Chimney Pillow

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Whether you're a novice or an old pro, purchasing a chimney pillow for a fireplace or chimney can be a little bit confusing do to the products various names.

When searching for one, don't be surprised to find them listed as a flue blocker, chimney balloon, fireplace blocker, draft stopper, fireplace pillow or even a fireplace plug.

Since there seems to be no standard when it comes to the product's name, you might be scratching your head wondering if they are all the same and offer the same service.

Regardless of the various names, they are all the same thing.

What Does A Chimney Pillow Do?

When most people think of pillow, they probably think of something that’s comfortable to rest your head on – this has nothing to do with a chimney pillow or its function.

Your chimney and fireplace will still function without one, but when the fireplace is not in use and the cold winds of winter start blowing, you will thank yourself for having one because it helps retain the room’s heat by blocking draughts.

In addition to reducing heat loss, a pillow has several other beneficial functions when the fireplace isn’t in use:

  • It reduces indoor noise coming from outdoors through the chimney opening.
  • It reduces soot and outside debris from dropping through the chimney opening and into the fireplace.
  • Due to the reduction in heat loss by the pillow blocking draughts, it saves money on your heating bill.

What Do They Look Like?

Think beach ball, when it comes to an inflated chimney pillow’s basic description and you can find them in various sizes to fit your fireplace’s particular dimensions.

Chimney Balloon 12"x12" Inflatable Blocker

The pillow portion is transparent and is made of three layers of plastic tri-laminate, which has been treated with special chemicals, making the pillow resistant to tears, durable, long-lasting and with superior abilities to insulate.

Best of all, they are reusable so you don’t have to purchase a new one with every use.

Selecting The Proper Size

With a little measuring, you will be able to find the right pillow for your particular fireplace and chimney. 

Always remember, it’s better to purchase a pillow that is a little too large than one that is too small.

Purchasing one that is approximately 6-inches larger than the installation area is fine, since you will be doing most of the inflation while the pillow is in place inside the chimney.

Below are some tips for selecting the appropriate area to install the pillow and measuring instructions to select the correct size.

Tip: Always wear safety glasses when working inside the chimney so debris doesn’t fall into your eyes. 

  • Wait until the fireplace is completely cool without hot ash, before you begin measuring the area. Cleaning all the cooled ashes out of the fireplace before you begin will make the entire process cleaner.
  • Use a flashlight to find the chimney’s damper, if your chimney has one, as well as the narrowest area you can reach using a 2-foot stick. 
  • Select an area that has no interference from any chimney hardware or the damper flap and is 6-inches in height and where the walls have texture for the pillow to grab onto when inflated so it stays in place. Ideal locations are usually in the bottom portion of the smoke shelf or slightly above the chimney damper.
  • Use a tape measure or folding carpenter’s ruler and measure the depth and length of the area where the pillow will be installed. Using these dimensions allows you to purchase the correct size pillow.

Installing A Chimney Pillow

Chimney pillows are easy to install and remove, and have a plastic tube attached to them so they can be inflated by using a low-pressured pump such as a bellows, or your mouth.

Chimney Balloon 12"x12" Inflatable Blocker

If you accidentally leave the pillow in place and start a fire, it instantly shrivels, deflates and bursts, allowing all the fumes to exit the chimney.

Most pillows come with a red reminder card that you can place inside the fireplace to remind you to remove the pillow before starting a fire

  • Remove the pillow from its packaging and unroll it to make inflation easier. 
  • Attach the inflation tubing to the air valve/hand grip portion of the pillow.
  • Set the valve lever to open so the valve lever is in a parallel position to the inflation tubing. 
  • Inflate the pillow so it just begins to take shape and is floppy. You do not want to inflate the pillow to its full capacity before installing inside the chimney, because it will scrape the chimney’s rough sides and burst.
  • Wear safety glasses and look inside the chimney to locate the place you are going to install the pillow. Insert the pillow in the proper location, being careful not to allow it to scrape the sides of the chimney.
  • Hold the pillow in place with one hand and inflate the pillow with the other. When properly inflated, the pillow should have some spring when pressed with your finger and not be so tight the plastic doesn’t give. 
  • Once inflated, turn the pillow’s inflation valve to the off position. 

Tip: After installing the chimney pillow, make sure the inflation valve portion of the pillow is hanging freely and visible and not caught on anything inside the chimney.

If the valve portion is caught on something and you accidentally light a fire, the pillow might not fall from its location and will stay hung up inside the chimney. 


About the Author

Nick Greenway

Obsessed with firewood, Nick is behind over 350+ of Firewood For Life's articles, as well as countless reviews, guides and YouTube videos to help readers like you reduce heating costs and create the perfect fire.