What’s the Difference Between a Chimney Cap and a Damper?

So, you’re wondering about the difference between chimney caps and chimney dampers? There’s a big difference, but as per usual the confusion is in the use of the terms.

chimney cap in Poolesville MDChimney Dampers

A damper is a device which slows down the flow of smoke. In the case of fireplaces, it also slows down the heated house air from going up the chimney. This is the main purpose of a fireplace damper.

Chimney Cap

A rain cap, a chimney cover or an animal guard is something that mounts over the top of the flue. It helps to keep rain and animals out. While you can get a cover made out of ordinary steel, don’t. You absolutely want a stainless steel chimney cover because the other ones rust. A cap also usually has some sort of screen to prevent birds and animals out as it keeps the rain out.

A chimney cap does not stop the flow of air/smoke in the flue. There is nothing to operate; they just sit on top of the chimney and keep rain out. Caps are usually called chimney caps and that pretty well sums it up for them.

Top-Sealing Dampers

So let’s talk about Top-Sealing dampers. These dampers do in fact mount to the top of the chimney; in this way they are the same as caps, and this of course is where the confusion comes from.

Chimney damper in Fulton MD

The top-sealing damper is a device with a base for mounting on the flue tile and it has a lid which lifts up and down to block smoke, which also helps to keep rain out. The lid is held up by strong springs and it’s natural position is open. The lid has a stainless steel cable attached to it which runs through the chimney and mounts to the side wall of the fireplace below.

Within the fireplace, the damper cable has a handle and the mounting bracket is made in such a way as to hold varying degrees of openness. This openness ranges from fully open to completely closed. To operate the damper just grab the handle and pull it into the position you want it to be in.

Is there any further confusion about chimney caps or chimney dampers? Share your responses below.