You expect your fireplace to provide warmth and coziness to your home, and maybe even help reduce your home heating costs. But that fireplace may do more harm than good, as cold air can flow freely down your chimney as easily as it flows in through an open window. The cooling effects of a chimney can be even worse if your chimney is located on an exterior wall of your home, entirely uninsulated. Believe it or not, you can lose up to 8 percent of your home’s heat through your chimney.
You don’t have to be resigned to losing heat through your chimney. There are several ways to keep the cold air out and keep the warm air in, so you can enjoy the heating benefits of your fireplace without suffering from cold drafts when you don’t have a fire burning.
Your chimney’s primary defense against cold drafts is its damper. Many chimneys are installed with a metal throat damper. They don’t seal the chimney entirely, and over time, the metal dampers corrode, wear down or no longer close into place properly. Your chimney sweep will be able to help you assess the state of your damper during your annual chimney sweeping.
If your damper isn’t doing its job of keeping drafts out of your house, you can have it repaired or replaced. If drafts are a major concern in your home, you should consider a top-sealing damper. As the name suggests, top-sealing dampers sit atop your chimney. They are designed to make your chimney air and water tight when closed. In addition to keeping out the cold, they serve the added advantage of keeping animals and debris from entering the chimney.
Another solution for chimney drafts, especially if you don’t use your fireplace frequently, is a chimney plug or balloon. The plugs are inserted up the chimney and thin inflated to close the chimney off entirely from outside air. They can be deflated and removed easily when you wish to use your fireplace. They’re safe, too: If you accidentally light a fire with the chimney balloon in place, it harmlessly deflates. They’ll stay in place indefinitely otherwise. The balloons come in various sizes and shapes to fit different chimney models.
Glass fireplace doors can help to keep some of the chill out of your home and keep warm air from escaping. Some fireplace doors are merely ornamental, but there are fireplace doors with more effective seals to help reduce chimney draft and heat loss. Some people looking for a cheaper option go the do-it-yourself route by purchasing a sheet of insulation from the hardware store, cutting it to fit the fireplace opening and wrapping it in decorating fabric to match the décor of the room.
If cold air traveling down your chimney and into your home has become a major problem, or if you’re trying to reduce your wintertime heating bills, call Environmental Chimney Service Inc. We can examine your chimney and help you find the right solution to benefit from your fireplace’s warmth without suffering from the chill of your chimney’s draft.