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Monday, 10 December 2012

It twas in the bleak midwinter

Well, early winter to be exact.

log fire

I live in an old house and over the last few years where we have suffered lower temperatures in the past (Global warming anyone?), I have always wondered why downstairs has a poor heat balance, even though I changed the positions of the radiators. The sitting room would be warm but the kitchen would be a tad chilly.

Over the last few years I’ve draught proofed just about everything in the house that could be draught proofed.

It wasn’t till I went to my daughters newly purchased house that I realised the elephant in the room. They had boarded up their fireplace.1

On getting home I held a sheet of the Guardian newspaper* against the fireplace opening and nearly had it ripped out of my grasp by the updraft. It’s a good thing I hadn’t given the job to an infant chimneysweep.

The upshot is that I bought a device like a balloon that you partially inflate, stuff it up the chimney and then fully inflate. It was noticeably different almost immediately. Everywhere is now warm quickly, with no draughts.

There was a couple of problems with the device, you need at least three hands to fit it and one more to hold the inflation tube.

You need to work how much partial inflation is required to begin with, otherwise it won’t go up the flue or it will fall out while you’re trying to blow it up to full pressure.

And you do need to check that it is not deflating, and pump up as required

However if we do get arctic conditions next week it will be removed, as there’s nothing better than sitting in front of a log fire.

* It was actually the Telegraph. The Guardian is only fit for emergency toilet paper.

1 And I call myself an engineer. 0/10 FAIL.


  1. I told you months ago to get a proper iron stove.

    Same effect...

  2. "Over the last few years I’ve draught proofed just about everything ....."

    Now that you've virtually eliminated the airflow up the chimney, check regularly, very regularly, that you haven't cut down the ventilation rate too much.

    Houses (& people) need to breathe. They need fresh-air. Insufficient ventilation in bathrooms & kitchens, (because in use, they have a lot of water vapour) manifests itself as that horrendous black mould.

    If you have a fuel-burning heater / boiler / fire that needs flueing (as opposed to a room-sealed / balanced-flued boiler), it too needs fresh-air for combustion.

    Now that you've cured the greatest heat-loss in the house, if you've draught-proofed in the Kitchen or Bathroom, I recommend at least having some permanently-open Trickle-Vents in those 2 x rooms.

    [Older Victorian-Type houses had plenty of chimneys, so were well-ventilated and rarely suffred mould problems. Modern, air-tight flats are well-insulated, but can suffer from serious condensation/mould problems]

  3. And just for amusement - I have nicked this from the journal of a well know engineering journal _

    See amidst the winter snow
    Temperature is 10 below
    With no power it's such a pain
    Bloody windmill's stopped again.

  4. FE - where did you purchase your inflatable solution from and whats it called? I could do with one of them up my chimney!


  5. @ Monster

    It could have been here..........

  6. This is a very late reply to this post but here goes. It is blowing a gale here at the moment (23/12/2012) and the chimney has been whistling away. Recalling this post I shot out into the garage and cut a piece of MDF with some tapered sides to just fit in the hole in the fireplace/chimney. A bit of gaffer tape to seal the sides and I have turned the thermostat down 2 degrees already. No more noise and the drafts around my feet have gone. We live in a house built in 1889 with the original windows (9 feet tall in the living room) so I have no issues with being too well sealed in. Anyhow now into the cellar to try and block of the drafts in to the kitchen.


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