Most open fireplaces are fitted with a chimney damper which is designed to be kept closed when the fireplace is not in use and opened before the fire is lit in the fireplace. As with all components of the chimney they are subject to the damaging effects of the acid flue gases mixed with rain water and therefore rust out. Commonly the first thing the homeowner is going to notice is that it becomes very hard to open or close the damper with the small handle protruding from above the fireplace. Top to Bottom Chimney has plenty of experience repairing and replacing these components. Every damper we inspect has some amount of rust on it. Its simply a matter of when the damper becomes unusable, to decide when to replace it. Its very important to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use, because otherwise warm air generated by your heating system is venting straight up the chimney, causing a very inefficient loss of heat.