A few customers have asked whether there are have been any comparative reviews between Chimney Sheep™ and Chimney Balloon. I’ve got the greatest respect for David Woodman, who came up with a solution to the problem of heat loss up chimneys in the 1980’s. Since then Chimney Balloon has become the “Hoover” of chimney draught exclusion: it is the generic term used in articles about draught busting and insulating houses.
The Chimney Balloon is designed to fill the whole chimney void, and be left in place for long periods of time. It can be taken out and reinserted, but this needs to be done carefully so as not to damage it, and it can take a bit of effort to inflate and deflate. By comparison, the Chimney Sheep is designed to fit the chimney throat or the narrow part of the fireplace surround, though it can fit the full chimney as well if there isn’t a narrow bit to fit. The Chimney Sheep is easy to insert and easy to remove, and being made of sturdy Herdwick wool it is very durable and will last for many years. There are 6 standard sizes of Chimney Balloon and these will fit standard chimneys, but there is not much flexibility within these. The Chimney Balloons are not made of stretchy rubber like actual balloons but a clever tri-laminate plastic, which makes it very strong and puncture resistant but not able to stretch to fit many ranges within each size bracket (however due to the use of rubber bands in the construction the Chimney Balloon will fit a greater range than the inflexible PVC copy on the market, the Chimsoc). The Chimney Sheep has a greater number of sizes. Each size of Chimney Sheep will fit a greater range of chimneys than the Chimney Balloon, and the ‘Sheep can be cut down with a pair of scissors if necessary to get a better fit.
So when would you buy a Chimney Balloon? If you accidentally light a fire with the Chimney Balloon in situ, it will instantly shrivel and fall out. If you light a fire with the Chimney Sheep in place, the fire will smoulder and not draw properly, and it’s fire retardant so it won’t burst into flames, which is fine with an open fire but to be honest the Chimney Balloon is a safer bet for gas fires. The Chimsoc by the way, being made of PVC, will withstand more heat and expand until it pops or burns and releases hydrogen chloride gas.
Sinead Hoben’s independent review
Well, it’s for customers to decide which is the preferable product to suit their requirements. Sinead Hoben has written a very thorough account of her journey through chimney draught busting, from her own DIY chimney draught excluder (caused damp) to finding chimney balloons online, to looking for an alternative to the balloon, to finding the Chimney Sheep, to trying out a balloon for comparison.
Hoben’s conclusion is:
“Yes, the Chimney Sheep is a relative new-comer and in some ways is riding the waves of the Chimney Balloon’s success, but I do feel it is simply an easier product to work with.”
The Energy Savings Trust
The Energy Savings Trust changed their advice from “buy a chimney balloon” to “buy a chimney draught excluder” when they became aware that there was an alternative to the balloon. Some other online articles still refer to the chimney balloon as if it was the only option for insulating the chimney. I’ve noticed that online searches include phrases such as “Chimney Balloon substitute” or “Chimney Balloon alternative”. The Chimney Sheep is becoming known for being easier to use, more robust, longer lasting and more accommodating for different chimney sizes than the balloon.