How does a Chimney Balloon work as a draught excluder?
To explain how a Chimney Balloon works, we have to explain how a chimney works. The best analogy to demonstrate this is windows!
Having an open chimney is comparable to leaving a window open all the time, but a VERY, VERY big window. In fact, the Buildings Research Establishment (BRE) states that an average of 80 cubic metres of air travel up a chimney per hour, even if you do not have an active fireplace. Pretty scary hey? This is exacerbated by something called the ‘stack effect’. Chimneys are built to draw air from the inside to the outside. That warm air needs to be replaced so cold air from outside is pulled in from other draughty parts of the building like gaps in doors, keyholes and open vents.
Fitting a Chimney Balloon to an open chimney is like fitting the gap with double glazing. The Chimney Balloon is designed to inflate and push against all four walls of the chimney, holding itself firmly in place. There is a small vent in the side of the product which allows some airflow, permitting your chimney to “breathe” but only about 13% which will still make it effective as a draught excluder whilst ensuring your chimney doesn’t get damp.
The rubber bands hold the top and bottom together, enabling it to push outwards as it’s inflated. The top and the bottom of the balloon provide a double barrier. Air is trapped inside the balloon, insulating the chimney against cold air sinking down, while simultaneously preventing warm air from rising up.
Once you fit a Chimney Balloon, not only will it stop warm air escaping up your chimney but stop cold air being pulled in via other routes. This means that when you have your heating on, it isn’t just escaping through your chimney but actually heating your home efficiently! You should find you can turn your heating down.
What are the benefits of having a Chimney Balloon?
- It saves energy– tests done by the BSRIA show that a Chimney Balloon stops 87% of warm air flow out of your house which means your heating system can work a lot more efficiently.
- Reduces energy bills – using a Chimney Balloon will knock, on average, about 4% off your heating bills and is one of the most cost-effective way to do so as the Chimney Balloon will pay for itself in just 6 months (vs something like double glazing which on average cost about 50 years to pay for itself). It really is a no brainer if you have a chimney.
- Reduces CO2 output – by reducing your energy output, you are going to be reducing your CO2 output which is great for the environment and something we are all becoming more conscious about.
- Stops wildlife and debris falling through the chimney – a Chimney Balloon acts as a great barrier between the outside world and your living room which means no more wildlife to surprise you in your hearth when you come down in the morning!
- Reduces wind noise down a chimney – there is nothing worse than a noisy chimney but by inserting a Chimney Balloon the airflow is reduced and so is the wind noise.
How is The Chimney Balloon different to other chimney balloons on the market?
- Safe – Each balloon comes with a ‘Remember to Remove’ tag to remind you to take it out before you light a fire. However, if you forget and your Chimney Balloon is exposed to a naked flame or excess heat the balloon would simply shrivel and fall into the grate.
- PVC free – The Chimney Balloon is the only inflatable chimney draught excluder that is PVC free. PVC is an organochlorine based plastic which actually makes it one of the worst plastics to burn. Although more heat resistant, when heated it will emit harmful quantities of dioxins which are highly toxic to humans – they are carcinogenic and hormone disruptors – as well as small quantities of chlorine gas.
- Available in lots of different sizes – please don’t waste your money on a product that claims to be a universal fit. Unfortunately, it is not that easy because chimney flues vary from being the size of a bean can to the size of a door, and there just isn’t a material that is stretchy enough, strong enough or versatile enough to be an effective fit for all those different sizes. You’ll end up with gaps and therefore draughts! We have lots of different sizes to ensure you are able to get the best fit for your chimney. If we don’t have one that fits the size of your chimney we have a made-to-measure service. Just get in touch with your measurements and we can provide you with a quote.
- Malleable – our Chimney Balloon are quite a bit more malleable than the PVC copies. We have a rubber band-and-connectors mechanism that allows them to stretch outwards and upwards and means that they will fit each individual chimney to its exact shape, perfectly blocking all draughts.
- Made in the UK by a charity called Watford Workshop – all our Chimney Balloon are made by the charity, Watford Workshop which has been giving work experience, skills training and employment to disabled and disadvantaged adults for over 50 years, working to upskill them and build their confidence. Working with Watford Workshop has been a fundamental part of our business over the last few years and an element of the business we are so proud of. You’d be surprised by how complicated it is to make the Chimney Balloon; each stage requires careful scrutiny to ensure the product doesn’t have any weak points. Watford Workshop has made hundreds of thousands of successful Chimney Balloons that have been exported all over the world, a testament to their high quality work. You can read more about them here.
- Quality product and great customer service – when you buy a Chimney Balloon, you are getting a quality, well-made product. Everything from the materials we use to the fact that we ensure each balloon has a double layer for extra strength ensures that The Chimney Balloon will work effectively and last you for years to come.
How long will a balloon last?
We have customers calling us who have had their Chimney Balloon for over 20 years! They don’t need much looking after but it’s worth checking on it from time to time to make sure it’s still full of air. Even plastic will lose air over time and if the Chimney Balloon becomes loose it can risk fretting against the sides of the chimney more which will eventually cause it to wear out.
If you’re leaving it in place for a long time then check it every 3 months or so to make sure it’s still fully inflated. Take it out once a year to make sure there’s no accumulation of debris above it. Sometimes over time friction against a rough chimney surface can cause a small hole to appear, especially if you live in a windy area. In this instance make sure the hole is clean and dry then simply stick a piece of adhesive tape over it.
What size do I need?
As we mentioned above, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work when it comes to a Chimney Balloon. you’ll need to measure your chimney then select the most appropriate size.