How to Stop Fireplace Drafts

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While a fireplace makes a home feel even more warm and cozy when in use, an unused fireplace is a source of drafts that result in chilly indoor air and higher heating bills. Cold air naturally sinks while hot air rises, so when the temperature outside is colder than inside, warm air escapes through the chimney while cold, drafty air sinks in. Stopping that cold air in its tracks is simply a matter of installing one of several different types of products designed for this purpose. Choose whichever option seems best suited to your particular fireplace and the amount of effort you wish to use to install the heat-saving device.

Things You'll Need

  • Chimney pillow or balloon
  • Narrow PVC pipe or plastic tube, 8 to 12 inches long
  • Tape measure
  • Glass fireplace door

Inflatable Draft Blocker

  • Insert the chimney pillow into the fireplace opening when the fireplace is completely cold. The inflation area should be facing down. Push the device up the chimney stack far enough so the balloon is not visible from across the room; it should be parallel to the floor.

  • Attach the included pump to the inflation hose on the chimney balloon; you may need to attach the inflation hose to the balloon first. Pump up the balloon until it is almost completely inflated.

  • Push a narrow PVC pipe or plastic tube into one corner of the chimney shaft along the side of the balloon; this adds a small amount of ventilation to the chimney space. The balloon offers a bit of ventilation on its own, without the tube, because of a curved side; the tube merely adds more.

  • Inflate the balloon the rest of the way so it stays in the chimney on its own. Remove the pump and close the balloon nozzle.

  • Tie the string with the reminder tag on it to a fireplace grate, or wedge it under the fireplace door or screen. The string helps keep the balloon from drifting away if a large updraft occurs while the balloon is not completely full of air. The reminder tag serves as reminder to remove the balloon if you wish to use the fireplace.

  • Inspect the balloon every couple of weeks to ensure it is completely inflated. Add more air, as necessary. Deflate and remove the balloon before using the fireplace.

Draft-Stopping Door

  • Add a glass fireplace door to the front of the fireplace to help cut cold air without blocking the view of the fireplace. Measure the front of the fireplace opening with a tape measure to determine the minimum size and height for a fireplace door.

  • Purchase a glass fireplace door designed to insulate against drafts, rather than a folding screen-style door that may be purely decorative. A quality glass door is designed to stay in place even with a fire in the fireplace. If you burn wood in the fireplace, also purchase a mesh screen designed to go between the fire and the glass to help keep embers inside the fireplace.

  • Position the fireplace screen, if using one, inside the opening of the fireplace. Place the glass door against the fireplace opening so it covers the opening completely. Keep the door in place while the fireplace is in use to help prevent heat from escaping the room.

Tips & Warnings

  • For even more draft-stopping protection, a chimney-mounted damper allows you to cap the chimney closed from inside when the fireplace is not in use. Professional installation is recommended unless you have experience climbing to the roof and working on the chimney.
  • In a pinch, you can make your own insulating fireplace insert from a sheet of insulating foam. Cut it so it fits snugly inside the opening of the fireplace, and then wrap it with a decorative fabric, securing the fabric with stick pins or hot glue on the back. Remove the insert whenever you wish to use the fireplace.

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  • Photo Credit DIRDPKC/iStock/Getty Images
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