Ceiling Radiation Damper vs. Fire Damper: What You Should Know

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Protecting your home or building from the risk of fire damage is essential. Enlisting licensed contractors’ expertise helps ensure the safety of your family, co-workers, and tenants should an emergency arise. By installing various passive fire protection products, your home or building becomes a safer place for all. While many dampers exist, each plays a different role in your HVAC system. Our team at Lloyd Industries would like to offer you a better understanding of fire dampers versus ceiling radiation dampers. Let’s take a look at their specific uses to help determine your fire protection needs.

There are various passive fire protection products that help protect buildings and people against smoke and flames in the event of an emergency. The most popular types are fire dampers, smoke dampers, and combination fire-smoke dampers. Ceiling radiation dampers play an equally important role in the safety and protection of your structure.

However, since ceiling radiation dampers serve a somewhat different purpose than the other damper types, there is often confusion about where ceiling radiation dampers are  used and if they are a necessary part of fire protection safety.  To better understand these dampers, let’s examine the protection provided by each type of damper.


Types of Dampers

There are four types of dampers and each plays their role in fire protection.

  1. Fire dampers resist the passage of flames.
  2. Smoke dampers resist the passage of smoke.
  3. Combination fire-smoke dampers resist the passage of flames and smoke.
  4. Ceiling radiation dampers ,when installed in the ceiling membrane of a fire-resistance-rated floor-ceiling or roof-ceiling assembly, limit the transfer of radiant heat into concealed spaces.


What is a Fire Damper?

Fire dampers, found in two styles, are intended to help protect your home or building by preventing flames from entering your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). The ductwork of your HVAC system helps transport warm and cool airflow throughout your space. However, these connections could pose a dangerous outlet if flames and smoke gain access in the case of a fire. This duct access would allow easy access to fire throughout the connected rooms.  

Spring-loaded fire dampers assist in an emergency by closing off areas at-risk. By triggering the blades in the fire damper, they signal them to shut off access points to prevent the spread of flames to a new space. This action helps prevent the spread of fire by containing it to the location it originated in.

A combination fire-smoke damper works similarly while also preventing the spread of smoke throughout the HVAC unit’s ductwork.  This style of damper provides extra protection, as smoke may contain fatal, toxic gases.


Fire Damper Codes and Fire Ratings

Fire dampers are manufactured in multiple shapes and sizes to accommodate all spaces but they’re all made of galvanized steel. It’s best to familiarize yourself with your area’s building codes before purchasing or installing dampers. Ensure you are protecting your structure with the required size, style, and fire rating requirements to meet these safety codes.

Installing a damper with the proper fire rating for your structure’s needs is crucial. Fire ratings are determined by various factors, including an object’s ability to withstand a fire’s intensity for any length of time without significant impact.


Two Types of Fire Dampers:

Your HVAC’s response to a fire is determined by the type of fire damper you install.

The two styles of fire dampers to consider for your structure are

  1. dynamic fire damper: air will continue to flow throughout your HVAC
  2. static fire damper: detection of smoke or a fire alarm will trigger the fans to shut dow


How Do Dynamic Fire Dampers Work?

Dynamic fire dampers are designed for buildings where the HVAC system’s fans remain on during an emergency, requiring them to be powerful enough to close in an emergency against moving air. Dynamic fire dampers are usually installed within the vertical barriers of your HVAC system. If a fire should be detected, the HVAC system will continue to operate where these fire dampers are installed. This fire damper style is spring-loaded and will utilize their built-in fans, which turn on and activate the spring-loaded system during a fire.


How Do Static Fire Dampers Work?

Similarly, static fire dampers close to prevent the passage of flames upon the detection of fire.  Typically, your building’s fire alarm system will trigger the static fire damper. The damper closes, which prevents additional air from passing through the HVAC system. Preventing oxygen flow from reaching and fueling is a vital component of the static fire dampers. This style can significantly reduce the spread of flames, reducing damage to your structure in the event of an emergency.


What is a Ceiling Radiation Damper?

Unlike spring-loaded smoke and fire dampers, ceiling dampers help limit heat transfer into attic space and openings within ceilings and floors. By preventing the transfer of flames and heat into your attic and crawlspaces, ceiling dampers help reduce the potential damage your structure may sustain in the event of a fire.

Larger building structures, including hospitals, hotels, and multi-unit apartment buildings, are designed as multiple spaces that typically share one attic space. If a fire should occur in one room, there is always the possibility it can break through to the ceiling. The rapid spread across multiple rooms could be devastating. Ceiling dampers are designed to help prevent such an occurrence.


How Do Ceiling Dampers Work? 

Ceiling dampers are designed to close at the detection of intense heat or the activation of a fire detection system. The spring-loaded fire dampers and ceiling dampers will close regardless of the amount of air pressure. This action is critical if the HVAC system remains on during a fire. Hospitals and similar facilities require continuous airflow to continue the circulation of fresh air throughout areas that are not at risk. Combining spring-loaded fire dampers, a fire-resistant ceiling membrane, and ceiling dampers helps protect your structure against maximum spread and destruction.

Help ensure the integrity of your home or building with the installation of fire and ceiling dampers.