Why would anyone C clamp open all the fireplace flues?

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I asked in the old thread a few days ago, but nobody saw it so I'm reposting this question.
Why would anyone C clamp open all the fireplace flues?
When I tried to open the flue before lighting the fire, I noticed that the handle to open and close the flue didn't move. It was stuck in place.
http://imageshack.us/a/img809/3208/fireplacegaslighting52.jpg
I didn't realize there was a special C clamp on the flue plate until I went to the other fireplace, which looks like it has never been used.
http://imageshack.us/a/img577/3785/fireplacegaslighting67.jpg
There, I saw the same strange C clamp only without the black soot:
http://imageshack.us/a/img560/2425/fireplacegaslighting68.jpg
Why would anyone C clamp all the fireplace flues open? Should I just remove the clamps?
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Those are dampers, not flues. The flue is the passageway for the exhaust gases to leave the house. The mechanism that opens and closes it is the damper.
Possibly due to a knuckleheaded family member who lights fires without checking the damper first. Or possibly due to laziness -- easier to just keep it open all the time, especially if the fireplace is used frequently.
Another possibility is that the house is tight enough that an open damper in a fireplace *not* in use is necessary to supply sufficient combustion air to one that *is* in use -- could be that none of them will draw properly unless there's at least one more open damper somewhere.

At least, remove them long enough to find out if the dampers operate properly, and the fireplaces will draw properly with the unused one(s) closed. If they do, and if you can remember to check them before lighting a fire, there's no reason to keep them all open if the fireplaces draw properly otherwise.
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Dats a tight house indeed. Mine is like a sieve. I don't think HD nationwide has enough caulk or Great Stuff.... which is not so great, imo....
--
EA


>
>> Should I just remove the clamps?
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External Angst:
Been up in your attic lately? If you live north of DC anywhere in the country you should have at least 12-18" of fiberglass insulation in the floor of that attic. The door or stair/hatch into that attic should also be weatherstripped.
Heat rises - stop it in it's tracks! :)
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Doug Miller wrote:

Thanks for the clarification on the damper. I didn't know if the clamp was a safety feature or what. I'll remove the clamnps to see what happens with the air.
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On 12/25/2012 4:37 PM, Jim wrote:

If by "see what happens," you mean you're gonna instrument it under different wind direction/speeds and fire conditions, that's great. If not, make sure your CO detectors work and your exit strategy is rehearsed.
My fireplace is capped, 'cause I don't use it.
The range vent hood can pull a 5 Pascal vacuum on the inside.
I'd be nervous about a smoldering fire with negative pressure.
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mike wrote:

I was just gonna 'look' at the fire.
What else 'can' I do to figure out WHY the dampers are all locked open?
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On 12/25/2012 8:36 PM, Jim wrote:

Mine has little clamps that come with them. I figured it was to make sure they stayed open so you don't kill anyone.
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replying to gonjah , steveg wrote:

The fireplace damper needs to have a clamp on it so it will NOT close all the way and jeapordize lives due to people commonly leaving the damper shut and running their gas logs. Carbon monoxide is very deadly. In California you cannot sell a house without a clamp on your damper to keep it open some.
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On 12/25/2012 6:36 PM, Jim wrote:

Executive summary: "curiosity killed the cat!" The only rational reason to ask a question is if your future depends on the answer. Your only future option is to close the vents. If you're not gonna risk closing the vents, the why is irrelevant.
The only way to get an accurate answer is to locate the person who locked 'em and ask.
But you're asking the wrong question. The question you probably want is, "what happens if I close one or more of them?"
Pondering why they're locked open is preferable to pondering why your kids died in their sleep while you were experimenting.
There's lots of stuff done to make sure that it's never a problem under the worst imaginable conditions. Your experiments likely won't cover all those bases. But it's very likely that you won't die...maybe...probably...except in that rare case when you do.
If you're burning wood, I'd be worried. If it's a properly adjusted gas flame with outside combustion air, it's a lot safer. Heck, 50 years ago we used to heat with open-flame gas and no vents at all. Wonder if there's any correlation between that and the fact that I can't remember what I had for breakfast.
If you're gonna muck with the heating system combustion products, don't just guess. Get the tools and MEASURE it.
Anybody who suggests it's OK to close vents based on the little information you've provided is being irresponsible.
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I would et a PRO to camera inspect all the flues, and explain the dampers locked open...
for your safety!!!
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On 12-25-2012 22:27, mike wrote:

If he suggested closing them while _using_ the fireplace, I'd be very concerned. But I find it hard to imagine a significant hazard from closing the damper on a fireplace NOT in use.
--
Wes Groleau

“Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity.
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On 12/25/2012 8:30 PM, Wes Groleau wrote:

Closing the damper on a fireplace not in use restricts air flow into the space.
I haven't had a fire since I sealed the place, but based on the pressure measurements, I'm certain that if I unblocked the chimney and turned on the kitchen exhaust fan, it'd suck smoke down the chimney.
Like I said...closing a damper is not a problem...until it is. Where death is involved, you wanna be very sure.
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On 12-25-2012 23:42, mike wrote:

How is there going to be any smoke in the chimney of a fireplace that is not in use? And how can what happens when you open a damper prove that closing the damper may be dangerous?

--
Wes Groleau

¡Qué quiero realmente hacer es comer un perrito caliente!
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On 12/26/2012 9:03 PM, Wes Groleau wrote:

There's been a lot of conjecture and snippage in this thread. Suggest you go back to the beginning and read it all.
About the only FACT we know is the current configuration of the house hasn't killed the current resident yet.
I can tell you that in MY house, based on differential pressure and infiltration measurements, I would not consider building a fire without opening a window somewhere. And if someone turned on the range hood, the bathroom fan or the clothes dryer there'd be smoke everywhere.
As a practical matter, a typical house that met code when built and hadn't been changed, probably has a lot of slack. You could probably close vents with impunity up until the point where that unfortunate confluence of conditions set the place on fire or killed your kids while they slept. Your house, your kids, your choice.
My choice was to seal the place up tight, build a heat-recovery ventilator and never build a fire again.

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On 12-27-2012 00:41, mike wrote:

I read it all. He said "unused fireplaces" and was warned "don't close them"
I suggested that while closing the damper in an unused fireplace might not be ideal, it is certainly not dangerous.
You countered by suggesting that _opening_ a damper might cause smoke to be sucked into the house.
I suggested that you won't find much smoke in an unused fireplace, and that if there were smoke there, _opening_ a damper would not cause the undefined hazard warned about from _closing_ it.
Whereupon you suggested I read the whole thread and repeated the same nonsequitur.
--
Wes Groleau

A bureaucrat is someone who cuts red tape lengthwise.
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On 12/25/2012 3:00 PM, Doug Miller wrote:

A house we own in Redmond, Oregon has a big stone fireplace with glass doors in the front. The year we moved there we had a big fire in the fireplace during a winter storm. About 5 degrees, snowing hard and big wind from the South. One big gust of wind blew open the glass doors and slammed shut the damper. Guess where the smoke and flames went? We were in the room and I quickly grabbed a stick of firewood and got the damper open and doors closed.
Got a piece of wire and managed to wire the damper open.
Later I fabricated a stainless steel latch on the damper handle to hold it either open or closed. No further problems. The heavy wooden mantle showed signs that this had happened before.
In my experience, dampers should ALWAYS have some positive latching/locking mechanism.
Paul
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You asked: "Guess where the smoke and flames went?"
Here's my story:
A friend of mine moved into a renovated farmhouse. Most of the first floor was a huge living room/dining room combination. In the living room area they had a large fireplace. In the dining room area they had a coal buring stove. They moved in during the fall and the coal buring stove had been doing a great job of heating the downstairs, although thay had to feed it 3 times a day to keep it going.
We went over their house for their first Christmas party, which was also the first time they built a roaring blaze in the open fireplace. As we were sitting watching the fire, we noticed it getting colder and colder in the house. My friend went over to the coal stove and noticed that the temperature had dropped dramatically.
In an effort to see what was going on, he open the door to the stove. Guess where the massive amount of coal dust went?
As it turned out, the fireplace was drawing air down the coal stove flue and putting out the coal. When he opened the door to the coal stove, the draft blew the dust all over him, all over the dining room area and half way out into the living room. 3 or 4 people were basically covered with soot. My friend looked like an old time actor wearing blackface. It's a good thing he was wearing glasses, although when he took them off he looked even funnier.
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Damn good thing the fire in the coal stove was out before that coal dust got dispersed -- otherwise there could (would?) have been a massive explosion.
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On 12/27/2012 4:15 PM, Doug Miller wrote: ...

It wouldn't have been unburnt pulverized coal but ash/soot...
But the likelihood of a coal dust explosion in an unconstrained volume such as that even w/ pulverized coal would be near zero. Like other situations (grain dust, wood chips, etc.) there's a fairly narrow range that will allow such to happen. (Spent many years working w/ pulverized coal in power plants developing online instrumentation systems to measure the mass flow rate of PC in individual burner pipes from the pulverizer outlets to aid in balancing and thereby lower NOx and raise efficiency).
--
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