When it comes to fire protection equipment, fire dampers play a crucial role in keeping your home or office safe in an emergency. Unless you’re a contractor who knows heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) installation, you may not understand the different types of fire dampers and which ones will keep you safe and secure. Thankfully, the experts at Lloyd Industries are here to help you get the knowledge you need to be in control of your fire protection plan.
- What is a fire damper?
- What is an exhaust damper?
- How does a backdraft damper work?
- What businesses use backdraft dampers?
What is a Fire Damper?
If you’ve ever been in an office building or large retail store, you’ve probably been near a fire damper. A fire damper is a piece of equipment that regulates the airflow within an air duct or other air handling equipment types. In addition to their use in fire protection plans, dampers can also block off air conditioning or heat to an unused room, help you regulate the climate control or temperature in different zones in your home or office.
There are two main types of fire dampers: automatic and manual.
Automatic dampers are electric or air controlled and are typically connected to a building’s automation system or thermostat. Manual dampers remain open at all times until a high-heat event triggers their closure.
Fire dampers are part of fire control plans in homes or office buildings and work with fire-rated walls and other fire-rated accessories to control the spread of smoke and flames in an emergency. There are two common ways that fire dampers close: fusible links and electrical control. A fusible link fire damper closes when the heat from a fire melts the link, causing the damper to shut. Electrical controlled dampers are connected to a more extensive fire suppression system and can shut when a smoke alarm or other fire activation system is engaged.
What is an Exhaust Damper?
One of the more complicated damper types is the exhaust damper, also known as a backdraft damper. These work within HVAC ducts to diffuse harmful exhaust and prevent the buildup of dangerous chemicals or fumes.
Different municipalities have various regulations about building codes and fire inspections that help regulate how contractors install fire and exhaust dampers within buildings. For example, the National Fire Protection Association states that “Fire dampers shall not be installed if the material being exhausted is toxic and if a risk evaluation indicates that the toxic hazard is greater than the fire hazard.”
A backdraft damper helps control the flow of air through exhaust ducts in your home or office, as well as preventing unwanted air from returning into the ductwork. Backdraft dampers are typical in bathroom exhaust ducts, kitchen range hoods, dryer vents, and microwaves.
Think about how your bathroom mirror fogs up when you take a hot shower. Contractors install exhaust dampers within exhaust fans in bathrooms to help pull the hot, moist air out of the space and direct it outside of your home. It’s essential to utilize your exhaust damper because it helps draw the moisture out of the air and prevent mold and mildew from growing in your bathroom. Exhaust dampers work to keep good air in and bad air out. Whether it’s hot air from a bathroom or air conditioning propelling strong odors out of your kitchen in the summer without allowing hot air back in, exhaust and backdraft dampers play a crucial role in keeping your home and office comfortable and clean.
How Does a Backdraft Damper Work?
There are several small pieces of ventilation equipment that help your HVAC system work effectively. A backdraft damper is a critical component because it prevents the contaminated or unwanted air from being blown or sucked back into the space that it was removed from. Backdraft dampers are interesting because they work with gravity to prevent air from returning into the vent. You can install a backdraft damper within exhaust systems, heat exchanges, solar heating systems, and other types of ductwork.
In addition to home applications, companies such as Lloyd Industries provide dampers for various professional and commercial uses. The main difference comes from the amount of air pressure and velocity that the damper will experience, the damper’s size, and the strength of the materials contractors use to construct it.
What Businesses Use Backdraft Dampers?
Homeowners aren’t the only ones who benefit from the use of backdraft and exhaust dampers. Industries such as restaurants, laundry facilities, and hospitals use backdraft and exhaust dampers to regulate airflow from inside to out.
Restaurant airflow is a great use of dampers because odors must be dissipated from within the cooking area outside without disturbing guests’ neutral aroma in the dining area. If your restaurant is cooking aromatic dishes such as fish or foods with intense spices, you should ensure your exhaust damper works correctly so that your diners aren’t overwhelmed with a mixture of smells. These dampers collect air from within the cooking area and expel it outside to not interfere with those dining inside.
Laundry facilities are another excellent example of how dampers work to keep the interior of a space feeling comfortable. If you’ve ever stood next to your dryer, the warm air that builds up within the dryer to help dry your clothes can increase the temperature directly around the space. In a situation where there are dozens of dryers, it’s essential to ensure that the warm air can travel outside instead of accumulating inside and causing massive air conditioning bills.
Hospitals use airflow in precise ways, not only for comfort but to keep people safe. If a patient is in an isolation ward, ensuring enough airflow is critical to keeping them comfortable. However, you don’t want contaminated air to exhaust into the corridors or other patients’ rooms. Contractors must work carefully to ensure exhaust dampers work efficiently to draw air out of the room and away from the inside of the building without allowing it to flow back into the space.
Exploring the best type of damper for your needs is critical to ensuring your home or office stays safe and ventilated year-round. Whether you need an exhaust damper, backdraft damper, or fire dampers, be sure to speak with a professional for selection and installation.