Condo Blues: How to Make a Gas Fireplace Chimney Balloon/Chimney Pillow

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to Make a Gas Fireplace Chimney Balloon/Chimney Pillow

Even after caulking the windows and adding draft strips to the outside doors of The Condo the living room was chilly during the winter. No matter how high I set the thermostat, there was a mighty draft coming from somewhere in my living room. I set out to find it. I didn’t have to go very far, because according to the US Department of Energy 15% of the heat loss in a home is through an open fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use.

I put a hand in front of the gas fireplace grill and felt a cold breeze. Caught ya you little energy napper!

You can easily solve this problem if you have a wood burning fireplace by just closing the damper. Boom. Problem solved. Unfortunately, I have a gas burning fireplace and the dampers on a gas burning fireplace are permanently kept open.

Since we only use the fireplace during power outages and for entertaining, I wondered if there was a way that I could close the damper when it wasn’t in use to keep the heated air from escaping up the chimney, and save money on my utility bills, and reduce my natural gas usage.

Fortunately, you can stop drafts in a gas fireplace with a Chimney Balloon, or Chimney Pillow . It looks like a Mylar balloon that that you stuff up your chimney when it’s not in use. You can buy one of those or make your own version.

Do I have to even have to tell you that I made my own DIY version? Of course not.

Keep Heat and Utility Bills from Going Up the Chimney

You will need:
Trash bag
Old pillow or towel
Twist tie or tape

Make it:
Serious NOTE: Turn off the pilot light to your gas fireplace before starting this project. This will reduce the chance of a carbon monoxide back draft and since you are stuffing a flammable object up your chimney, it will reduce the chance of anything catching fire around the fireplace’s pilot light or heating elements. If you have any question about whether this possible or doable on your gas fireplace, please check with your gas fireplace manufacturer or a professional installer.
Not So Serious Note: Singing Chim Chim Cher-ee from the movie Mary Poppins is optional but not required before, during, or after you work on this project.

1. Turn off the pilot light to your gas fireplace according to the directions on your fireplace.

2. Put the old pillow or towel in the trash bag and close the bag with the twist tie or tape.


3. Attach the length of ribbon to the tied off end of the trash bag. The ribbon is a visual reminder that you have something stuffed up the chimney and need to remove it before you light a fire in the fireplace.

4. Stuff the old pillow or towel in the trash bag up the chimney. I didn’t need to use ribbon on my chimney pillow because you can see that it’s poking out of the gas fireplace damper.


5. I noticed a draft coming from the hole around the fireplace’s gas line so I used the same technique using an old washcloth in a doggie pick up bag to block that draft too.




6. When you want to use the fireplace, pull on the ribbon to remove the pillow from the chimney, turn on the pilot light according to your fireplace directions, and light your fire!

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Michele @ Frugal Granola said...

What a great idea! Could we do this in our regular wood-burning fireplace, too?

Michele :)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Michele - Over time some regular fireplace dampers get wonky (technical term :)) and won't close properly. This should work for a regular wood-burning fireplace too. Good Luck!

Lisa said...

Thanks for e-mailing Lowes. Thanks to Beth Terry's tip I'm doing research on Ikea and Home Depot's CFL recycling programs so I can hopefully get ahold of some people higher up and make a bigger dent...

LunaMoonbeam said...

that's awesome!! Thanks. :-)

Willo said...

This is a great idea!

Thanks for stopping my blog today.

I will be back, this is great!

batticdoor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I forgot to add in my original post that sealing your fireplace when it isn't in use will help you in the hot summer whether too. The cold conditioned air in your home will also go right up the chimney in hot weather and that means you'll spend more money and energy keeping that room cool.

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Anonymous said...

Great idea. I have a wood burning fireplace but my house is so old (I guess that's the reason) there is no damper. I have glass doors to try and keep the draft to a minimum but I'm going to try your idea. Thanks for posting it!

batticdoor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sabrina said...

I'll have to try this out too. We have a gas fireplace and its frigid when you stand in front of it during the winter months. In fact, we rarely turn it on so why not plug it up! Great post and thanks for visiting my blog!

Qurat Ul Ain said...

I will try this at my home. Thanks for your quality ideas.

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