How to operate a flue in a wood burning fireplace

Written by leslie truex Google
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How to operate a flue in a wood burning fireplace
Make sure the damper on the flue is fully open when lighting a fire. (fireplace image by askthegeek from

A fire on a cold night keeps the family home warm and cosy. Without knowledge of how to operate the damper on the flue, however, you could end up with a house full of smoke. Or if the damper of the flue is left open when there is no fire, you could be wasting energy and increasing your electric bill. Fortunately, operating the fireplace flue damper takes little skill.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Locate the flue lever before starting a fire. Some fireplaces have a lever while others will have pulley system consisting of two chains with rings on the end. They are most often found at the front top part of the fireplace. Often you can see them just by looking directly at the fire place. If not, you'll need to poke your head into the fireplace and look up.

  2. 2

    Determine the position of the flue damper. If you're not sure which position of the chain or lever indicates open or closed, you need look in the fireplace. Put your head in and look up. If can see the sky, the flue damper is open. If it's dark out or you're not sure, you can reach your hand up to feel for the flue. (Make sure there has not been a fire recently as the flue gets hot.) If the flue is open, you'll be able to reach your hand up the chimney. Once you've determined the status of the flue damper, remember the position of the lever or chains so you'll always know if the flue is open or shut without having to check the flue directly.

  3. 3

    Open the flue damper for a fire. When you want to build a fire, open the flue damper first by pulling the chain or shifting the lever. If you're not sure which position is the open or shut, repeat Step 2 to determine the position of the damper. Once the flue is open, place your logs, kindling and paper into the fireplace and set the fire.

  4. 4

    Close the flue damper when there is no fire. When you're fire is out or during seasons that you don't have fires, keep the flue damper shut to prevent heat or cooling loss. It will help you save energy too.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't manipulate the flue damper when a fire is burning or a fire has just been extinguished. It gets very hot and can cause severe burning.

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