A woodstove is an efficient and economic alternative to a traditional fireplace. It allows a homeowner to receive non utility-based heating from a renewable resource that provides an attractive flame. Woodstoves can be freestanding or inserted in existing fireplaces and vented through the chimney. Like traditional fireplaces, they have dampers and these components can experience problems.
Though there are many models, woodstoves are categorized into a few basic types and each may experience similar mechanical problems. Each stove has some type of damper, a metal disc inserted inside a bypass duct or stovepipe exiting the stove. A damper is usually located approximately 12 to 18 inches from the stove, prior to the spot where the pipe exits into a chimney, if present.
The damper retains heat that escapes up the chimney or flue. It allows this heat to dissipate into the area being heated by the woodstove. A damper should always be fully opened when starting a fire or adding wood to the stove, allowing the firebox to draw the most air. Closing the damper restricts the airflow, releasing exhaust smoke and heat.
If the handle of a bypass damper moves but the damper remains stuck in the open or shut position, a component leading from the damper handle to the damper blade may be loose, disconnected, or broken. Another possibility is that the damper blade warped, broke, or became unseated so the linkage cannot engage the blade.
If a bypass or pipe damper handle becomes stuck, do not force it because bending or breaking it could create a larger problem. The damper blade may be warped, the linkage may be damaged, creosote and soot may have built up in the pipe, or an adjustable internal device could be too tight, causing the damper to become stuck. A professional should address the issue before further damage results.