fireplace damper set to not close

I bought my house in December and am just now getting to poke around. I have two fireplaces -- a smaller one with a rectangular flue and damper that fully closes and appears to seal very well.
The larger fireplace (48"W x 32"H) has a round flue and damper that has a threaded "adjustment rod" that will not let the damper close. As set currently, it only allows the damper to be set at about a 45 degree angle. I had a $140 natural gas bill last month (in Southern California) and am thinking that I probably am trying to heat Palos Verdes with hot air escaping out my flue.
Both fireplaces have glass doors that fit quite well, but I can feel the draft from the flue on the larger fireplace when the damper is closed as far as the adjustment rod permits (again, open it is at 90 degrees and closed it is about 45 degrees).
The thing that puzzles me is that the rod does not look like it can be adjusted down any more than its current position.
Any reason why the damper would be adjusted so it cannot close? (this is my first experiences with owning fireplaces). I am thinking about just removing the adjustment rod so that the flue can fully close, but I do not want to violate code or cause a fire, etc.
best,
old dirtbeard
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Ahhh... I did some skulking on the web, and see that in some communities they will not allow you to close the damper on a fireplace anymore. I think that this must be the case on the one fireplace. I bought the house in December and they may have had to put this "clamp" on to prevent the damper from closing.
While I was working on it, the clamp "fell off" (wink, wink), and now I don't think I know how to put it back on again. :)
I think my flue not closing mystery has been solved.
old dirtbeard

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I put a gas log (propane) in my fireplace in Arizona and the kit came with the clamp to prevent the damper closing. Was supposed to be a requirement for gas logs...at least for propane. But my clamp only required a very small opening when closed. Maybe they put the clamp on backward or something. Reminds me of the time I started a wood fire in the fireplace for my wife to enjoy while lying on the couch, her leg in a cast from a car accident. I left for work but forgot to open the damper. Lucky for her, my aunt only lived a few houses away and was able to run down and open the damper. I still hear about my attempt to asphyxiate her, 30 years later. Tom G.
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> I put a gas log (propane) in my fireplace in Arizona and the kit came with

ROFL. nice one.
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we had a fire in our (LENNOX woodburning insert) fireplace. the flue was open, or so we thought!
the house filled with smoke! (no glass doors at the time)
i called the installation guy, and was told that the LENNOX inserts were having trouble with the flue only opening about 45degrees. this COULD HAVE been a disaster. they tell me that LENNOX has been notified, but has not responded. in the meantime, my fireplace guy knew exactly how to fix the problem and we have smoke free fires now.
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I have a gas log fireplace that I use seldomly. My damper was warped and not working well just because it was old overused. The glass door helped some, but the fireplace was still drafty and cold in the winter. I tried a few things to plug the chimney but I bought a Chimney Balloon online from this place in Wisconsin www.chimneyballoon.us
I did try stuffing some fiberglass before i tried the balloon, but that was pretty itchy to remove when I wanted a fire. I probubly use it 6 times in a winter, when company is over.
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The reason that the damper is supposed to be propped open is for 2 reasons: 1. If there is a gas leak with no fire, the gas will be drawn up the flue via the natural draft, rather than drift into living quarters and 2. If the damper is left closed on a wood burning fireplace, the smoke in the room will let you know. With the gas fireplace, the 'smoke' is not sufficient to let you know that the damper is closed.
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and in my case, the flue problem was a design error of LENOX!
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