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One of the things that sold our house to us was the nice real gas flame open fire in the living room. As is always the way, what we hadn't accounted for was two things.
One:- The fact that as is the nature of cats, our two are extremely curious and we'd often enter the living room and see a cats bum and back legs jutting out of the chimney as they were intrigued as to what mysteries were up there. Have you ever tried to drag an inquisitive cat backwards out of something?, it's hard work as it actually makes them climb further forwards.
Two:- A gust of wind would result in huge lumps of black smut and muck blowing down the chimney and across the pale blue carpet and I soon found these smuts would disintegrate upon touch, imbedding their slightly greasy grime into the carpet, resulting in it needing to be scrubbed several times before the mark would come out properly.
Rather than totally remove the fire or board it up, there had to be a solution to the constant windy problem so after a bit of Googling (which I've become a serious dab hand at in the past few days after our shower made a violent whirr-kerr-thunky-chunk noise, spat water in the Boyfs face and then died) I discovered a nifty little gadget made called a Chimney Balloon.
Yes, you could probably stuff a pillow up your chimney *but* what if you were to forget and then light your fire and then, say, nip off to make yourself a cup of tea and some hot buttered crumpets? By the time you'd got back, your room would either be full of smoke OR you'd have a much bigger fire than you originally intended. The Balloon is designed to be inflated and deflated but the bonus is, if you do happen to be rather scatty and not use the red 'chimney balloon in use' label and you do light a fire, the Balloon simply melts away - no big flames, no dripping plastic, no nasty chemical odors and no troops of big, burly firemen paying you a visit and eating all your crumpets.
So - after a quick web chat with one of the operators who confirmed that if I ordered the wrong size, I could send it back, order the next size up and just pay the difference - I nipped along to the other page and placed my order for a small balloon and an inflation pipe as quite frankly, I can think of better places I'd like to stick my head than up a dirty chimney. Jason Statham's t-shirt being one place that springs to mind.
: ~ Ordering ~ :
Dead quick and so easy. I knew exactly what I was ordering so from selecting the items, entering my card details and pressing send, it took about 30seconds. I know, just think how deadly I can be in a department store in a sale……
As I wanted a print off confirmation I clicked a little tab, printed off all the info and within seconds, received email confirmation of the order and email confirmation of my payment transaction.
: ~ Delivery ~ :
I placed the order late afternoon on Thursday and the site told me they were experiencing a 1-2 day delay in sending out the balloons due to "high demand" so I expected my balloon to arrive around Wednesday.
I received an email early next morning saying my order was being processed, followed by a "Your order has been dispatched" email on Tuesday and my package arrived on Wednesday. However, it was quite bulky so my postman decided to only shove the thing halfway through the letterbox so I had quite a mad tussle (one leg braced against the doorframe) getting it out.
: ~ I'll huff and I'll puff….. ~:
The Balloon is rectangular but two corners are angled off to let a tiny bit of air to circulate so you don't end up with a damp chimney. Once un-packed, attach the inflation pipe, don a pair of gloves and lay down some paper or an old dust sheet as you need to put your hands up the chimney, and whilst supporting the Balloon, puff away on the pipe. As the Balloon inflates, gentle wiggle it into position. With our chimney a short way up the backing plate finishes and there is the chimney brickwork set back a little - this is where the Balloon should go, although there are different style chimneys (some are angled, others straight up), but there are handy pics on the website of where to position the Balloon.
It's not tricky to inflate so unless you have the lung capacity of a gerbil or the worst asthma in the world then it shouldn't pose a problem.
: ~ Recommended? ~:
Opinions vary but anything from 15% to 50% of heat can be lost up an open chimney so if you have an open fire that isn't in use all the time then yes, for the cost of £19.99 for the balloon and £2.50 for the tube, this is so worth it. I'm in the habit of sitting on the floor and as we have concrete floors it would always be a bit chilly but since fitting the Balloon, I can really feel a difference in temperature.
: ~ Info ~:
http://www.doctorenergy.co.uk/acatalog/Chimney_Balloon_Sizing_Chart.pdf A really handy sizing chart to check out.
There are pricing options for lined and un-lined chimneys so I won't list them all, the site is clearly laid out for you to check out the size and price options. They have recently added a "Special Sizes" option for people who have chimneys that don't fit into the standard 'small, medium, large' bracket.