The draft is an important aspect of any fireplace that usesa real flame to generate heat, such as open wood burning fireplaces, gasfireplace and wood burning stoves.
The draft helps to remove any smoke and harmful particulatesfrom a fire from your home by sucking them out through the chimney or flue. Ifthere wasn’t a draft then these byproducts would potentially be entering intoyour home during fires.
Although the draft can be essential to be able to have firesin your home, a downside is that there can continue to be a draft even whenthe fireplace isn’t in use.
This can lead to warm air being sucked out of your homeand being replaced by colder air from outside, which you’ll feel as acold draft.
One of the solutions to help keep a cold draft out of yourfireplace is using a draft stopper (also known as a fireplace or chimneydraft excluder, plug, blocker or cover) to block up the chimney and helpprevent the movement of air that is generating these cold drafts.
We’ve therefore put together this complete guide tofireplace draft stoppers to explain:
- What a fireplace draft is.
- How you can use a draft stopper to help preventcold drafts from a fireplace.
- What types of draft stoppers are available.
A draft stopper for your fireplace can make a noticeable difference to the temperature of a room or even your whole house. We’ve definitely noticed that our living room hasn’t been so cold since we started using a draft stopper within our open fireplace.
Why Is There A Draft FromMy Fireplace?
Traditional open fireplaces with chimneys use a processknown as the draft to help remove smoke and other byproducts from a fireto leave your home.
As hot air rises up the chimney from an open fire it createsa vacuum behind it that helps to suck more air up the chimney. This inturn sucks more air into the fireplace from the room, providing a firewith a constant supply of fresh oxygen to keep it going.
This continuous process of moving air helps to keep a firegoing in a wood burning fireplace or stove, and no input is required to helpmake this process work.
A downside of relying on the draft to help keep smoke andother harmful particulates out of your home is that there needs to be anunrestricted passageway for them to leave your home.
Having a chimney can therefore be seen as much like leavinga window open in your home, where air is able to freely move in and out.
This leads to the problem that air can move freely up anddown the chimney even when the fireplace isn’t in use. This movement of air cancause:
- Colder air to come down into your home fromoutside.
- Warmer air to be lost up the chimney.
As this can be a common issue with many homes, there are therefore a number of ways to help block off a chimney between fires so that you’re not feeling a cold draft from the fireplace and not losing warm air from your home at an increased rate.
For more information see our complete guide on how a fireplace works.
How To Stop A FireplaceDraft
To stop a fireplace draft close the damper between fires,or use a form of draft stopper such as a chimney balloon or draft excluder if afireplace doesn’t have a damper. The damper must be opened, or the draft stopperremoved, before any fire.
In order to help prevent cold drafts from coming down yourchimney you’ll need to consider blocking off the fireplace from the chimney.
By blocking off the chimney you can help prevent air frommoving through the fireplace, whether it’s losing hot air out of your home orletting colder air into it.
To help stop a fireplace draft you’ll need to use what’sknown as a fireplace draft stopper.
A fireplace draft stopper can come in a range of forms, butits main purpose is to block the movement of air up or down your chimney tohelp prevent cold drafts.
Certain types of draft stoppers may already be presentwithin your chimney, while for others you’ll need to insert them into the topof your fireplace (where the throat of the chimney is located) in betweenfires. It’s also important that whatever is used to block off the chimneybetween fires is removed or opened prior to starting any few fires.
The best types of fireplace draft stoppers to help stop afireplace draft include:
- Chimney Dampers
- Chimney Balloons
- Chimney Draft Excluder (such as a Chimney Sheepâ)
- Fireplace Guard/Cover
You can also choose to have glass doors fitted to the opening of your traditional fireplace and provide a barrier between the fireplace and the room to help prevent cold drafts.
Installing a wood burning stove in an existing fireplace is also another great way to keep your house warmer because the chimney becomes blocked around the flue when it’s installed.
Dampers can be found in many traditional openfireplaces. They are most commonly found as plates located within the base ofthe chimney at the top of the fireplace, but may also be found located at thetop of the chimney known as a top-sealing damper.
A damper is a permanent fixture and can be manuallyopened and closed between fires to help stop a fireplace draft. A dampershould be your go-to draft stopper if your fireplace has one.
A chimney balloon is simply a form of balloon thatyou can blow up within your chimney to provide a tight seal. A chimney ballooncan be a good choice if your fireplace doesn’t have a damper.
A chimney draft excluder is another form of plug for your fireplace that is also useful if there’s no form of damper in your chimney. An example of a draft excluder is a Chimney Sheep, which is a pad of sheep wool insulation that can be placed up the chimney between fires to help prevent cold drafts.
We’ve discussed these main ways on how to stop a fireplacedraft in more detail below.
Fireplace Draft Stoppers
One of the best ways to help prevent a cold draft from youropen fireplace, as well as from losing heat from your home, is to close thedamper.
A damper is an adjustable metal plate commonly found withinthe throat of the chimney, at the inside top of an open fireplace firebox. Atop-sealed damper may also be found at the top of the chimney instead of onelocated at the bottom.
Fireplace dampers that are located within the firebox willbe found with some sort of handle or lever and pulling this handle or leverwill typically close the damper shut.
A closed damper will help prevent the movement of hotor cold air up or down the chimney respectively.
The video below shows how a standard chimney damper works.
If you have a top-sealing damper there should be a chain with a handle located to the side of the firebox. Pulling this lever will open and close the damper.
You can also have a damper installed in your home tohelp stop cold drafts, which will be a more expensive but permanent solutioncompared to using temporary draft stoppers such as chimney balloons or draftexcluders.
For more information on dampers see our complete guide to dampers here.
Be sure to always fully open the damper again prior tostarting fires because a closed damper will mean that smoke any other gaseswill come into your home.
2) Chimney Balloons
Not all fireplaces will have a damper that you can use tohelp prevent cold drafts. In fact, our own living room fireplace doesn’t have adamper and so we have to use another form of fireplace draft stopper.
One of the other options for helping to keep a draft out ofa fireplace is to use a chimney balloon.
A chimney balloon, as the name suggests, works much like aballoon where you need to blow air into it to blow it up.
You can use a chimney balloon by placing it within thebase of your chimney at the top of the open fireplace and blowing it upfrom below.
Although we don’t currently use a chimney balloon to blockoff our living room fireplace chimney, we have done so in the past and it did agood job of keeping the heat in our home and the cold air out.
We’ve personally found that a downside to using a chimneyballoon is that it doesn’t quite provide a tight seal in the corners of thechimney and so a small amount or cold air still passes through.
Chimney balloons are a great way to seal up the fireplace between fires and prevent cold drafts.
You’ll need to size up the internal area of your chimney and choose the right size chimney balloon to provide a good seal.
3) Draft Excluders
If your open fireplace doesn’t have a damper and you don’tto use a chimney balloon, another way to help prevent cold drafts from yourfireplace is to use a dedicated fireplace draft excluder.
There can be a few different types of draft excluders available to buy, but one of the main and most popular products is known as a Chimney Sheep, which uses a thick of layer of sheep wool to prevent air from getting through once installed.
We’re currently using a Chimney Sheep in our living roomtraditional open fireplace and we think it’s great.
You simply have to install the handle on the draft excluderand place it up the chimney from inside the fireplace below.
You may need to shine a light up to check that it’sproviding a good fit as we’ve found that it can be a bit tricky to get theright fit just by feeling.
The only downside that we’ve found when using our Chimney Sheep draft excluder is that the ends of it can become frayed, but this doesn’t seem to affect the performance of it once it’s up the chimney.
We always ensure to remove our draft excluder from ourchimney before starting any fires.
If your fireplace doesn’t have a damper and you’re looking to stop those cold drafts from coming down the chimney then look to use a Chimney Sheep. We’ve found that ours works really well.
You’ll need to measure up the internal flue of your chimney and choose the right size of product accordingly. For our Chimney Sheep we chose one that was slightly bigger so that it provided a tight fit when installed and wouldn’t fall down.
4) Fireplace Guard/Cover
Instead of using the damper to help stop cold drafts from afireplace, or using a form of draft stopper such as a chimney balloon or draftexcluder that sits within the chimney, you can look at using a fireplaceguard or fireplace cover that sits within or in front of the fireplaceopening.
A fireplace draft guard can be a more user-friendly solutioncompared to having to reach up into the chimney between each fire.
The video below explains what a fireplace guard is and howit works.
You can also choose to make a fireplace draft guardyourself. The video below will give some inspiration on what’s possible.
Between fires, an open fireplace can be much like leaving awindow permanently open in your home where a cold draft can be feltcontinuously through the fireplace.
If your chimney has a damper then in the first instanceclose the damper between fires to help block cold drafts.
For fireplaces without dampers, temporary draft blockerssuch as chimney balloons or draft plug excluders can be used to help stop colddrafts, as well as helping to keep warmer air in your home. A fireplace draftguard can also be used in front of the fireplace guard instead of insertingsomething into the chimney
Be sure to always open the damper or take out the draftstopper before lighting any new fires.
A Complete Guide To Fireplace Dampers
Do Open Fireplaces Lose Heat?
Why Open Fireplaces Can Be Drafty