How do I Fix a Damper That is Not Opening?


If you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove in your home, then you most likely have a chimney with a damper. The damper is a valve or metal plate that opens the flue, which allows you to safely operate your fireplace or stove. The damper must be opened before you begin lighting a fire, otherwise the smoke will not be able to ascend up the chimney, and will fill your home with smoke. You should make sure your damper is in good working order before using your fireplace or stove, and learn how to fix the damper if it will not open.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Cotton tipped applicators
  • Lubricant
  • Newspaper
  • Professional chimney sweep
  • Flashlight
  • Screwdriver (if needed)
  • Clean and lubricate the damper handle. The damper handle may not want to slide or turn because of soot or other grime that has settled in its guide track. Use an old rag and some cotton tipped applicators to clean out the dirt inside the handle's guide tracks. If your damper handle simply pushes straight up, then wipe down the handle with your rag. Spray some lubricant along the handle and track to ensure it slides smoothly. Place a newspaper underneath the damper handle to prevent the lubricant runoff from settling in the fireplace.

  • Hire a professional to clean out your chimney. A professional chimney sweep will perform a thorough cleaning of the entire chimney. The damper may be blocked by debris that has fallen down into the chimney. Even if you used the chimney the previous year, it could have become obstructed during the spring and summer months. Dead animals, animal nests, leaves, sticks, and even bricks from the chimney itself can all fall down into the chimney and jam the damper.

  • Check the damper hinges. Shine a flashlight up into the chimney so you can clearly see the damper blade. You should see tabs from the damper blade that should fit into holes inside the chimney. These act as hinges for the damper, and sometimes the damper can pop out of the the holes. If this happens, the damper may partially open, or may not open at all. Try to push the edge of the damper back into the hole in the chimney. If you cannot reach the holes, use a broom handle or the handle of a screwdriver to push the damper back into it's slot. If you still cannot push the damper back into place, call a chimney repair specialist.

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  • Photo Credit Christmas Stockings by Fireplace image by Mary Beth Granger from
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