Fireplace #21: Vestal Damper with Center Handle and Low Flue Tile

These Vestal Dampers are very common in masonry fireplaces of solid brick or stone. These are their characteristics of Vestal dampers:

  • They have a long rectangular cast iron damper door.
  • The door has a 16″ long curved cast iron handle sticking down from the center of the damper door.
  • The handle has saw teeth on the back, and a loop on the end.
  • The shaft of the handle sticks through a metal bracket that is attached to the damper frame.

The nice thing about these Vestal dampers is they are very easy to disassemble. This is so chimney sweeps can get easy access to the smoke chamber for cleaning. In this particular application you can see through the damper opening. The flue tile terminates a vertical distant of about 16″ above the damper. This makes for a very short smoke chamber, and easy access to the flue tile. That makes the flue tile an ideal location to plug. If you have a Vestal Damper, but your flue tile is higher and out of reach by hand, see the article about Vestal dampers with high flue tiles.

If you want to plug it and forget it, use the Flueblocker

If you don’t use your fireplace very much and you just want a way to plug the flue for a long duration, go with a Flueblocker. Here is a video on how the Flueblocker works. You will need to take a quick measurement of the flue tile with a ruler (Image 21-4). Then buy a Flueblocker that size, or a little large for the hole. The Flueblocker is a wool pad with extra hems, so you can trim it to size with sharp scissors. The handle on the Flueblocker is only 1 foot long, so you may want some 6″ handle extenders for your Flueblocker to make it easier to stuff in the flue tile.

What about the Chimney Balloon?

21-6 Chimney Balloon in Flue Tile

21-6 Chimney Balloon in Flue Tile

You can use a Chimney Balloon to plug a low flue like this. You would need to get a measurement of the length and width of the flue tile first (image 21-4), so you will know what size Chimney Balloon to use. Flue tiles generally take a 12×12 or 15×15. Also purchase a HEK handle extender to give the handle some extra length to reach the flue tile (image 21-6). The Chimney Balloon will require a top-off of air each 6 to 12 months, and it is not quite as durable as the other two options above. So consider it a “Plan B” for this application.