Dampers are often found installed within traditional masonry fireplaces, either within the throat of the chimney or at the top, and can also be found within the stove pipe of many older models of wood burning stoves.
Gas fireplaces are a common type of fireplace, and if not installed within an existing masonry fireplace, many models can be placed around a home with their own vents and flues, and so do gas fireplaces have dampers?
Gas fireplaces don’t have their own integrated dampers. Natural vent gas fireplace inserts or logs that are located within existing masonry fireplaces that utilize the chimney for venting will require any dampers located within the chimney to be open at all times.
Gas fireplaces don’t have a damper themselves, but certain types of gas fireplace will be indirectly associated with the use of a masonry fireplace damper.
Our own gas fireplace is naturally vented and is an insert that sits within our existing living room masonry fireplace. Although there’s no damper within our chimney, many open fireplaces do have dampers and they must be kept open for as long as a gas fireplace is installed.
We’ve explained in more detail using our own gas fireplace as an example:
- Whether there’s a damper on a gas fireplace.
- Whether a damper needs to be open for each type of gas fireplace.
Is There A Damper On A Gas Fireplace?
A damper won’t be found on a gas fireplace. Dampers are traditionally found with chimneys of masonry fireplaces and if a gas fireplace is installed within an existing open fireplace then the damper must remain open in order for the gas fireplace to operate safely.
Dampers are movable objects that sit within a chimney of a masonry fireplace and have a number of uses including being able to prevent cold drafts when the fireplace isn’t in use and potentially being able to make an open fireplace more efficient when closed down.
A damper commonly sits within the throat (bottom) of a chimney and can be manually open or closed using a lever. A damper may also be found the top of a chimney and be controlled using a handle that drops down into the fireplace firebox.
Our own masonry fireplaces don’t have dampers but a damper can usually be seen by looking up into the chimney from the fireplace.
Gas fireplaces are appliances that burn gas to produce heat. Gas fireplace come as a unit that, depending on the type, can be installed into many places across a home, including up against either internal or external walls of a home or within an existing masonry fireplace.
Gas fireplaces do not come with their own integrated dampers.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states within Code 211 Standards For Fireplaces, item 9.9.1:
‘Manually operated dampers shall not be placed in chimneys, vents or connectors of gas-burning appliances.’NFPA
Ventless gas fireplaces, which vent waste air back into a home, and direct vent gas fireplaces, which vent waste air directly outside of a home through a vent in an external wall, typically won’t be found with dampers.
However, natural vent gas fireplaces are another type of gas fireplace and are designed to be installed within existing masonry fireplaces and utilize the existing fireplace/chimney setup to vent waste air from a home.
Natural vent gas fireplaces use the uplift of air up chimney, known as the draft, to help remove waste air from a home.
Natural vent gas fireplaces typically won’t have any integrated form of damper but waste air from a natural vent gas fireplace will need to bypass any existing dampers installed as part of the original masonry fireplace setup.
Our own gas fireplace is a natural vent gas fireplace and doesn’t have a damper integrated into it.
Waste air from this gas fireplace rises up through the vent hood located at the top of the fireplace and up into the chimney and out of the home. If there was a damper integrated into our chimney then this waste air would go through the damper in order to leave the house.
Do I Need To Open The Damper For A Gas Fireplace?
Chimney dampers will need to be open in order for a natural vent gas fireplace, or any other gas fireplaces that utilize a chimney for ventilation, to operate safely. Dampers may not need to be open for ventless or direct vent forms of gas fireplace.
For gas fireplaces that rely on a chimney in order to vent waste air from a home, such as natural vent gas fireplace inserts and gas logs that sit within a masonry fireplace firebox, any dampers located within the chimney will need to be open in order for the waste air to be vented from a home safely.
A closed damper means that air is unable to escape from a fireplace, and if a gas fireplace has been installed within the masonry fireplace then waste air from the gas fireplace also cannot escape.
When a gas fireplace is installed in a masonry fireplace with an existing damper within the chimney, it’s common for the damper to be force held open using a clamp.
A damper clamp will help ensure that a damper remains open for as long as a gas fireplace is installed within an open masonry fireplace.
For other types of gas fireplace including ventless gas fireplace and direct vent gas fireplaces, a damper located within a chimney may not need to be opened.
Ventless gas fireplaces use and exhaust air solely within a home, and direct vent gas fireplaces vent and exhaust air directly out of a home with no direct contact to inside air. It may not be necessary to have a damper open within a masonry fireplace in a home if one or more of these types of gas fireplaces are being used.
Speak to a professional to confirm required arrangements for gas fireplaces and dampers for your particular area of residence.
Gas fireplaces should always be installed and operated in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and any local or national building codes and regulations, and procedures for the opening and closing of dampers should be followed in line with these guidelines for use with gas fireplaces.