Chimney Balloon Review
By: Cary Weiner
If you’ve never heard of a chimney balloon, you’re not alone. Why would you want a balloon in your chimney, you ask? To seal air leaks of course! Fireplaces make up 14% of an average home’s air leaks, and leaky, poorly insulated homes can use up to five times as much energy as tightly sealed, well insulated homes. Which is why sealing up leaky fireplaces is a no brainer.
Fireplaces dampers can do the job to some degree. But air can leak through even a closed damper and many dampers warp over time with fireplace use. (Picture all that heated air your furnace and insulation have worked so hard to keep in the house just streaming up your chimney.) This is where the chimney balloon (aka chimney plug) comes in.
A work of art, it is not. It is literally a hefty balloon with a tube for blowing in air and a stand for pushing and holding it snugly in place. And positioning is really the key. I got one recently and it took me about 30 minutes to install. (But someone who does it all the time could do it in 5 minutes or less.) Much of my time was spent guessing and checking the appropriate level of air to blow into the balloon before pushing it into place (not too much but enough to let you insert it properly). It’s a bit of dirty work – on your knees or back with a headlamp to stuff all gaps with the partially inflated balloon, blowing it up fully and supporting it with the stand, and then inspecting your work for leaks.
But once installed you really can’t feel drafts. In other words, it works. If you burn fires in your fireplace regularly, it may be somewhat of a nuisance to have to remove and then reinstall the balloon with each use. But you’d likely get to be a pro in installing it before long. For those of us who rarely utilize our fireplaces, be sure to check the air level in the balloon from time to time. I felt that mine lost a little air after a few weeks but it was extremely simple to blow more into the tube.
So that’s the skinny on a product that seems to deliver on its promises.