The weather is getting cold and a lot of people do not understand the way a fireplace is designed.  In order to allow the smoke to draft out of the fireplace and up the chimney, the fireplace must have a continuous flow that take the smoke out of your room.  This is called an updraft.  This updraft, tends to go on all of the time, even when not burning a fire.  Most dampers are warped or broken, so they are not closing off the air gap.  In the case of gas fireplaces, the damper must be in the open position all of the time, to allow for any gas fumes to go out and up the chimney.  

     To remedy the problem, I covered the fireplace with an insulated, magnetic fireplace cover.  I discovered this solution 6 years ago and have saved a lot of wasted energy going up the chimney.  My room is warm in the winter and much cooler in the summer.  The humidity was entering the chimney and causing the air conditioner to run more often than necessary.  

     There are many energy solutions out there, but none to address the fireplace.  I know everyone does not have a fireplace, but those of us who do, are cold and tired of paying for the heat going up the chimney.

Tags: Fireplace, covers, draft, fireplace

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Nice job!  Mine looks a lot like yours.  Where did you get the cover and how much?  Thanks! --Bryan Gabriel

Fireplace Fashion makes them and they run about $100

I understand that a "chimney balloon" is a common solution to this problem also, and may be preferable aesthetically.

If you like the looks of your fireplace, sure.  It does not address the odors that escape from the firebox, though.  Some people are very sensitive to the toxic odors of the fireplace, whether it be gas or wood burning.  The Fireplace Fashion cover will make an ugly, old or broken fireplace look much better.

The Fireplace Fashion would not work on my particular situation (angled glass doors covering a 1930's masonry fireplace opening) and I truly doubt that it provides an air tight solution for Beverly either - unless the gas log insert was caulked into place. The chimney balloon alone would not work for me either (gas logs with pilot light) and it is a dirty pain to remove, use fireplace, reinstall. I think the chimney balloon combined with an electric insert is the only true solution. Completely block off flue; provide on-demand fireplace ambience with electric heat (if desired). No room air lost, no more "change this to get that, then put it back", on-demand operation. That all being said, I still maintain my old, inefficient system over the colder months for the rare ambience demands but mainly for aux heat if we lose power. Air loss has been acceptable with our glass doors and natural gas prices for the pilot light are much less than the proposed retrofit.

I think the number of chimney draft excluding products is a testimony to what a problem the fireplace can be with the efforts to make a home more efficient and also meet the demands of the homeowner.

Here is a list of the products out there right now to stop chimney drafts:

  • Chimney Balloon (inflatable for in the flue)
  • Chimney Umbrella (deployable for in the flue tile)
  • Chimsoc (inflatable for in the flue)
  • Draft Decor (Magnet for direct vent fireplace vents)
  • Flueblocker (Wool stopper for by the damper)
  • Fireplace Plug (inflatable for in the flue)
  • Fireplace Blanket (Cover for the hearth opening)
  • Fireplace Fashion (Cover for the hearth opening)
  • Fireplace Heatsaver (Cover for the hearth opening)

...and this isn't even all of them! Which one to use all depends on the look or the utility the homeowner is going for, and what type of fireplace application they have.

There are literally hundreds of fireplace configurations in the US. None of the products above are perfect for every application, but as a scope of products they can cover 99% of what is out there.

I would suggest a spring loaded chimney cap as an addition or alternative to 'fireplace fashion' or the chimney balloon if the fireplace is frequently used for 'ambiance'. It should seal the top of the chimney and eliminate any air leakage.

It is my understanding that unless the fireplace is specifically designed to capture the combustion heat and circulate that in the room (or its a sealed gas unit) the updraft created by most fireplaces in normal operation results in a net loss of heat by drawing in cold make up air to allow for a proper updraft.

Regards,
Marco in Redmond, WA

Marco, The trouble with the Lock top and Lymance or any top seal damper, is that when you bottle a chimney at the top and leave it open at the bottom, you still leave room for cold air to enter the home through the firebox. Basically the chimney is an uninstalled brick tube sticking up into the cold night sky. As the cold conducts through the bricks and reaches the inner flue. That column of cold air comes sinking down into the house and creates a draft sensation. It is not a draft from outside air, but it is cold column of air that sinks down and spills out of the firebox into the home.

I do technical support for Chimney Balloon and Flueblocker sizing and installs, and I get calls every day from people that already sank $500-$600 into a top damper, only to then have to put in a Chimney Balloon or Flueblocker down by the firebox to stop the cold "draft". As a matter of fact, today I had 2 calls and 1 email just dealing with top dampers and drafts.

Beverly, I think you have a very nice product. If someone wants to cover their fireplace that could work quite well and it looks like it may seal better than your competitor the Fireplace Blanket. Just a friendly word of advice though... You may want to tone down the sales rhetoric a bit on this forum. We are mostly all here to discuss applications, energy policy, techniques, etc... not necessarily to hawk our wares. That said, if someone asks a question and your product is a contribution to the discussion then jump right in. But overt sales pitches are kind of a no-no.

Just say no to fireplaces inside!  Its just a way to get more CO and other smoky gases.  Now if some one wants a fire place I lead them outside to a fire pit or outside fire place.   I just do not under the use of very smoky producers in your home.  

Thanks Eric.

The best answer is to remove the fireplace and improve air sealing and insulation. All other solutions are whipped cream on a turd pie. 

Our solution was to install a Lopi Answer wood burning insert that vents directly through a metal chimney that goes all the way up through the original 1928 vintage brick chimney in our house.  We have the chimney and the insert cleaned and evaluated  by a Certified Chimney Sweep every year. The results have been a warm house from burning locally gathered wood when trees are blown down or are taken down (sometimes by me) in our immediate neighborhood. I enjoy preparing the firewood with my own saws and wood splitter.  I have probably 10-15 years of firewood in sheds, and I enjoy the heck out of adding to it whenever the opportunity arises.

A brick chimney will take some 70,000 BTU's to heat up to draft on a fireplace.   A Stainless Steel class A same size may take just 1650 BTU's to heat up  and start venting.   An Aluminum flue for a LP gas may take just 600 BTU's to heat up to start venting.   If the chimney stay wet then will rot with wet flue gas all chimney need to dry out each time it turns on.  Short on times just rot chimneys.  Heat makes the chimney work.

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