Starting at $43 at Chimney-Balloon.com
Perhaps the most wasteful and inefficient symptom of a wood stove or fireplace is the leaky air and odor that can enter back into your home in the off-season through the chimney. Chimneys with no dampers (or ones that may be warped or damaged from age) may experience drafts when not in use. The easiest way to prevent this is with a chimney balloon.
Very simple in its function, the Chimney Balloon has been used for over 20 years in Europe. However, it has only been sold in the United States for a few years, although its design is brilliant. Made from plastic tri-laminate, it is sturdy enough to stop drafts from getting into your home, but flexible enough to get it into the deepest chimney recesses. We tried ours out in three easy steps:
1. We attached the "air host" over the end of the air valve (the black tubing) and gave it a slight puff to get a little air into the balloon.
2. We stuck the balloon up into the most appropriate place in the chimney to stop drafts. The Chimney Balloon Website will have all the info you need to determine where this is on your chimney and also what size of Balloon you will need. Once the balloon is in place, you can finish inflating it with the hose. Make sure you wear goggles during this step, as all kinds of debris will most likely fall back down into your face and eyes.
3. Without over inflating, we made sure the balloon was firm, but not too tight. The balloon can pop or puncture, so it’s also important that it’s in a clean area of the chimney and away from sharp debris or pipe creases. We turned the valve on the black tube stem to “off” or perpendicular to the stem.
With the balloon in place, there was an immediate stop to the air leaking into my basement from my wood stove chimney. I anticipate this will also keep odors from soot at bay (I have not experienced any since it has been in place). The balloon can easily be deflated for removal, and should I happen to forget it’s there when starting a fire, the balloon will deflate and fall out to allow for proper evacuation of smoke and heat.
The Chimney Balloon is a common-sense approach to a common problem. While it won’t save you more than $50 per year in energy costs if your chimney already has a damper, Chimney Balloon can save you around $200 per year if you do not. It is also a relatively quick way to get a handle on fuel waste. At a retail price of slightly under $50 for most sizes, Chimney Balloon makes stopping a draft in fireplaces (and most older wood stove pipes) an easy and environmentally responsible home solution.