Need a Lock-Top Damper? Highpoint Chimney Can Get Yours Installed

In the world of chimneys, you have a lot of options. Masonry or prefabricated? Gas-fueled or wood-burning? Is an electric or pellet option better for you? Would you prefer a copper cap or a stainless steel one? What type of relining job would best suit your needs?

That said, for a long time, when it came to dampers, there was just one choice – throat dampers. And while these have been doing an adequate job keeping systems safer for years, there’s a better option now available.

Consider upgrading to a lock-top damper, so you can start reaping all of the many benefits (like leak prevention, improved efficiency, heightened protection, and more) that they have to offer. If you’re in the Hillsborough area, our team of certified sweeps is here to help every step of the way.

What Is a Lock-Top Damper? How Does a Lock-Top Damper Work?

Dampers, in general, are devices designed to help regulate air flow for your fireplace. They work to give smoke and fumes an open pathway to escape when fires are lit, then seal up tight to keep your home protected and temperature-controlled when your fireplace isn’t in use.

Now, most chimneys are equipped with throat dampers, which are installed right above the firebox. Lock-top dampers are a more modern option that seal up your flue at the top, rather than the throat. They’re known for offering a tighter seal, while keeping outside debris and animals out right at the source. They also keep your flue warmer during the cooler months of the year, which can minimize smoke backup when starting your fires.

So, how do these components work?

Essentially, when the damper is closed, it forms a tight seal over the top of the chimney, preventing cold air, rain, snow, leaves, twigs, and animals from entering the chimney. This top-sealing feature also helps to keep the home more energy-efficient, ensuring warm or conditioned air (depending on the season) can’t escape out and cause an increase in your monthly bills.

To open a lock-top damper, the homeowner pulls on a cable or chain that runs down the inside of the chimney and into the home. When you’d like to put your fireplace to use, simply pull on the cable or chain to open the damper, and get your flames going! Any smoke or other byproducts of combustion will be able to safely exit, so you can use your system with peace of mind. Just be sure to close things up again once your fire is out.

What Is the Difference Between a Lock-Top Damper & a Throat Damper?

Since lock-top dampers and throat dampers are both in the damper family, they do serve similar functions. For instance, both will open and close with a lever or cable, so that the homeowner can create a clear path for smoke when they’re lighting fires, then seal things back up when they’re not. That said, they do have distinct differences as well.

Lock-Top Dampers

  • Sit on top of the chimney, sealing it off from the outside
  • Open with a cable or chain that runs down the inside of the chimney
  • Less prone to corrosion than throat options
  • Seal with a rubber gasket
  • Highly effective at preventing drafts and energy loss
  • Provide protection against animals and debris entering the chimney
  • Protect against downdrafts
  • Keep your flue warmer when not in use

Throat Dampers

  • Sit at the base of the chimney, just above the firebox
  • Can be opened or closed using a lever or knob inside the fireplace
  • Are more prone to corrosion and rust
  • Can experience air leaks, due to metal-on-masonry seal
  • Tend to invite more energy loss and drafting

In the end, lock-top dampers tend to win out in terms of performance and protection, which is why so many opt for the upgrade nowadays. All that said, throat options can still do an effective job when properly maintained and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

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How Do You Install a Lock-Top Damper?

Ready to take the plunge and upgrade your throat damper to a lock-top style? Great – let’s cover some basic questions about the installation process.

Is installation something to hire a pro for or can a homeowner do it themselves?

Yes, it’s technically possible to climb onto your roof and get the job done without professional help. But if you’re uncertain about any aspect of the installation process (or if heights are a problem for you), hiring an expert will always be the better route. Otherwise you may face issues later on if a step was missed or done incorrectly.

Our techs have the necessary equipment and expertise to get the job done as safely and as efficiently as possible. Because of our training, we can also ensure everything is in compliance with local codes and regulations.

What can you expect from a lock-top damper installation job?

Here’s what you can expect when you hire our techs to complete this process.

  • Selecting the damper. Before beginning anything else, make sure you’re purchasing a damper that will fit your flue properly. This is another reason why trusting a professional can be extremely helpful. A wrongly-sized chimney part isn’t going to do you much good.
  • Removing the old damper. Your existing damper will need to be removed before you can install the lock-top damper. This may involve removing screws or bolts that hold the old damper in place, which will require the use of basic tools.
  • Cleaning the chimney. When you hire a pro for the job, they can ensure your system is thoroughly swept before moving forward – and that any damages are addressed ahead of time, as well.
  • Installing the new damper. The new damper should be positioned correctly (making sure everything is level and centered), then properly secured with the appropriate mounting brackets or fasteners.
  • Installing the cable or chain. Once the damper is in, you’ll need a way to operate it. The cable or chain will need to be run down the inside of the chimney and through a mounting bracket or other mechanism near your fireplace.
  • Testing the damper. When the job is complete, the final thing to do is make sure your new chimney damper works. Sometimes, minor adjustments will need to be made to the cable or chain to ensure efficient functioning.

With the lock-top damper installed, you can now enjoy a more energy-efficient and secure chimney. When you’re ready to use your fireplace, simply pull the cable or chain, and you’re good to go!

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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Lock-Top Damper?

Giving a price for anything chimney-related right upfront isn’t best practice, so if a company is guaranteeing a super low price for any service before getting the specifics on your setup, proceed with caution. It’s likely they’re trying to lure you to get you to pay more for something else later on.

We’re not about that, which is why we’d rather talk with you about current needs and unique situation before moving forward with any estimates. There are a variety of factors that can affect the final cost of your lock-top damper installation job, so offering a list of prices here really wouldn’t give you an accurate answer. We’d rather you call us up, so we can move forward from there.

Keep in mind, though, that compared to traditional throat dampers, lock-top options do tend to be on the higher end of the pricing scale. That said, they seal better, offer better protection, and can help keep your energy bills in check better than their lower-level counterparts, so that’s all important to keep in mind.

What can affect the cost of my installation?

  • the size of the damper
  • the size/type of the chimney
  • how easy/complex the installation is
  • how accessible your chimney is
  • whether your chimney needs repairs or cleanings

Reach out now, so we can ask the questions we need to learn more about your chimney, then give us a much more accurate estimate. We’re here for you.

How Do You Close a Lock-Top Damper?

First things first, make sure that your fire is completely out before trying to shut your damper. Many hope that, by closing the damper, their fire won’t get the oxygen it needs to stay lit, and it will be extinguished faster. This isn’t safe, and it can easily invite smoke and other fumes into your home, causing damage, inviting odors, and affecting your indoor air quality.

Once everything is out and your embers are cooled, simply follow these steps.

  1. Locate the cable or chain that operates the damper. It should be inside your home, near the fireplace opening or just inside of the firebox.
  2. Pull the cable or chain downwards to close the damper. Sometimes, this requires a little bit of force, but it shouldn’t be unmanageable. If your chain appears stuck, give us a call.
  3. Once the damper is closed, check to make sure that it is fully sealed. You can do this by shining a flashlight up the chimney and looking for any visible gaps or openings.
  4. If the damper is not fully sealed, you may need to adjust the cable or chain to ensure that it is fully closed. Repeat the process until the damper is fully sealed.

If you’ve run through the steps and your damper doesn’t seem to be shutting appropriately, call in a tech right away to look things over. Any number of things can cause a damper to fail (such as incorrect installation, damage, animal tampering, clogs in the chimney, and more), and the sooner we can assess your situation, the sooner we can find a solution.

How Do You Tell If Your Damper Is Open or Closed?

Is my damper open…? Or… not? If you’re getting ready to start a fire, having an open damper is a must. Or maybe you’re about to turn on your A/C, and you’re worried your damper isn’t securely shut. Either way, we’ve got some tips to confirm its current state.

  • Check the controls: The chain or lever that controls your firebox should be in a certain position when your damper is closed and another position when open. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for more info, then compare it with your controls’ current position.
  • Shine a flashlight in your flue: Whether your damper is on the top of your flue or near the bottom, you should be able to see it when you shine a flashlight up the chimney – and you’ll then be able to note if it’s open or closed.
  • Check for airflow: Do you feel a breeze coming from your flue? If your damper is closed, you shouldn’t be! On the flip side, if you’re getting ready to light a fire, then feeling some airflow is a good sign.

Hopefully this helps. If not, or if you think your damper is stuck in one position or the other, then give us a call. We’ll look things over and make sure your system is operating as it should be.

Should a Fireplace Damper Be at the Top or Bottom?

At Highpoint Chimney Services, we can install dampers that go on the top of your system or on the bottom. We’ve talked top-lock dampers up a lot on this page, but the truth is that either option is a suitable choice – it’s just about what you prefer, what type is most compatible with your chimney, and what your budget looks like.

We’re all about working with options that are best for you. So, reach out with questions and let us help you get your chimney where it needs to be.

Pick Up the Phone & Give Us a Call

Our experts are here to meet your needs. We’re a full-service chimney company serving Middlesex, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties, and we’d be happy to handle your masonry repairs, leak prevention services, installation needs, and more. There’s not much we aren’t equipped to tackle.

If you need assistance or have questions you need answered, the time to reach out is now. Simply give us a call at 908-864-4114 to speak with a member of our team, or you can reach out to us online and we’ll be in touch. Thanks for trusting our customer-minded crew for all of your chimney and fireplace needs.


Let us check on the health of your chimney damper to see if it’s doing its job. It could make a difference in your need for chimney leak repairs.