How to stop wind from blowing down chimney: 3 simple steps you can follow right now
My house was built at the turn of last century, which means it is sturdy and cozy, but it also means its noisy and drafty. It has required quite a bit of soundproofing.
As I have begun playing more attention to noises and sounds around my place, I have noticed that a particularly unnerving wind howl that I often hear is not actually coming from the window or the eaves outside my house. I have realized it is coming down through my chimney.
Every time the wind blows, it’s just like when you blow across a bottle—the wind and noise reverberates throughout the chimney.
I had heard of soundproofing rooms and quiet kettles—but soundproofing a chimney, is that a real thing people do? It turns out that indeed there are several strategies you can use to cut down on the howl of the wind bellowing out through your fireplace.
Below I will discuss a few strategies and items you can use to dampen chimney noise.
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Contents: Skip to section
- How to stop wind from blowing down chimney: 3 simple steps you can follow right now
- Do you want a quiet chimney?
- Before you start
- What you will need to do?
- Step 1: Clean out your chimney
- Step 2: Hang a sound blanket and use blockers
- Step 3: Chimney attachments
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How to stop wind from blowing down chimney: Conclusion
Do you want a quiet chimney?
Chimneys have existed since the Romans who used tubes inside the walls to draw smoke out of bakeries. They began to appear in mansions in the 12th century, but did not become common in houses until the 17th century—quite a history.
The air in a fireplace is much hotter than the air in the chimney and outside, and less dense. This imbalance in air pressure creates a draft or stack effect, drawing the air up the chimney. Stronger drafts result with taller stacks.
But the reverse can happen—strong winds outside can blow air down through the chimney.
If you think about it, a chimney is basically one open pipe with a small tip at the top and a large opening at the bottom—just like a flute or trumpet. Like those instruments, your chimney will pick up and magnify different sounds: wind, rain, animals on your roof etc.
Even without wind, the warm air in your house will naturally drift up out into the colder air (due to that difference in pressure related to temperature variations), leading to a low whistle. Needless to say, with any of these issues, you will have one noisy chimney.
Before you start
So, if you have a chimney with any of the issues described above, then this article will be helpful. You can go a long way to making your chimney quieter than it currently is.
As you’re reading ask yourself the following questions:
How much do you want to spend on this project?
- If you put something up inside the chimney, will you remember to remove it when it’s time to light a fire?
- Do you have a gas fireplace (in which case you may not want to block the chimney)?
- Are you willing to go on the roof or hire someone to go up there?
All of these strategies can be done by a single homeowner; however they do become a little more complex and eventually require climbing up on the roof. I will go through the different strategies below in ascending order of complexity.
What you will need to do?
Below you will be provided with several options.
First you want to ensure you clean out your chimney. It’s good practice and will make the chimney quieter and safer.
The second level of work includes hanging a sound blanket over your fireplace, which will obviously help with drafts, and will block out light noises coming through. To get more serious about soundproofing you can plug the flue with one of several different items created specifically for that purpose.
Lastly, atop the chimney you can attach a variety of items to cut down on wind and block out debris and animals. You can do a few of these, or you can do them all. It just depends on your level of investment.
Step 1: Clean out your chimney
The first thing you should do is make certain your chimney is clean.
Like anything else, if it’s not smooth or is not clean it is liable to catch more wind.
If there is any built-up creosote, then you may hear crackling or popping sounds inside—which is smoldering creosote.
You have a few options in terms of cleaning your chimney. The easiest thing to do is to purchase cleaning logs and a small kit.
If you suspect there is more creosote inside the chimney, then call a professional. Not only for the quiet of a clean chimney, but also for the safety!
You may only need the logs, but if your chimney is older or has not been cleaned in a while, you may want to give it a little extra work. You can clean your chimney from the bottom up with this unique cleaning set.
Connecting rods and adjustable spinning whips allow you to customize this for any chimney size. It attaches to any normal drill to be spun up inside the chimney for cleaning.
Step 2: Hang a sound blanket and use blockers
Aside from cleaning, this is the easiest and most inexpensive option for cutting down on chimney wind noise. There are a few ways to do it, from a moving blanket to using chimney balloons.
There are a number of sound dampening blankets out there. They are heavy and absorb noise—and as a bonus prevent any drafts from coming down your chimney.
This particular blanket comes in multiple colors and has gromets, making it easy to hang.
They also make blankets specifically for your chimney. They are primarily designed to cut down on drafts when the chimney is not in use.
This particular model includes magnets, which you can use to attach it directly to your fireplace screen. While this will help, it may not be as effective as a blanket specifically designed to absorb sound.
The next level option are flue blockers, which come in a number of makes and models. You insert this from your fireplace up inside your chimney. It will help block sounds and drafts and prevent debris from getting down inside your chimney.
These are easy to install and remove and can be cut to fit your flue’s exact size. Keep in mind that if you have a gas fireplace, you should not use anything that blocks the flue, otherwise gas could build up in your room. Obviously, you need to remove it when you go to start a regular wood fire as well.
These come in multiple shapes and sizes including round, square, and rectangle. Choose the one that best fits your flue:
Inflatable options are similar to the flue blockers. These inflate to fill the entire space inside your flue, and will create a tight vacuum seal and will work regardless of the shape and size of your chimney (unlike the plugs above, which must be cut to fit and are harder to clean.)
These require inflation and once they have been inserted and you will need to occasionally check to see if it requires additional inflation.
The primary difference between the pillow and the balloons is that the balloons have an air tube in the center allowing for a little bit of airflow.
These do not and completely block the flow of air. These may be preferred if you have a particularly drafty fireplace.
Step 3: Chimney attachments
These attachments are not only useful to reduce the amount of wind entering the chimney, but also serves additional purposes such as keeping moisture out of the chimney or preventing small animals from getting in.
The chimney cap looks much like a graduating cap, with mesh attaching to your chimney, and a flat cap of aluminum sitting at the top. They are about half the price of the cowl (discussed below), but do not cut out as much wind.
This item sits atop the chimney and is shaped like a sphere made of blades. These aluminum ribs are not actually cutting blades, but they catch the wind and redistribute it so that it never goes down your chimney.
Because of its shape and design, it also blocks animals and debris from getting in your chimney.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How safe is soundproofing a chimney?
Soundproofing a chimney is perfectly safe if you do it right. Plugging the glue with specifically designed items is safe – just do not forget to remove them when it is time to make a fire. Do not use them if you have a gas fireplace. Cleaning should not be a problem, but be prepared to vacuum and for dust and creosote to come down the chimney. Installing the caps requires you to go on the roof, which involves some risk even if you follow all safety measures, but is not harmful to the fireplace or flue.
Can I soundproof a chimney inexpensively?
Yes. You can complete all of the work described above on a relatively small budget. These do not require any special construction and you can do as many or few as you like to achieve your results.
What is benefit of covers and cowls over a flue plug?
Flue plugs are less expensive than cowls and do not require going on to the roof to add them. If you change your mind about them, they are easy to remove them. However, they only work when your fireplace is not in use. If you’re using the fireplace, you must remove them—whereas a cowl atop the chimney can remain year-round all the time.
How to stop wind from blowing down chimney: Conclusion
Chimneys and fireplaces can offer great joy to a household, bringing warmth and fun.
However, the loud whistling that accompanies drafts and the humming that can occur when the wind blows across the top can be distracting at best and disturbing at worst.
Luckily there are several tiers of options that you can try to address those issues.
Hopefully this article has been able to help you with silencing your chimney.
If you have other methods that work better, be sure to leave a comment down below!