An HVAC Damper: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Your home’s HVAC system is essential for creating and maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature. 

While you may be familiar with the main parts of your HVAC system and what your furnace or air conditioner is, there are several key components that help your system perform properly. An HVAC damper is one of these key parts.

Dampers help to direct where the air goes in your home. So, we’ve put together this guide to help you make more informed choices when buying a damper for your furnace or air conditioner. We’ll cover what dampers are, how they work, and the various types available on the market. 

If you want more information or need help installing a new HVAC system, just contact the professionals at River Valley Air Conditioning!

What is a Damper in HVAC?

HVAC dampers, also called as air duct dampers, are components installed inside the ductwork of HVAC systems. In homes, businesses, and industrial settings, dampers direct and regulate the airflow within the ducts. This allows home and property owners to better control the temperatures in their buildings while improving overall energy efficiency.

Dampers are typically made of metal and have an adjustable plate – or blade, in some cases – that controls airflow. Depending on the specific use and control demands, they can be either manually adjusted or powered by a button and a motor. Manual dampers typically have a lever, while motorized dampers have electric motors that allow automated control.

The Different Types of Dampers

When looking for a damper, many homeowners ask us, “What is a damper most HVAC systems use”. Most damper types fall under the manual or motor-based categories. We’ve listed a few below. 

If you’re interested in learning more about which system is right for your home and needs, contact our team.

Butterfly HVAC Dampers 

One kind of damper frequently found in HVAC systems is the butterfly damper. Though technically the name of a variety of blade dampers, this type got its name from how the shape of the valve’s blade resembles the shape of a butterfly’s wings. 

Typically, butterfly dampers are composed of a circular or oval plate with a pivoting rod or mechanism in the middle, but some models can have multiple blades. 

When the damper is pivoted open, the air can easily flow past unimpeded. Thanks to that same pivoting, any position other than completely open restricts the airflow until the butterfly damper is completely shut.

Inlet Vane Dampers

Inlet vane dampers, also known as inlet vanes or variable inlet vane dampers, are a second type of damper used in both heating and cooling systems. 

They usually have a series of movable blades installed on the fan’s inlet side. These dampers can be angled in many different ways, allowing homeowners to control the airflow to their preference. 

Inlet dampers are especially useful because these models allow much more precise control than other kinds of dampers. These kinds of dampers have blades much like the others, though some can have anywhere from six to twelve individual blades or more. Each blade can also be closed independently and at different levels, meaning the airflow can be anywhere from unimpeded to completely stopped.

Guillotine HVAC Dampers

As the name suggests, guillotine dampers are flat plates or blades that slide vertically between two frames to restrict airflow. 

The blade is typically mounted on a metal rod or a carriage assembly and is typically made of steel or aluminum, much like other HVAC dampers. Similar to butterfly dampers, this type can be adjustable by motors, pneumatic cylinders, or by hand.

Guillotine dampers are commonly used in large-scale business and industrial HVAC applications that require high airflow volumes and precise control. They often play a role in processes that require the circulation of large volumes of air or gasses, through ventilation ducts, exhaust systems, and other kinds of equipment.

The Typical Workings of a Damper

We often get asked: What is a damper for HVAC powered by, and how does it work in a home? In this section, we’ll cover how these systems are powered, and how they function. 

Each damper is unique, especially considering the number of blades a single damper can have. Each damper system opens and closes in different ways – motorized or manually, as mentioned. 

Manual dampers have levers, switches, or even screws you need to pull or turn. In a manual butterfly unit, for example, pulling the lever opens or closes the valve’s blades. This gives home and property owners the ability to adjust the airflow whenever necessary, depending on the desired temperature or zone control.

On the other hand, electric – or, in some cases, pneumatic – motor dampers can be easily controlled from anywhere in your building. The actuators rely on signals from a thermostat or another control device to open or close the blades. To maintain the ideal airflow or temperature in a certain zone, they automatically adjust the damper blade’s position, much like an AC or furnace shuts off at a set temperature. 

Of course, some models – like an inlet damper – can also be adjusted via a homeowner inputting specific settings into a thermostat.

What is an HVAC Damper’s top benefit in a Home? 

Whether you’re upgrading your system’s current damper or looking to replace a broken one, knowing the benefits of an air duct damper can be an important step toward choosing the right type for your home.

The number one benefit for homeowners? Dampers can help save you money on your monthly energy and utility bills. Of course, savings can vary depending on the type of damper you install. 

As mentioned, each damper can be opened and closed at varying degrees, allowing them to restrict and direct airflow as precisely as needed. When the damper’s blades are closed, you save more energy. 

If you need help with your HVAC system, contact River Valley. 

HVAC dampers are a flexible yet unique solution that enables homeowners to accurately control the temperature in their homes, allowing them to create a more cozy and healthy living space and reduce energy costs. 

So, if you’re interested in learning more about dampers or looking to install a new one, contact our team at River Valley Air Conditioning today!