Chimney Blocks

Understanding Different Chimney Blocks Balance Systems

Chimney blocks are also called balance plugs, air dams, and jamb plugs. These key fenestration components are designed to prevent air from flowing into the window balance track. And this occurs by sealing the area around the balance. 

At Frank Lowe, we offer an endless array of chimney blocks of any size that accommodates any window and balance combination. No matter the application, our chimney blocks are engineered to: 

  • Reduce negative air pressure
  • Reduce wind noise
  • Reduce condensation at the meeting rail
  • Stop air from infiltrating the balance pocket and leaking around the sash

While the end goal of a chimney block is to seal the area surrounding the balance, how this is achieved can vary based on the type of window balance being used and how the product is being mounted. Let's take a closer look at different types of window balance systems, how they work, and how fenestration chimney blocks work within these systems. 

What Is a Window Balance? How Does It Work?

In the most simple sense, a window balance is a device used in double-hung and single-hung windows to make opening and closing easier. The window balance is integrated within the frame and makes opening and closing the window smoother and less dangerous. 

Although there are a number of different balance systems, they all operate to balance the weight of the window sash. As the user lifts the window, the balance offers assistance pushing up and reduces the amount of force required to open. 

When closing the window, the balance offers assistance ensuring it doesn't slam too quickly and trap your fingers. Without the window balance, double and single hung windows would be extremely inconvenient to own. 

Block and Tackle Window Balances and Chimney Blocks 

One of the most popular window balances in today's modern unit is the block and tackle window balance. This standard mount balance is used where the balance is stationary within the track. 

The block and tackle window balance is also called the channel balance. No matter the name, this type of balance functions by utilizing two or more pulleys that work with a spring and cord to reduce the amount of weight the user experiences when they lift the sash. 

Block and tackle window balances are easily identifiable by the spring situated in the top section of the balance. This section is visible once you remove the sash from the window. 

A solid chimney block placed above the balance will typically be the solution for standard mount balances. For mounts that are inverted, we usually suggest an adhesive mounted Block and Tackle chimney block. 

These plugs are stuck to the sides of the balance and can be coated with a low friction felt material. This design allows the chimney block to slide within the track without bolstering the amount of pressure required to close and open the sash. 

Spiral Balances

Also known as tube balances, spiral balances are much less common today but may be used in older homes. Spiral balances have a spiral rod housed on the interior of the tube. And they are also called tube balances because of the device that houses the spiral. 

Regardless of the moniker used, the rod is attached to a spring, which offers support to the window. This, in turn, makes it easier for the window to close and open.

With spiral balances, the chimney block is usually manufactured with a hole in the middle. It can also be designed with two holes for double balance systems. In either case, the balance is inserted into the hole; and then the plug and balance are inserted into the balance track before it's anchored. At Frank Lowe, we offer solid chimney blocks that can be placed below the shoe or above the top balance anchor.  

Constant Force Balances

Also known as a coil balance, the constant force balance is a very common type of window balance used on modern windows. These types of balances look very different from the block and tackle balances. Constant force balances are made up of a coil of metal that coils up when the window is open and then uncoils when the window is closed. When it coils up upon opening, it helps limit the weight the user feels. 

Constant force balances are very easy to spot once the window sash is removed because you'll spot the coil of metal. And this coil design is very different from the pulley and spring system that is commonplace in a block and tackle balance. 

Most constant force chimney blocks are engineered with a t-slot design. This allows the actual plug to be positioned around the spring. The balance is then inserted into the track and secured. At Frank Lowe, our solid chimney block can be installed either below the shoe or above the top anchor point. 

Contact Frank Lowe for Chimney Blocks 

At Frank Lowe, we offer custom chimney blocks, jamb plugs, air dams, and balance plugs tailormade for your fenestration application. Our chimney blocks are available in any size to accommodate any window and balance combination. 

Whether you have windows with a constant force balance, spiral balance, block and tackle balance, or any other type, we offer the expertise and solutions to meet the needs of your application. 

  • Available with a single hole, dual-hole, off-center holes, and no holes.
  • Used with block and tackle, spiral and constant force balance systems.
  • Available in custom sizes and can accommodate any window and balanced combination.

Contact Frank Lowe today.

About the Author Randy Cohen

Since 2002, Randy Cohen has served as the Senior Vice President of Frank Lowe — leading Sales and Marketing as well as a variety of Administrative operations. Randy has 25 years of experience with a background in sales & marketing, production and business management, serving both government agencies and private industry. He holds a B.A from Syracuse University and a Masters and Professional Diploma from Fordham University. Randy uses his unique set of experiences to help businesses and entities across all sectors explore, pursue, and create better solutions.

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