Fireplace Damper Repair Costs

    Because damper repairs vary so widely in what needs to be done, it’s impossible to give very exact figures. Here are some ballpark fireplace damper repair prices to give you an idea of what to expect.

    DIY Fireplace Damper Repair Cost: A wire brush costs as little as $5. Your local home improvement store will have soot and creosote cleaner in the range of $7 to $25 per bottle. Damper parts range from $5 for clamps to $10-$30 for handles to $75 to $200 for entire damper assemblies.

    Professional Damper Repair Cost: In addition to the parts, you’ll be paying for the contractor’s time. Expect to pay $175 to $300 to have your chimney professionally cleaned. For parts replacement, expect labor estimates in the range of $100 to $125 for minor repairs plus the cost of the parts and upwards of $200 for labor plus the cost of the damper to replace the entire assembly. This can be an expensive repair because mortar must often be removed from the chimney in order to remove the old damper, and fresh mortar must be added to secure the new damper. In easier and less costly repairs, the damper is bolted to the brick, so can be removed more easily. However, if the mounting holes on the new one don’t match, new holes will have to be drilled, and the cost will rise.

    Fireplace Damper Repair Money Saving Tips

    If replacing the damper is as easy as unbolting the old unit and bolting in the replacement, you may be able to do it yourself and save a significant amount of money. If you’ll need to drill into brick, a masonry bit will be needed and may cost as much as $25. A corded drill or corded hammer drill is recommended, though some cordless tools have the necessary power for masonry. If you don’t have a drill and can’t borrow one, they can be rented for $35 to $60 depending on how long you’ll need it.

    When hiring a professional contractor for the work, the best way to save money is to get multiple estimates for the work. Contractors that know they’re competing for the job will give you their best price.

    DIY Damper Repair and Replacement Resources

    Here are a few links to additional resources that will help you understand cleaning, repairing and replacing a fireplace damper.

    Highs Chimney Service – This article discusses problems with the fireplace damper in the section on broken firebricks.

    Masters Services – Adding a top damper to your chimney can cut down on the loss of heated and cooled air, thereby lowering your energy bills. This site shows you how.

    Creative Masonry & Chimney – Damper replacement costs are discussed on this page from a local fireplace contractor.

     

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