Q: Jason, I have a property built around 1900. It is a three story building with a three story shed behind it. The chimney is located at the back wall of the building. All of the sheds are not insulated but roughly 50% are.
The previous owner got some pipes installed in the chimney to provide water for washer outlets in the sheds. Needless to say the pipes froze! Anyways...I wanted to know can I install a chimney balloon on the top of the chimney to stop any drafts from coming in? Is it as effective as fiberglass? If it gets up to freezing temperatures is the balloon still going to stay in place? It will not change shape or wither up at -30 degrees (Celsius)? Thanks!
PS. The space is quite small about 1.25 feet by 1.25 feet or perhaps even smaller. - OM
A: Dear OM, Ahhh, running pipes through an open chimney. That previous owner really
set you up for a fall on that one. Since this is essentially an abandon
chimney you can install a Chimney Balloon at the top and it will help
significantly as long as you have a spot to put the balloon in that isn't in the way of the pipes. From your measurements it sounds like it would take a
15x15 Chimney Balloon.
The Chimney Balloon will not shrivel in the cold, but it will soften slightly. To minimize this I do recommend inflating it when the temp outside is cool (like late fall or winter) and you should inflate it with a pump not by mouth. That way you will inflate it with cold air when the ambient air is cold as well.
I would advise checking it once a year in the fall just to top it off with air and make sure it didn't shift. Also make sure you install it at arms length into the top of the flue so the suns UV doesn't reach it. UV will shorten the life of the membrane of the balloon.
The Chimney Balloon will plug the chimney better than a fiberglass plug since the balloon will insulate and air seal at the same time. Fiberglass is a great insulator, but it is not an air sealer, so if there are air currents (like in a drafty chimney) it will let cold right through. That is exactly why people call us all the time and say "I plugged my flue with fiberglass but it is still drafty...what is the deal?" - Jason