How Does a Damper Work on an Oil Fired Furnace?


An oil-fired furnace is part of a forced-air heating system. This system burns oil in a combustion chamber to heat the air. A damper adds to the safety and efficiency of such a system, as it prevents loss of heat and can protect the burner as well. Oil fired furnaces are more commonly used in geographical locations with limited supply of natural gas.

The Basic Oil-fired Furnace

  • In its simplest form, a basic oil-fired furnace is part of a forced-air heating system used in buildings and offices in regions where natural gas is rare and/or expensive. The system incorporates a burner that is fed by oil sourced from a storage tank. This burner discharges into a combustion chamber that is located in a furnace. From the furnace, the heat that is produced diffuses into a heat exchanger. A circulating fan passes cold house air over this exchanger to warm the air up. This warmed air is then sent through vents in order to warm up the house or building.


  • Dampers are valves that are used to control the movement of air that is allowed into the furnace. Older oil-fired furnaces and heating systems may not incorporate dampers, so those seeking to retrofit older systems and increase their heating capacity while reducing overall heating expenditures should consider doing so by having dampers installed. Depending on the type of damper, they can reduce the incidence of wasted heat and increase overall heating and cost efficiency.

Vent Dampers

  • A vent or flue damper is one type of damper that can be retrofitted to an older furnace. This kind of damper can be added on to a boiler vent and can shut when the boiler is inactive in order to reduce energy losses. The bigger the boiler, the more it can benefit from the addition of a vent or flue damper, as the larger the boiler, the greater the potential energy loss through an open boiler vent.

Barometric Flue Dampers

  • A barometric flue damper can help homeowners reduce heat loss by reducing or eliminating any excess heat that may be going up the chimney instead of out to the heat exchanger and then to the house. It acts as a mixing valve in the flue pipe and, in addition to reducing or eliminating excess heat, also protects the burner from pressure changes at the chimney exit. By doing so, it not only adds to efficiency but also helps improve safety as well.


  • The various kinds of dampers, whether retrofitted to older furnaces or part and parcel of newer ones, can go a very long way towards reducing energy costs. Older furnaces and heating systems are far from efficient and those who operate such systems may be paying too much in order to heat their houses and buildings. Retrofitting older systems with dampers can go a long way towards driving costs down and increasing energy efficiency.

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