Does your living room have a standard fire place with a chimney? If you answered yes, you probably suffer from wind noise, popping noise and occasional rattling noise as well.
These are all common chimney noises, and there are simple ways to end them once and for all.
Here are 7 easy and affordable ways to make that chimney as quiet as an A grade student in high school.
That’s a strange comparison… but anyway, let’s check em out!
1. Use a Chimney Balloon
This ingenious device alleviates noise by blocking the chimney from the inside.
To install a chimney balloon, you need to place it in the chimney and then inflate it using a tire pump. This can be a bit awkward to do. I advise inflating it to half size first, then placing it inside the chimney and THEN inflating it until it seals the chimney perfectly.
Other than getting rid of the noise, the balloon also keeps the warm air inside the room and blocks the cold air from coming in.
However, there are some problems with using this method.
First of all, the chimney balloon obviously needs to be removed every time before lighting a fire. It has a simple valve that you can press to deflate it in order to get it out easily.
Second problem is that it deflates by itself after some time.
Users have mixed experiences with this. Some say that the balloon lasts them for weeks, others say that it deflates in a few days or less. So they have to inflate it again, which can be annoying after a few times.
Third problem is that it can pop! So make sure not to over-inflate it. You’ll over-inflate it if you get the wrong size.
Luckily, there are over 100 sizes of these chimney balloons. And the manufacturer has made it clear that you should measure your chimney before buying one.
You don’t have to get the measures perfectly, but you need some information to choose between one size or the other.
Here is a video that shows you how to get the measures right:
What do I think of the chimney balloon method?
It certainly has some good sides:
- it’s affordable (about $50)
- it’s reusable
- can last for a few years if you’re careful
- it’s a good thermal and sound insulator
But it’s not perfect:
- has to be removed before lighting a fire
- deflates over time
- it will puncture if you over-inflate it (if you really push it over the edge)
So my advice is to get the chimney balloon if you don’t use your fireplace very often. If you’re just looking for a thermal and sound insulator that you don’t have to take out every day, it’s a practical solution.
Chimney balloons are sold by their original manufacturer on Amazon at the moment. Click here to check out the price and more information.
Having said that, if you use your fireplace often, there are better solutions, so keep reading.
2. Or use a Flueblocker (a chimney plug)
Having said that, installing a flueblocker is more convenient than installing the chimney balloon. All you have to do is push it into the narrow part of the chimney slightly above the fireplace. There’s no inflating, no pressure and no danger of puncture involved.
The only inconvenient aspect is that you have to remove it before lighting a fire, for obvious reasons. But that’s pretty easy to do – just pull it a little! Also, it should not be used if you have a vented gas log fireplace, due to safety reasons.
There are two types of flueblockers available, the round and square/rectangle ones. You should choose the one that matches the design of your chimney.
These are the best-selling flueblockers on Amazon:
Both are made from English sheep wool, and they’re pretty thick, which is necessary to stop noise and cold air dead in their tracks.
Make sure to measure the size of your chimney’s entrance before buying one of these bad boys. The plug should obviously be a bit smaller in order to fit in.
Which is better, a chimney balloon or a flueblocker?
Chimney balloons can be great for some people and annoying for others. Flueblockers are more convenient, because they’re easier to place in and remove. So if I were buying right now, I’d get a flueblocker.
3. Install a Chimney Cap
That’s the main function of a chimney cap. Installing a cap will drastically reduce wind noise, simply because there will be less space for the wind to pass through.
Another benefit of a chimney cap is that you don’t have to worry about rain or animals making their way inside the chimney.
Birds, squirrels and a whole range of small animals can end up in your chimney and even start inhabiting it permanently. They can cause rattling and scratching noises, and it can be quite difficult to get rid of them once they settle in. Putting a cap on your chimney is the best way to prevent these pests from coming in.
On top of these major benefits, chimney caps are a permanent fix. Once you’ve installed one, you don’t have to install it or remove it ever again. It has enough space for the smoke to pass through so the chimney works the same as without one.
Chimney caps like the one I linked above have been used for decades. In recent times, some improvements have been made to chimney caps.
So now there are reverting chimney caps, also known as chimney cowls, which are superior for reducing wind noise.
Chimney Cap vs. Chimney Cowl
The rotating chimney cowl has rotating parts that blocks outside noise and wind even better than a standard cap. If you look carefully, the design resembles a warp gate from sci-fi movies and video games like Freelancer (yes, I’m a big nerd).
The cowl rotates and adjusts itself automatically to the direction from which the wind is blowing. So the cowl catches the wind and blows it in other directions before it can even get inside the chimney. That’s really what makes the difference.
It also has all the other benefits of a standard chimney cap like preventing animals from entering the chimney, reducing temperature leakage and more.
Having said that, the benefits are matched by the price, and a good chimney cowl will cost you between $200-$400, even at big retailers like Amazon.
But if you have some extra cash to invest in a long-term, clean solution that also looks pretty cool this chimney cowl is the real deal.
Oh, and one other MAJOR benefit that both a cap and a cowl have is that they prevent the noise even while you are using the fireplace.
The chimney plug, the balloon and all of the other methods work only when there’s no fire, since you obviously have to remove them beforehand.
So if you want a permanent fix that works even when you’re lighting a fire, the best option is to get one of these.
How to maintain a chimney cowl
What no one mentions is that chimney cowls have to be maintained.
When it’s windy, they rotate and fight against the wind. But this struggle inevitably eats away at the lubrication. So the cowl can start to produce squeaking noise while it rotates.
If you hear this noise, it’s time to add some grease to the rotating components.
I recommend doing this once a year for the sake of maintenance. Here’s a step-by-step article on how to do this.
How to install a chimney cap (or cowl)
Installing most caps and cowls is pretty simple. You just need to place it on the top of the chimney and drive all the screws in.
Make sure it’s firmly in place and that it can’t be moved from the spot when you’re finished.
Here’s a video that shows how to do it:
The more difficult part of this process is climbing the roof.
If you’re afraid of heights or can’t do it because of a medical condition, call a professional or a handy friend to do it for you.
4. Block the chimney with a blanket or a towel
Stuffing the chimney with an old blanket or towels is the cheapest and easiest solution for getting rid of noise and cold air passing through it.
But it’s also the dirtiest solution, which makes it pretty impractical.
If you ever use your fireplace, your chimney is dirty. There’s no way around that. So you can expect any towels or blankets that you stuff inside there to collect dirt. When you want to use the fireplace, removing those items from the chimney beforehand can be quite messy.
Even worse, if you or someone else forgets about them or doesn’t even know that the chimney is blocked, it can very easily start a fire.
So this is an okay solution if you plan on never using your fireplace at all. Or as a temporary solution if you’re absolutely broke. But overall, all the other methods that I’ve mentioned in this article are better.
5. Get a stove
A fireplace will always be noisier than a stove. simply because there are no obstructions in place to tackle the noise. Which is why blocking the chimney using previously mentioned methods is often necessary.
However, getting a stove can be a practical, permanent way to soundproof your chimney. A wood burning stove with a glass front can look pretty awesome as well.
If you have a quality chimney cap or cowl and still hear the wind at times, this is a sure-fire way (no pun intended) to soundproof the place.
6. Fix any holes in the chimney
Holes and cracks in the chimney will inevitably increase the noise or produce their own. This is especially true for thin, metal chimneys.
If it’s cracked, the metal chimney will amplify the wind noise even further. That’s called “structural” or “impact noise” in soundproofing jargon, because the sound is produced by the vibrating structure.
The point being, seal any cracks in the chimney that allow the sound to zig-zag through it.
Banging noise fix
Banging in the chimney is common with older air-cooled chimneys.
The chimney has two layers of metal pipe and spacers in between them for air flow. If the spacers get bent, then one metal layer can bang against another. Hence, the banging noise!
To fix any structural issues like these two, I recommend hiring a professional. Many chimney specialists have their own websites or they’re tagged on Google Maps with their contact information and reviews.
So if you don’t know any local handyman, simply type in Google “chimney repair ____(your location)” and you’re bound to find a few.
7. Clean the chimney to get rid of popping noise
Popping noise is caused by creosote buildup in the chimney. In other words, your chimney is dirty!
When the creosote heats up, it pops, so it’s only heard when the chimney is active. Still, it can be pretty annoying.
You have two options here:
- hire a professional to clean your chimney
- throw a Creosote Buster in the fire
I recommend getting your chimney professionally cleaned if its been years since the last cleaning. Not so much because of the popping noise, but because serious creosote buildup can result in a chimney fire, and that can be a life-threatening situation.
But, the second best option is a product called Creosote Buster that you can use yourself. It’s much cheaper than hiring a pro and it’s pretty effective at getting rid of creosote buildup. This intentionally cheesy fireman will show you how it works:
The manufacturer recommends using Creosote buster after 40 fires or once every season. Personally, I haven’t tried it yet, but a coworker of mine swears by it, and the customer reviews on Amazon aren’t too shabby either.
Howling, banging, popping, scratching, you name it – all of these noises can come from the chimney.
If someone asked me what’s the best quick-fix solution, I’d recommend getting a good flueblocker. Because it will block all kinds of noise regardless of the primary source.
For a long-term solution I would start by getting a cap or a cowl, because then you get the noise reduction even while using the fireplace.
We’ve went through the other top methods as well, their pros and their cons. So once you’ve identified the source(s) of the noise, use as many as you need to show that noisy chimney who’s the real boss.