Fireplace Flue

How to Open Fireplace Flue?

On chilly winter days, a cozy fire can provide warmth and comfort. However, ensuring the fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire is important. If the damper remains closed, the flue can become obstructed, which can cause smoke to fill your home instead of flowing up the chimney and dispersing outside. After the fire has burned out, it’s essential to close the damper to keep the heat inside the room. The flue is an important fireplace component that directs smoke and combustion gases outside. Opening the damper is critical to prevent these harmful gases from entering your living space.

Opening the fireplace flue includes the following steps:

1. Locate the flue:

The damper is typically located at the bottom of the chimney and controls the flow of air and smoke through the chimney. In contrast, the flue is the passage that runs through the chimney and allows smoke and combustion gases to escape outside. While locating the flue, remember that there may be different types of flues depending on the type of fireplace or stove you have. For example, a masonry fireplace may have a clay tile flue liner, while a prefabricated fireplace may have a metal flue pipe.

2. Check for any obstructions:

The first step is to inspect the damper and ensure it is not blocked or obstructed. Check for any obstructions that could block the flow of air and smoke through the chimney. Debris or soot buildup on the damper can prevent it from opening or closing properly. If there is any buildup, use a brush or vacuum to remove it.

Next, look into the chimney to see any obstructions, such as bird nests, leaves, or other debris. If you see any obstructions, do not use the fireplace until they have been cleared away. Obstructions can cause smoke to back into the room, a serious fire hazard. Even if you don’t see any visible obstructions, there could still be a creosote buildup in the chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that can build up over time and increase the risk of chimney fires.

3. Open the damper:

A damper is usually located on the front or side of the fireplace and should be visible when you look up. Pull or push the lever or handle attached to the damper to open it. You may need to use a bit of force to get it to move, especially if it hasn’t been used in a while. Once you’ve opened the damper, you should be able to feel a draft of air moving up the chimney. It indicates that the damper is open and the flue is unobstructed. You can then light a fire and enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your fireplace.

4. Check the flue:

After opening the damper, you must check the flue to ensure it is fully open. To do this, you should look up the chimney from the fireplace. If the flue is fully open, you should be able to see up to the sky. The flue may be partially or fully blocked if you cannot see the sky. It can be a serious fire hazard and needs to be addressed before using the fireplace. If you see any debris, such as bird nests, leaves, or soot buildup, you should not use the fireplace until the flue is cleared.

5. Test for proper airflow:

After you’ve checked the flue and opened the damper, the next step is to test for proper airflow to ensure the chimney is functioning correctly. Light a small newspaper and hold it up to the fireplace’s opening. If the smoke from the newspaper is being drawn up and out of the chimney, this is a good indication that the flue is open and there are no obstructions.

6. Close the damper:

Closing the damper when you’re finished using the fireplace is essential to prevent drafts and energy loss. To do this, wait for the fire to go out completely before closing the damper. It will prevent any residual smoke or gases from entering the room.

Are a flue and a damper the same thing?

Many people make the mistake of confusing the flue and the damper. Your fireplace flue is the pathway inside your chimney that carries smoke and gases from your fireplace into the open air. It’s an essential fireplace component and must function correctly to work safely.

In contrast, the damper is a metal panel positioned at the top or bottom of the flue, serving as a valve to regulate the airflow within the flue. Dampers also keep debris and water out of the fireplace, preventing any damage from affecting your fireplace. Not all fireplaces have a damper, and installing one in your fireplace is still a wise investment if it doesn’t have one. Dampers can help keep your fireplace in good condition, regulate the airflow within the flue, and enable you to seal off the chimney when not in use.

Keep the damper open to prevent smoke from entering your room. Also, it would be best to leave it open until all embers have been extinguished, as there is still a risk of carbon monoxide and smoke entering your home.


Opening a fireplace flue is necessary to ensure your fireplace’s safety and functionality. It includes locating the damper, checking for any obstructions, and fully opening it to allow proper airflow. Checking the flue and testing for proper airflow is also important to ensure that smoke and gases are correctly drawn out of the chimney. Finally, close the damper when you’re finished using the fireplace to prevent drafts and energy loss. By following these steps, you can enjoy the warmth and coziness of a fire in your fireplace without any safety concerns.

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