Should you always install a chimney balloon in your home? What are the limitations and alternatives? Here we explain it all.
As the name suggests, a chimney balloon is a device placed up the chimney in your home in order to create an affective barrier and slow down heat loss and help prevent and reduce draughts.
- Chimney balloons are an affective way to prevent draughts and warm air being lost via your chimney.
- We recommend a chimney sheep if you have a non-gas fire, like this one found on Amazon.
- If you have a gas fire a chimney balloon is advised.
What is a Chimney Balloon?
A chimney balloon is designed to be placed in your chimney to help prevent heat loss i.e. warm air from escaping your home, as well as the formation of draughts i.e. cold air from making its way into your home.
A chimney’s primary role is to allow the potentially toxic exhaust fumes from your fireplace or stove to be vented to the outside of your property.
However, a major issue with chimneys is the fact that they also allow warm air to escape from your home, whether your fire is currently on or not.
Even worse is the fact that cold air from the outside can also make its way down the chimney causing a draught.
A draught is defined as a cold vortex of air and is a major cause of heat loss and inefficiency.
How does a chimney balloon work?
A chimney balloon is a device placed up your chimney and just like a regular balloon it’s essentially an inflated balloon, helping to limit heat loss and draught formation.
They also contain an air hole in the centre to allow the passage of air.
The good news is that chimney balloons are available in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so are suitable for almost any type of UK chimney design.
Do you use the balloon when the fire is on?
No, the balloon is designed only to be used when the fire or stove is not in use.
When the fireplace is cool you can easily put the balloon in place and inflate it.
This allows you to reduce heat loss as much as possible and is especially useful if your central heating is currently turned on.
Alternatives to Chimney Balloons
The main alternative to a chimney balloon is a traditional draught excluder, you can find these designed to fit into most chimney designs.
Another newer alternative is called a chimney sheep. Unlike a balloon, this is made from 100% wool (apart from the recycled plastic handle).
Unlike a plastic chimney balloon, a sheep is not prone to deflating or being popped, which is asserted as its main advantage.
However, as the chimney sheep company state on their official website, a Chimney Balloon is what they recommend for a gas fireplace:
If you light a fire with the Chimney Sheep in place, the fire will smoulder and not draw properly, and it’s fire retardant so it won’t burst into flames, which is fine with an open fire but to be honest the Chimney Balloon is a safer bet for gas fires.Chimney Sheep Official Website.
Limitations of Chimney Balloons
Overall, chimney balloons have a good reputation and are often recommended, but that does not mean they are perfect.
A few limitations and disadvantages have been highlighted, including the following:
- Chimney balloons need to be inflated and deflated between use, which many people find inconvenient.
- Chimney balloons are prone to puncturing.
- Some people complain that chimney balloons can lead to the build up of condensation and mildew as they limit ventilation from the chimney.