How to operate a wood burning stove damper

Written by adee miller
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How to operate a wood burning stove damper
(Old Stove and Antique Chair image by bawinner from Fotolia.com)

There are two kinds of wood burning stove dampers. A pipe damper is a flat, round piece of metal located inside the stove pipe, with a handle on the outside of the pipe, and is used to control the burn rate of the fire. A bypass damper is located inside the stove and is used to direct smoke either around the catalytic combustor or through it. The only way to determine if you have a bypass damper, and its location, is to consult the manufacturer's instructions for your stove. Depending on the installation, some stoves may have both types of dampers.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Stove gloves
  • Hob thermometer

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Adjust the pipe damper to the fully open position. When the damper handle is positioned in the same direction as the pipe, the damper is fully open.

  2. 2

    Start the fire.

  3. 3

    Wait until the kindling has burnt and the logs are burning consistently on their own.

  4. 4

    Adjust the position of the pipe damper to control the burn rate of the fire. Turning the damper handle 90 degrees from the fully open position will locate it in the fully closed position. A fully open damper will allow the fastest burn rate and the hottest fire. Adjusting the pipe damper slowly towards the closed position will decrease the burn rate and control the temperature of the fire downward.

  1. 1

    Adjust the bypass damper to the fully open position.

  2. 2

    Start the fire.

  3. 3

    Allow the fire to burn until the hob thermometer reads between 260 and 371 degrees C (about 10 to 15 minutes). When open, the bypass damper allows smoke and gasses to flow past the catalytic combustor while they are still too cool to burn.

  4. 4

    Close the bypass damper.Once the hob thermometer has reached 260 to 371 degrees C, closing the bypass damper allows the smoke and gasses to pass through and be burnt by the catalytic combustor to produce more heat and reduce emissions harmful to the environment.

Tips and warnings

  • Building a hot fire and then adjusting the pipe damper to the fully closed position just before bedtime will provide warmth from the stove through the night and, in some stoves, leave a nice bed of coals for quickly starting a new fire in the morning.
  • Pipe dampers may be very hot to the touch. Use specially constructed stove gloves, available at most hardware and fireplace stores, when making adjustments.
  • Always adjust the pipe damper to the fully open position before opening the door of the stove, to keep smoke from escaping into the room.
  • Pipe dampers may allow small amounts of smoke and gasses to escape into the room. Ask an authorised installer to check for leaks.
  • Have your stove and chimney cleaned and inspected at least once per year to avoid fire hazard resulting from creosote build-up.

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