How long does a Chimney Balloon hold air? and is it for everyday use?

Q: Jason, I have several questions. My experience with inflatable devices is that they leak. Can one insert the Chimney Balloon and leave it in for months, or does it gradually leak air?

Can one use the Chimney Balloon in a fireplace that one uses almost daily? For example, inflate the Chimney Balloon in the morning and then remove it in the evening when one wants to build a fire? If this is done, does the Chimney Balloon get “messy” covered with soot etc? We have the fireplace cleaned yearly but use it a lot.What is the life expectancy of a Chimney Balloon if it is inserted and not removed for months (a fireplace that we don’t use) vs. one where we would remove it quite often. I wonder if the Chimney Balloon is to be used only in a fireplace that is not used often. Thanks! – JT

A: Dear JT, If you use a wood fireplace daily you are going to find a Chimney Balloon to be a hassle to take in and out every day, however, if you have an offseason that you don’t use your fireplace (like the summer), you will find it a keen energy saver during that offseason.

You have probably gotten pretty used to inflatable mattresses, beach toys, and rubber or latex stuff made with a variety of cheap inflation valves. It is very true that these items don’t hold air long term because it leaks out of the valve. They don’t even hold air for 24 hours.

However, If you put a Chimney Balloon in and leave it in, it will stay inflated for 6 months to 12 months, no problem. The difference is our valves and seams are made to be absolutely airtight, so the only pressure difference you experience is from the air pressure inside the Chimney Balloon due to temperature differences increasing and decreasing air volume. I would suggest once a year as the temperatures outside get cooler, top the Chimney Balloon off with air just to keep it at nice and snug.

On the wear-out question… There are a number of variables to this question, but I will try to answer it generally. If you are installing a Chimney Balloon and taking it out every day you could expect your Chimney Balloon to last a few months before it wears out. IF you put the Chimney Balloon in and leave it in, and once every year top it off with air, you can have your Chimney Balloon last 10-15 years before the top side of the balloon will start getting brittle from the acrid creosote fumes.

I tried to cover your questions as thoroughly as possible. Let me know if you want me to clarify anything. – Jason

Do I need to close my damper after I install a Chimney Balloon?

Do I need to close my damper after I install a Chimney Balloon?

Q: Do I close the chimney damper after installing the Chimney Balloon?- JJ

A: Dear JJ, There is no need to close the damper below your Chimney Balloon. The Chimney Balloon is doing the job of the damper and quite frankly it is doing a better job than the metal damper could anyway. So closing the damper after the Chimney balloon is installed is like closing a screen door on the inside of a submarine.

However, You can have the damper closed if you have the Chimney Balloon in there far enough to close it. There are a few things to keep in mind though if you do decide to close the damper. If you try to force the damper closed it may put upward pressure on the valve section of your Chimney Balloon. That is a little tough on your Chimney Balloon since it puts undue pressure on the valve and Chimney Balloon.

The other issue is if you close your damper you may forget you installed the Chimney Balloon and just open the damper and start a fire.

Personally, I leave my damper open and leave the inflation tube attached, so it dangles just above my head when I open the glass doors to the fireplace. With this solution, I still have no draft problem and I haven’t accidentally melted a Chimney Balloon yet. – Jason

Do I need a damper to use a chimney balloon, or can I just install it in a open flue?

Do I need a damper to use a chimney balloon, or can I just install it in a open flue?

Q: Jason, I’m originally from Florida and don’t know anything about fireplaces. I just bought a house in Utah and there is a very ugly wood burning furnace/insert in the fireplace. We plan to eventually put a gas insert there because air quality is bad in Salt Lake and we will never burn wood. So, we want to remove this fireplace insert monster but have no idea if there will be a flue/damper remaining in the chimney because there is already one that is a part of the insert.

My question is – should we put a damper on and then buy a Chimney Balloon? If we use a Chimney Balloon, do we need a flue/damper? If we need a damper, what type works well with a Chimney Balloon? – BU

A: Dear BU, I have good news and bad news for you in the damper department.

The Bad news; when you remove your insert you will very likely remove the damper as well. Most of the time when a fireplace insert is put in, the original fireplace damper is removed. There is usually a damper built right into the insert. Occasionally there is a throat butterfly damper as well but that is mostly with free standing stoves, not inserts. So let’s assume when you remove your insert you will have no damper.

The Good News: You can put a Chimney Balloon in the flue without a damper. On this website, we show all kinds of diagrams of how to install a Chimney Balloon around or with a damper because in most American fireplaces they have one. But if you have no damper it is actually easier to put in a Chimney Balloon because you have no hardware to contend with. So just measure the lowest spot in the flue that has parallel walls, and buy a Chimney Balloon that will fit that spot.

Let me know if you have more questions, I am happy to help. – Jason

On warmer days and rainy days, we have a strong smoke burnt smell from the fireplace insert.

On warmer days and rainy days, we have a strong smoke burnt smell from the fireplace insert.

Q: Jason, On warmer winter days and rainy days, we have a strong smoke smell in the house. We have a fireplace insert. Would the Chimney Balloon help with this problem?- SQ

A: Dear SQ, The first thing you can do to cut down on smoke smell during the humid days is first to clean the ash out of the fireplace insert with a shop vac. Humidity has a bad habit of making soot, creosote, and ash to smell stronger.

Some people are under the misconception that a chimney sweeping or cleaning will remove this burnt smell, and I have not found that to be the case. Chimney sweeping is good and should be done regularly, but the brushing action often stirs up the creosote and ash in the flue making it stronger smelling for a while.

The next step is to separate your flue from the house by sealing it off. A Chimney Balloon will work to stop the smelly fireplace stink if you can access the chimney flue opening. Some inserts have metal baffles in the firebox that prevent access to the chimney flue from the firebox. However, there should be a way to access your flue since a chimney sweep has to do this in order to sweep the chimney and then get the ash he brushed off out. You may want to ask your sweep how he accesses your lower flue to remove the ash he brushes off the flue wall. There may be an ash clean-out or removable portion of your flue pipe that you are unaware of. If you can touch the inside of the flue or damper opening area then you can install the Chimney Balloon and it will seal off the chimney low and tight and will not allow the creosote buildup in the chimney to stink up the house.

If you still have a smell to deal with it is probably from the firebox. To further neutralize any lingering smell, you can use a large salad bowl of white vinegar. Just put a good amount of vinegar in the bowl and set it in the firebox for a  day or two. This can also do a great job of neutralizing the fireplace burnt smell.

If you need to go one step further, you can also treat the firebox with baking soda (just remember to remove the vinegar bowl first). Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the floor and walls of the firebox. Let it set a few days and then vacuum it off. – Jason

Majestic SR42A fireplace with a loose damper fit.

Majestic SR42A fireplace with a loose damper fit.

Q: Jason, I have a Majestic SR42A 42″ prefab wood-burning fireplace with gas logs.  The damper is 8″ round and opens/swivels in the middle of the circle.  The firebox is a trapezoid with approximate dimensions of 24 X 33 with the sides being 15″.

There is a front “panel” that seems to be angled inward making the 15″ sides taller at the top and smaller at the bottom. There seems to be sufficient room between the damper and the top of the fireplace opening (9″) for a larger Chimney balloon.  The front panel may also make a good “shelf” for the Chimney Balloon to rest on.
I’m wondering if the best bet is to go with a smaller Chimney Balloon and install it above the damper with the extender or get a bigger Chimney Balloon and install it under the damper, in the trapezoid firebox area.  My preference would be for easy installation and removal as we use our fireplace a lot in the winter.  I don’t mind if part of the Chimney Balloon or pole shows. – CA
A: Dear CA, You have a couple of choices in how to install your Chimney Balloon.
Option 1: If you plan on putting in the Chimney Balloon and leaving it (ie. not using this fireplace much) than I would suggest you get a 9×9 and put it above the damper with an HEK extender. This configuration will get your Chimney Balloon up and out of sight from the firebox area and it will give you a nice tight seal in the flue area.
Option 2: If you will use this gas log fireplace regularly and you are looking for the easiest place to install a Chimney Balloon to take it in and out. I would recommend you get a 36×15 Chimney Balloon and install it right in the firebox below the damper. When your damper is closed the handle will be up and out of the way and you have a nice trapezoidal spot there that is 9″ tall to put the Chimney Balloon in. The only downside is that you may be able to see the Chimney Balloon a little bit in the firebox. Also, you will want to be careful of the sharp edges on the damper handle bracket that I see in this picture that holds the damper up when it is closed. Those brackets can have a sharp edge on the tip of them so you may want to put a piece of tape over that spot so you can get maximum longevity out of your Chimney Balloon. Sharp spots like that can tend to wear out the Chimney Balloon early if you are installing and uninstalling regularly. – Jason
Afternote: This customer decided to purchase the 36×15 Chimney Balloon.

Australian Chimney Balloons and Coonara fireplaces?

Australian Chimney Balloons and Coonara fireplaces?

Q: Jason, I am very interested in this fantastic Chimney Balloon product. I live in Australia – do you have any reps here that I can purchase one from??

I have a ‘Coonara’ style fireplace.  It’s a freestanding wood fire with glass door and a flue that goes up into the plaster roof lining and up outside where it has a pointed swivel thing that moves with the direction of the wind.  My problem is that when its windy we have an enormous amount of wind noise that belts down the flue, even with the flue closed.  Can I use one of your products?? If so would I have to take the swivel thing off of the roof to add the Chimney Balloon? Thanks very much for taking the time to read my question and I await in anticipation your response. Regards, CS

A: Dear CS, Thank you for your interest in Chimney Balloons. First I will answer your question about the chimney. The weather- vain on the top will not interfere with the Chimney Balloon installation at all, but it may be causing some of the wind noise you are experiencing. Also, the Chimney Balloon should work well with a Coonara style fireplace as long as you can access the flue.

For ordering, you will receive better service through the Australian distributor which can be reached through the website