Should I Clean My Fire Dampers?

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As we migrate to the winter months, there are a lot of questions lingering about your HVAC system and how best to care for it throughout the changing weather. For example, fire dampers prevent fire and smoke from spreading in a house or building fire. So, let’s discuss all you need to know about fire dampers.

What is a Fire Damper?

Fire Dampers are passive fire protection products used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts that prevent the spread of fire inside the ductwork. While the standard thought for fire safety includes smoke detectors, fire blankets, fire alarms, and extinguishers, fire dampers play a crucial role, which is often overlooked.

How Does a Fire Damper Work?

Fire dampers begin working when a room temperature rises to around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The damper has a fusible link that will melt, closing its door. Once the door closes, it prevents the spread of fire, keeping damage to a minimum. Fire dampers are also programmed to close when they receive an electrical signal from a fire alarm system. This signal senses heat or smoke in the building or the HVAC ducts.

Are Fire Dampers a Necessity?

As stated before, fire dampers are vital. Of course, the hope is never to have a fire where your dampers will have to operate but, in the event that there is an emergency, these dampers will prevent the spread of fire throughout your home. Dampers also help to prevent smoke from traveling through your home’s ductwork in the event of a fire. In short, fire dampers can save your life (and parts of your house) if a house fire were to occur.

Are There Different Types of Dampers?

Yes! There are two different types of fire dampers:

  • Dynamic Dampers
  • Static Dampers

Dynamic dampers are installed into fire-rated barriers and feature a spring-loaded design.  Dynamic dampers are tested and listed to close while air continues flowing through duct; this is defined as a dynamic system.

Static dampers are installed as barriers. They have a curtain-like design. HVAC systems that use static fire dampers are designed to turn off the fan when the fire alarm system activates, allowing the damper door to fall due to the weight of gravity.

What Does Maintenance for the Fire Damper Entail?

Damper care requires a specific set of steps that are necessary for proper maintenance. Following these four steps will ensure that the damper is working at its best in the event that a fire occurs. These steps include:

1. Checking the actuator and tightening it if necessary

2. Cleaning the damper blades and any other necessary parts

3. Checking closure springs (make sure to replace or repair if there is damage)

4. Checking for any rust or corrosion and replacing parts if necessary

These are standard steps taken during routine maintenance for any customers. The technician who performs your maintenance should have a checklist and provide you with the results and any applicable recommendations for your dampers. Don’t avoid necessary repairs!

Maintenance should be performed on your dampers one year after installation and every four years after that for complete care. Ensuring that your dampers are always up to code is a top priority.

What Happens if I Don’t Maintain My Fire Damper?

While everything deteriorates over time, consistent and quality maintenance keeps things functional for an extended time. However, deterioration coupled with poor maintenance can prevent your damper from remaining functional much quicker. While fire dampers aren’t glamorous products when forgotten, they are important for stopping the spread of smoke and fire in case of an emergency. Therefore, it is imperative to keep your fire damper and ductwork up to code for the safety of your home.

Where is the Fire Damper Located?

Fire dampers are located within the ventilation and air conditioning ducts inside your home or building’s ductwork. If you are unsure where your dampers are located, consider hiring a professional to inspect them and advise you of their location and how best to take care of them.

How Do I Test My Fire Damper?

Unless you are well skilled in fire damper testing, hiring a professional is the recommended option. A professional will use a heat source to melt or remove the fuse link and let the blade drop to ensure it is working correctly. They are sure to keep their fingers and hands entirely out of the way to avoid injury. These professionals will also make sure the blades lock and close completely.

Should I Replace My Fire Dampers?

The only time it is necessary to replace a damper is when it is no longer functional. Keep up with necessary maintenance and testing as recommended, and keep your dampers up to code. There is no need to replace your dampers consistently, so save your money.

Should I Have My Fire Dampers Inspected Annually?

While complete maintenance is not required annually, an inspection should be completed annually for dynamic dampers. For motorized dampers, every two years is recommended for inspection. If any issues happen to arise during inspection or repair, it’s recommended that you replace your damper immediately to protect your home.

How Much is a Fire Damper Test and Inspection?

The cost of testing your fire dampers and having them inspected ranges between $40 and $150 per damper. Dampers range in price based on size and type. Shop around for quotes but don’t avoid getting your inspection completed!

There you have it! While fire dampers are in the less-known category of fire safety mechanisms, they are one of the most vital for the safety of your home. A damper is meant to prevent the spread of fire and smoke in your home and could save your life. Therefore, cleaning your fire damper is imperative to its efficiency, longevity, and your safety. Don’t forget to repair or replace damaged dampers right away to avoid a dangerous situation.