Why the damper?

Brad Baker

TVWBB Member
I am once again thinking about building a HM (currently use Flameboss 300), just to wean myself from a dependence on a commercial ATC, their rising prices, and the potential instabilities that affect small companies. The last time I was close to building a HM there was no such thing as a damper. I was wondering what the impetus was to add one. Is it to control air flow through the cooker and subsequent escalating temps when the blower is off?


The damper allows you to choke off the oxygen supply in the event of a spike. You can also use the damper as the primary air flow control mechanism, only using the blower if needed. I would assume this would also lead to a slower rate of fuel consumption.

Bryan Mayland

TVWBB Honor Circle
Yeah without a damper you have to close down all your air vents almost entirely so that when the fan is off, the fire goes out. Too much air will naturally draft right through the blower if your vents are open a normal amount. The fan then pressurizes the smoker until smoke come out where it can. In between you have an area where the smoke isn't really being blown out and just becomes stale inside the smoker.

With a damper, you can open the exhaust vents a normal amount and the smoke can exit on its own. The damper can put the fire out by itself by shutting off the intake. This means no stale smoke, and you have a much wider margin of error on how much the exhaust vents can be open and still maintain temperature control too.


Without a damper.... You still have to use the minion method.

My method....is light a full chimney of coals put them in there , spread out evenly on top, and let the heater meter do the rest.

I couldn't get my temperature down today it was running 350 degrees after I put the coals in and spread them out getting ready to cook a brisket tonight...after 10 min it finally dawned on me my damper was stuck open. Yeah it drafts enough to maintain that temperature with a full load of hot coals...thru the fan.

Here's why my damper got stuck I let it get too close to a hot chimney a few months ago. Who'd have thought 15 inch or so was to close? It still works fine it just gets stuck every now and then when it's been in the same position a long time. I need to take a little sandpaper to the back side until I can get around to putting together a new one.


Last edited:

Brad Baker

TVWBB Member
Without a damper.... You still have to use the minion method. ...
Ah. There's an explanation that makes some sense. I use the MM, or rather, a variation that dumps the starter coals in a tomato can in the middle of the fire ring. I use the Weber compact chimney for starter coal and don't really put much in there. I do get spikes when I remove the lid for a while to flip meat or check temps or add coal through the door, though they recover without issue. I once had a runaway that was so bad, even with vents closed that I disassembled the cooker and hosed the fire down with water to start over. At the time I was using a #10 can in the center and had filled the whole thing with extremely hot coal. It lit off the whole load. Enter the tomato can.

I run a mod in which the bottom daisy wheels are sealed and the blower air enters the cooker from the bottom center. I wonder if that could have something to do with it? Anyway, I expect I'll try running the HM w/o the damper.

Thanks for the comments.


TVWBB Diamond Member
Minion works great but can be more work depending on how you configure it. I used to do what I called the "ring of fire" minion where I put a circle of steel mesh in the middle of the Fauxmado and line the coals around the outside, light one end and let the fire burn around the circle. This worked great, and was nice 'cause you can time the smoke by placing the wood at various spots in the ring. The food goes in the middle with no fire beneath it so you get an offset type of cook inside a kamado. Only negative is with only a few coals burning you run the risk of the fire going out if coals aren't set just right
The damper is the "easy button" solution, these days I just light a weber starter cube and pile lump coal on top of it and let the RotoDamper run the show, never lets me down...

edit: Found a pic from back in the day....