by blogediter | May 6, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
Q: Jason, My house has a standard colonial Chimney made in 1796. What size chimney do i have and what size Chimney Balloon should I use? – JS
A: Dear JS, Unfortunately, there is really no way I can estimate a size Chimney Balloon you would need without seeing the application or having some measurements of the flue. There were certainly no codes or standard sizes for 1796 fireplace construction. It really would be necessary to measure the flue first.
If this is not something you are comfortable with doing, any handymen service or chimney sweep would be capable of doing the measurement. Often times customers will hire a Chimney Sweep to do a chimney cleaning and request that the Chimney Sweep measure for a Chimney Balloon while they are there doing the cleaning. If you wish to do it yourself, you will find a very useful reference at our Chimney damper and flue sizing page: http://www.chimneyballoon.us/Chimneyballoonsizing.html
If you want a little more assistance you can email photos of the fireplace and flue area and I can give you more direction on specifically where to measure. You will be looking for a location in the flue to measure that is within arms reach and has roughly parallel walls. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. – Jason
by blogediter | May 3, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
Q:Jason, My fireplace chimney is very unusual since the flue is so far forward and the smoke shelf or smoke chamber is so deep. There is no place to put the Chimney Balloon that has parallel walls before the 8×18 tile flue. Do you see any options that may be easier to install in according to my diagram? – JA
Dear JA: This is not an easy install since your lowest point with parallel walls will be the flue tile above the smoke shelf. Looks like the 18″x 8″ location would be best with an HEK extender handgrip. The smoke shelf juts out so much that the CB handgrip would get in the way of it, if trying to put the CB into the chamber just above the smoke shelf. – Jason
Note: In this case, a Custom 18×8 with an HEK extender worked very well and was easy to install since the flue was only 13″ above the smoke shelf ledge.
by blogediter | May 1, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
Q: Jason, We have a fireplace upstairs and one directly below it downstairs. Sometimes when we use one fireplace the other one will be smoky. Do we need more than one chimney pillow, or can we even use a chimney pillow in this situation? – LK
A: LK, When you have a fireplace that is one above another the two hearths usually have separate flues and dampers and they run to the roof in the same chimney structure. See the diagram of the two fireplaces sharing a chimney structure.
When you are using one fireplace and chimney your home is drinking in air from other places to allow enough airflow to feed the fire and to draft the smoke and heat upwards out the flue. The home will suck in air from the path of least resistance which is usually the other unused chimney (even if the damper is closed). This draw of air into the house is known as the “stack effect”.
So when the other chimney sucks in air from the roof it also sucks back in some smoke from the other fireplace chimney.
The solution to this problem is to use 2 separate Chimney Balloons, one for each flue. When you have a fire in one of the fireplaces then remove that Chimney Balloon in the used fireplace and leave the other one in place in the unused fireplace. This will force your home to find another less-smoky place to draw from, like doors or windows. – Jason
by blogediter | Apr 22, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
Q: Jason – I see in some places on the chimney balloon website and in literature you state that a Chimney Balloon can save a homeowner $200 in home heat. How do you get that figure? – JP
A: Dear JP, I’m glad you ask this. A person should always challenge marketing claims of any product. Lets take a look at what the Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration, and some independent studies say…
Open or Missing Fireplace Dampers:
A European research study titled “Ventilation perturbations due to an open fireplace in a house” – by P. Dalicieux and C. Nicolas concluded that a missing or left open fireplace damper can result in a home to have a 30% increase in heating costs. The US Energy Information Administration said that in 2005-2006 the average US family spent $1044 on home heating bills. This information is on their 2005-2006 report. So 30% of $1044 is $313. Keep in mind this is 2005-2006 information and energy cost trends have home heating cost increasing 25%-30% each year since then. As you can see, $313 is more than our more conservative statement about $200 in savings using a Chimney Balloon. But, lets look at another study…
Fireplace Dampers That are Functional or Damaged:
The Department of Energy (DOE) states that 14% of a homes heat loss is lost through the fireplace even when there is a damper in the fireplace. They also say the average family in 2005 spends $1600 per year on utility bills. Personally, I think this figure is low. I live in a tight 1100 sq ft ranch (with new power vent furnace and water heater) and I know I spent more than $2000 on utilities in 2007, but I suppose the DOE is figuring in the North and South US climates together.
So if we spend the $1044 per year on home heat that the (The US Energy Information Administration says we spend) and 14% goes up the fireplace flue, then the person is loosing $146 in home heat per year even if you have a functional damper.
So with these two studies we take the average between the two to be $230 in home heat. That is where we get our $200 in heat savings. I hope you can pardon us for rounding down on the final figure. – Jason
by blogediter | Apr 10, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
Q: Jason – My husband insists on using rubbish to start the fire in the fireplace, We are not just talking paper and cardboard, he will take a small plastic bag of garbage from the kitchen and put the logs on top of it and light it. I think it stinks and is dangerous, but he says “Well it is better than sending it to the landfill.” Please tell him that this is not a good thing to do. – GD
A: Dear GD, I make it a point to not get into the middle of spousal arguments but Im going to have to make an exception on this one. It is an absolutely terrible idea for your husband to use garbage to start the fire in the fireplace. Burning plastics create terrible caustic fumes that are harmful to people and their lungs. It may appear that all of the smoke and fumes are going up the chimney but you mentioned that the practice of using garbage to start a fire “stinks” and I am assuming you mean the smell of burning garbage stinks. The fact that you can smell it in the house tells me that you are getting fumes into the house. Furthermore there could be other items in the trash that he is burning that he didn’t know was there…chemical cleaner containers, paints, or other items that emit even more toxic fumes than plastic. From a chimney standpoint, the soot created from burning garbage can be very sticky and cause rapid buildup of creosote and other stinky deposits in the fireplace and chimney. This makes cleaning the chimney more difficult and sometimes more expensive. In short Mrs GD…your husband is being a meathead and he needs to stop burning his trash in the fireplace. (Note: In case your husband is a big fella, tell him I mean meathead in the most endearing kind of way.) It is time for him to use cardboard or paper shopping bags as this is the cleanest burning handy kindling he will find in the house that wont give him premature lung problems. – Jason
by blogediter | Apr 8, 2019 | Chimney Plugs
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