Q: Jason – I have a decision to make. I can either pay a chimney sweep $950 to replace my metal flue damper or I can just have him clean the chimney and buy a Chimney Balloon. Which one should I do? – TR
A: TR – Well to be honest with you $950 sounds like a rather large amount to replace a metal damper, I hope he including a chimney cleaning with that quote. I am of course assuming that your fireplace is of a standard make & size. If your chimney required a custom fabricated damper it would be much more expensive and would have been obvious from the quote.
The answer to this question lies almost entirely in two questions …How often do you use your fireplace? And how concerned are you with conserving your homes heat?
If you use your fireplace less than once a week on average you would certainly be better off just going for a chimney cleaning and a Chimney Balloon. In this case you are an occasional user of your fireplace and it spends much more time out of use than in use. You want as tight of a seal on your fireplace flue as possible to maximize heat savings and minimize chimney creosote smell.
If you use your fireplace more often than once a week on average you probably are not that concerned about loosing heat from your home since fireplaces tend to waste much more heat than they create for your home. The US Department of Energy states that regular use of an open fireplace will actually increase your heating bill. The major point of the Chimney Balloon is that is saves heat, not that it is easier to use than a damper.
So in this case you want to consider replacing the metal damper. You will get an inferior seal on you flue with a metal damper, but it will more convenient for you to use than a Chimney Balloon. As it is, most homeowners forget to close their damper after having a fire, and you may grow weary of installing and uninstalling your Chimney Balloon and some day you will just stop using it.
TR, I could give you a pat answer that “Of course the Chimney Balloon is your best option!!” but I think you will appreciate seeing it from both sides. – Jason