Wood burning stoves create a controlled environment where firewood can be burnt efficiently to generate heat.
The fire inside a wood stove can be controlled more effectively compared to an open fireplace fire by using the air vents to adjust the air supply.
Many traditional open fireplaces have dampers, and they can also be found on many older models of wood stove.
It’s now rare to see a damper used on newer models of wood burning stove, and so does a wood stove need a damper?
Newer models of wood stove don’t typically require a damper. A damper was traditionally used on older, less efficient, models of stove to help reduce the flow of air leaving the firebox. Certified modern stoves meet stringent regulations and typically won’t need a damper to perform well.
We have a number of stoves in the family and none of them have dampers.
We’ve therefore explained in more detail using our own stoves as examples what the purpose of a damper is on a wood stove, whether a wood burning stove needs a damper and whether adding one to your stove pipe would help increase performance.
If you’re using an older model of wood stove and need a damper to help improve burning efficiency and heat output you can find a list of dampers available for stoves here.
What Is The Purpose Of A Damper On A Wood Stove?
A damper is a component that can be used to restrict the flow of air leaving a fire.
Dampers are commonly found within traditional open fireplaces to help reduce heat loss from a home when a fireplace isn’t in use.
Dampers can also be found on older models of wood stove, but it can be rare to find one on newer stoves.
Older stoves weren’t designed to the same stringent regulations that they are today and so a damper could be used to help regulate how much air was leaving a stove.
This could be used in conjunction with the air vents to adjust the airflow through a stove, and using the air vents and damper together could help you control the efficiency and heat output of the stove more effectively.
If a stove has a damper then it would be found within the stove pipe.
Our particular (newer) models of wood stove don’t have a damper and one isn’t required in order for the stoves to function as designed.
A damper sits inside a stove pipe and works like a valve.
Using the damper handle on the outside of the stove pipe, you can rotate a damper so that it is either flat (and therefore restricting the majority of the air going up the flue), or rotate it until it’s vertical to allow air to flow freely up the pipe.
Older stoves aren’t typically as air tight as newer stoves and so a damper could be used to help slow down the air flow through the stove.
We’ve explained exactly how a wood burning stove works here, but in summary a wood stove helps to burn firewood more efficiently with reduced emissions by burning off waste gases inside the stove at higher temperatures and pressures to produce more heat.
In older models of stoves, a damper could be used to help restrict the airflow to allow the stove to produce more heat through such processes.
Does A Wood Stove Need A Damper?
More modern wood stoves typically won’t require a damper, while older models of stoves may require a damper to help increase efficiency and heat output.
If you have an older model of wood burning stove in your home and you’re struggling to get heat out of the stove then installing a damper inside your stove pipe may help.
As well as ensuring adequate amounts of firewood in a stove, the air vents can be used to help control the rate at which a fire is burning.
However, the performance of a stove may decrease over time through use.
If a wood stove starts to leak air into the firebox then the air vents can’t be used to fully control a fire.
A damper can be installed within the stove pipe to help balance out the airflow through the stove. Closing down the damper during a fire to reduce the flow of air leaving the firebox can help to mitigate any excess air coming into the stove.
A stove damper will need to be the right fit for the diameter of your stove pipe.
You can find a list of stove dampers available to buy here.
If you have a newer model of wood stove (like us) then it’s highly likely that you won’t need a damper.
In order to meet more stringent emission regulations, modern wood burning stoves are designed with efficiency in mind.
A more efficient stove is able to extract more heat from every piece of firewood burnt, while also reducing emissions in the form of harmful particulates that can impact air quality in your local area.
This means that all of the air entering a modern wood stove would be directly through the controllable air vents, as any other leaks would compromise performance and emissions.
We have two modern stoves and neither of them requires a damper in order to work effectively.
To maximize efficiency and therefore heat output from our stoves we ensure that:
- The right amount of firewood is in the stove. Too much wood and it may lead to over firing of the stove, and too little firewood can lead to an underperforming and struggling stove where more creosote can be produced.
- The right type of firewood. All firewood should be properly seasoned to below 20% moisture content. Wet wood will be harder to burn and lead to a poor burning experience.
For more information we have a complete guide to seasoned firewood.
- The air vents are used correctly. To maximize the efficiency of a wood stove the air vents shouldn’t be fully open during a fire, but closed down so that the fire is burning calmly (but not smoldering due to lack of air).
See our guide on how to use the air vents to control a wood stove for more information.
By doing these things we can get the most out of our stoves and a damper will never be required in order for the stoves to perform as designed.
A damper is a controllable valve sometimes located within the stove pipe.
Modern stoves are unlikely to need a damper in order to improve performance of a stove.
Older models of stove may already have a damper installed within the stove pipe, or may require a damper installed if the efficiency of the stove has reduced over time.