REMINDER ABOUT BARBEQUE SAFETY
Barbeques are a great way to enjoy the benefits of solid fuel, however they do need to be treated with respect and users need to be aware of the dangers, particularly from carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which is naturally produced by the combustion of all fuels including both gas and charcoal. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can build up within confined spaces and kill quickly with no warning.
Whether you use a portable hibachi grill, disposable grill, large scale barbeque or even a gas fired model, make sure you keep yourself and others safe by following the basic barbeque rules.

Top four tips for Barbeque safety:
  • Never take a smouldering or lit barbeque into a confined space such as a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking and the coals appear to be dead, the barbeque should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for several hours after use.
  • Never use a barbeque inside to keep you warm.
  • Arrange your cooking area well away from your tent and ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the barbeque is being used.
  • Always use your barbeque equipment in accordance with the operating instructions.
CE MARKING

The Construction Products Directive has been replaced by the Construction Products Regulation. This may not sound much of a difference but it means that all solid fuel appliances placed on the market after this date must be CE marked by law.

Stocks of products already held at retailers on this date will be exempt because they are deemed to be already “on the market”. However appliance manufacturer’s warehouse stocks will need to be CE marked before they pass through the factory gates.
SAFETY BULLETIN REGARDING CHARCOAL GRILL OVENS
There are potential dangers from barbecues and in particular, the fact that coals that appear to be dead can still emit dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.
The HSE have made us aware of two related incidents involving catering establishments where after cooking had finished for the day, unattended charcoal grill ovens caused a build-up of carbon monoxide which subsequently percolated into neighbouring premises and resulted in two cases of carbon monoxide poisoning.
This type of charcoal oven should ideally be flued directly to the outside via a purpose built chimney in accordance with Approved Document J of the Building Regulations. However, we are aware that in some cases, the grill is simply positioned beneath a commercial kitchen extractor as shown in the picture.
There are two major risks that need to be guarded against when using this arrangement:
  • Lack of proper maintenance can lead to blockage or failure of the extraction system – it is important to follow exactly the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
  • Because dangerous products of combustion (including CO) will still be emitted after cooking finishes for the day, the extraction system must be kept working for as long as is necessary to prevent a build-up of poisonous fumes.
The oven manufacturer’s instructions for installation, maintenance and use should always be carefully followed.
GUIDE TO WOOD AND MULTIFUEL PART 3 - THE DANGERS OF BURNING UNSEASONED WOOD

Burning unseasoned logs can result in two very serious problems associated with condensation in the chimney - blockages and chimney fires.

Water vapour combines with other gases and particles going up the chimney and unless the chimney is kept warm, the condensation forms a creosote-like substance which hardens to form tar on the surface of chimney liners and may seep into brickwork in an unlined chimney. Wet logs cause the chimney to cool and so condensation occurs and a residue is formed. This residue is brown or black and can be flaky, sticky, runny, tar-like or hardened and will sometimes be all of these in the same flue. The chimney may become completely blocked or the volatile residue can ignite causing a dangerous chimney fire.

The excessive condensation from wet wood which normally forms in the upper part of the chimney is acidic in nature and can also corrode the inner surface of a metal liner, eventually leading to perforation and failure of the liner.
To avoid these problems, the SFA recommend that only well-seasoned or kiln dried firewood with low moisture content (less than 25%) should be used.


150mm chimney liner blocked with deposits

SPECIAL SOLID FUEL FEATURE- WHEN IT COMES TO PIZZA IN NEW YORK, COAL IS KING
In the early days, American pizza was always cooked using coal which Italian immigrants found the most cost-effective way to heat their ovens. With the introduction of electricity and gas came inexpensive, mass-produced pizzas with softer, doughier crusts, cooked at lower temperatures.

But now, the wheel has turned full circle and a new generation of pizza-maker is building coal-fired ovens and serving up distinctive creations with charred, stretchy-yet-crisp bottoms.
Famous establishments such as Grimaldi’s Brooklyn Bridge pizzeria built their reputations on coal fired pizza, attracting the patronage of bon viveur celebrities such as Frank Sinatra. This was originally a New York thing but now pizzerias all across America are turning to coal.

Coal fired pizza is reckoned to be better by its aficionados because the ovens heat up to a much higher temperature, cooking the pizza in as little as two minutes. This produces a thinner, crispier pizza, packed with flavour.

The coal used is Anthracite which is a cleaner-burning fuel source than wood and restaurateurs find that a coal-fired oven is much easier to maintain than a wood fired one.
Most trends from America eventually make it across the Atlantic so perhaps we can look forward to the first British crispy coal-fired pizzas soon….yum!
GUIDE TO WOOD AND MULTIFUEL PART 2- PREPARATION OF FIREWOOD
Moisture content of wood
Trees vary enormously in moisture content when felled. In summer, up to 65% of the weight of newly felled timber can be water.
Forestry work continues all year round but for the domestic heating market, trees should be felled ideally in winter and certainly before the end of March when the moisture content starts to dramatically increase. Trees felled in summer will take much longer to season. Some species of trees felled in winter will be ready for use the following winter. The target moisture content for firewood is 20% or less (wet basis) and this is often specified by the appliance manufacturer. Firewood ready for burning should never contain more than 25% moisture.
Note - Consistently low moisture content is also achieved by kiln drying.
Log storage
A log store of at least 1.5 m³ is recommended where a property is heated by a log burning stove so that a standard delivery of 1m³ can be accommodated when the store is still a quarter full. The store should be roofed and well ventilated on at least two sides.
Proprietary wood stores are available in various sizes.
Where the intention is to buy unseasoned “wet” or “green” wood, a much larger storage capacity will be required so that logs obtained one or two years previously can be properly stored for the duration of the seasoning process i.e. storage capacity for three years supply of hardwood and two years for softwood will be required.
The logs should ideally be stored under cover and off the ground but open on at least two sides so that air can pass through. A sunny and windy location is ideal. The logs should ideally be no more than 10cm (4?) thick and cut to a convenient length for the stove or grate (Any logs with a diameter greater than 6” (150mm) should be split before storage).
The logs will lose 10-25% of moisture a year in this way, depending on the type of tree. Some of the hard woods such as Beech, Elm and Oak require two if not three summers to season thoroughly.
Top tip -Seasoned logs will typically have bark which comes away easily, splits across the grain and will create a hollow ringing sound when two logs are knocked together rather than the dull thud of wet wood.
The effect of moisture upon appliance efficiency
It is very inefficient to burn inadequately seasoned logs because much of the heat produced as the wood burns will be required to drive off the moisture contained within the logs as steam.

You would need to burn around three times as many unseasoned logs to achieve the same heat output as well seasoned or kiln dried logs (see illustration).
seasoned unseasoned
GUIDE TO WOOD AND MULTIFUEL PART 1- INTRODUCTION TO WOOD TYPES
Wood fuel can be divided into two main categories – “Hardwood” from deciduous trees and “Softwood” from conifers or evergreens.

Hardwood versus softwood
Hardwood is denser than softwood so has a higher heat content or calorific value. Typically, the heat content of softwood is a little more than half as much as hardwood by volume.
Typical heat content of hardwood 2,300kWh/m³ (stacked)
Typical heat content of softwood 1,300kWh/m³ (stacked)

Broadly speaking, around twice as many softwood logs as hardwood logs may be required to achieve the same heat output so more frequent refueling will be necessary when burning softwood. On the other hand, softwood tends to light more easily than hardwood and burns faster due to its resin content. It gives more immediate heat so is ideal for kindling and initial burning.

1. Some common wood types suitable for both open fires and closed appliances
Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elm, Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Hazel, Hornbeam, Maple, Oak, Rowan, Sycamore, Wild Cherry, Willow, Alder, Apple, Pear, Holly.
2. Wood types prone to crackling and spitting- suitable for closed appliances only (stoves and cookers)
Cedar, Douglas Fir, Horse Chestnut, Larch, Plane, Sweet Chestnut, Willow.
In general, softwoods tend to be more prone to popping and spitting because of pockets of moisture or sap contained within the wood.
The risk of spitting will be reduced by effective seasoning or drying.
Important Note: never leave an open fire unattended without a fireguard!
3. Other common wood types and their characteristics
Elder –Produces a thick acrid smoke.
Lime – A low quality fuel.
Pine species generally (including Leylandi) – Can form oily soot deposits in a chimney.
Poplar – Traditionally used for matchsticks, poor heat output but useful for kindling.
Spruce – A low quality firewood for use in closed appliances only.
Note: Laburnum and Yew are poisonous so care must be exercised when using as firewood. Because of the contamination risk, they are not recommended for cookers. However, Yew in particular gives good heat in a stove.
Properties of different wood types
Species of wood Density (solid)
kg/m³
Heat content
kWh/kg(btu/lb)
% moisture
when green
Summers
to season
ASH 674 4.1 (6,350) 35 1
BEECH 690 4.3 (6,700) 45 1-2
BIRCH 662 4.1 (6,350) 45 1
ELM 540 3.6 (5,600) 60 2-3
OAK 770 4.5 (7,000) 50 2-3
POPLAR 465 2.6 (4,100) 65 1
PINE / FIR 410 2.6 (4,100) 60 1
4. Recovered wood
Recovered wood (joinery offcuts) should be clean, cut to length and not treated or painted. Chipboard, plywood and MDF should not be burnt as they contain chemical binders and adhesives which could produce toxic emissions which adversely affect the inner surface of the chimney.
Please note that so-called “tanalised” timber contains arsenic.

TOP TEN REASONS TO CHOOSE MULTIFUEL
The SFA have been foremost in promoting woodburning stoves in the UK for many years. However, we are of the firm belief that it is the multifuel stove rather than the pure wood burning stove or pellet stove which offers the consumer the clearest benefit. Here are ten reasons why.
  1. Choice- The owner of a multifuel stove has the widest range of fuels to choose from including the superior comfort and convenience offered by solid mineral fuel. Many newcomers to wood burning underestimate the amount of wood and the frequency of refueling required to maintain heat output. As we will see later on, burning mineral fuel can help address both of these issues.
  2. Cost effectiveness - According to the Sutherland tables, solid smokeless mineral fuel is the most cost effective method of heating a room. Moreover solid fuel central heating is less expensive than LPG, oil and biomass.
  3. Convenience- When mineral fuel is burnt on a stove, the refueling interval will be far greater than when burning wood alone (four to five hours compared to half to one hour for wood fuel). This can make it easier for the stove to fit into a busy modern lifestyle.
  4. Overnight burning- It is quite possible for the stove to burn through the night with mineral fuel.
  5. Supply- During extended periods of cold weather, good quality well-seasoned wood fuel can become very scarce. A reliable supply of mineral fuel from your local coal merchant can sustain your stove through these periods.
  6. Security- With a multifuel stove, the room can be kept warm and cosy even during power cuts. A kettle on a flat-topped stove could provide a warming cup of tea or coffee. Moreover, a jacket potato cooked in the ashpit or hot buttered toast could also be on the menu with a multifuel stove!
  7. Heat content of solid fuel- One full bunker of mineral fuel is likely to contain as much heat energy as up to four bulk bags (cubic metres) of logs.
  8. Self-sufficiency- The beauty of solid fuel is that you can hold stock. This insulates the customer against price increases. A full bunker of mineral fuel could easily sustain a roomheater throughout the winter or even keep a boiler model running through a prolonged period of cold weather when suitable wood fuel may be difficult to source.
  9. Environment- Imported wood fuels are likely to be the product of large scale felling of forests which completely destroys the natural environment and prematurely liberates huge quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the wood. By way of a contrast, coal mining is always carried out with due regard to conservation and the environment. Indeed, the restoration work carried out by mining companies after mining ceases can actually increase the environmental and amenity value of land which was previously derelict.
  10. Carbon emissions – Recent studies have suggested that typical carbon dioxide emissions from processed wood-based “biomass” products such as wood pellets are 50% greater than coal. However, a stove burning a mixture of coal and well-seasoned wood from a sustainable local source is likely to have a smaller “carbon foot print” than a gas appliance.
Finally, 70% of customers can’t be wrong – It is estimated that around 70% of stove buyers choose the multifuel option.
OPENING UP YOUR FIREPLACE
More and more people are opening up their fireplaces to enjoy the warmth and comfort of an open coal fire. The 'living flame' becomes the focus of the room and the family.
An open fire always creates a cosy sense of well-being.
There are hundreds of different styles to choose from and they all offer the 'living flame' and reassuring glow that only a real fire can provide.
The open fire provides heat for your home by direct radiation, although some fires are available with a convection chamber to circulate warm air around the room.
Controllable open fires are capable of slow burning through the night for up to eight hours on one fueling (mineral fuel) and easy slide-out ash pans allow the removal of ash without having to let the fire go out.
Free standing canopy open fires are also available for installation into large inglenook fireplace openings.
For more information see our literature section for the downloads “Opening up your fireplace” and “Period Fireplaces”
BARBEQUE SAFETY
Barbeques are a great way to enjoy the benefits of solid fuel outdoors. However, they have been linked to several camp-site deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is naturally produced by the combustion of all fuels including both gas and charcoal. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can build up within confined spaces and kill quickly with no warning.

Whether you use a portable hibachi grill, disposable grill, large scale barbeque or even a gas fired model, make sure you keep yourself and others safe by following the basic barbeque rules.

Top four tips for Barbeque safety:
  • Never take a smouldering or lit barbeque into a confined space such as a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking and the coals appear to be dead, the barbeque should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for some hours after use.
  • Never use a barbeque inside to keep you warm.
  • Arrange your cooking area well away from your tent and ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the barbeque is being used.
  • Always use your barbeque equipment in accordance with the operating instructions.
TWO EXCITING GUIDES PUBLISHED BY THE SOLID FUEL ASSOCIATION
The guides are available to download. See our LITERATURE page for these and other informative solid fuel publications.

Solid Fuel Association Guide to Wood and Multifuel
Coal merchants have always traditionally sold firewood alongside coal. However, renewed interest by consumers in burning wood, mainly in multifuel stoves, is stimulating a growing demand for wood fuel. This guide is designed to help people to select and burn firewood safely and efficiently. Wood fuel can be divided into two main categories – “Hardwood” from deciduous trees and “Softwood” from conifers or evergreens.
SFA Guide to Solid Mineral Fuels
A guide to suitable applications for solid mineral fuels including:
Open Fires; Closed appliances (Roomheaters, Multifuel stoves and Cookers); AGA type heat storage cookers & Gravity Feed Boilers
BECOME SELF -SUFFICIENT IN ENERGY IN THE WINTER WITH SOLID FUEL
Energy news for Britain does not inspire confidence. Older coal fired and nuclear power stations are to be retired prematurely, unsustainably expensive renewables are pushing up prices and failing to fill the gap, many new plants are going to be fueled with gas imported from unstable foreign sources along pipe lines vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Reading between the lines of energy news, it would be quite reasonable to expect power cuts and fuel shortages in the future.

We all hope that the worst case scenarios never happen but is there any way to mitigate the risk? Surprisingly, the answer is yes - with solid fuel heating.

The beauty of solid fuel is that you can hold stock. This not only insulates the consumer against the effect of sudden price increases but it also means that users of solid fuel have a degree of self-sufficiency which other fuels just cannot match.

A multifuel stove with boiler does not need electricity to produce heat and hot water and because of the high calorific value of solid mineral fuel (about four times that of wood by volume) a full coal bunker like the ones pictured could sustain a stove through the worst of the winter.

A non-boiler model of the type that many people use for secondary heating could easily heat one room throughout the winter with just one full bunker. If the stove was flat-topped, a kettle of hot water would also be available, even during power cuts.

If you are off the gas grid in particular, you will find that solid fuel is one of the most cost-effective ways to heat your home along with the added benefits of security and self-sufficiency.

MULTIFUEL STOVES LEAD THE WAY
Sales of solid fuel stoves have soared over recent years. Aside from the practical advantages of solid fuel, a stove makes a fashionable addition to the modern home and no other heating system can match the “wow” factor or the cosy sense of comfort and well-being that an open fire or stove lends to a room. To many people, the cosy glow and flickering flames are part of what makes a house into a home.
The vast majority of the so-called “woodburning stoves” installed should be more properly referred to as “multifuel” stoves and it is this type rather than the wood-only stove that has experienced the greatest increase in popularity.
The main advantage of a multifuel stove is that it can burn a range of solid fuels as well as wood. This gives the user the added convenience offered by mineral fuels and the flexibility of being able to select fuel according to price and availability.
Reasons to choose a multifuel stove:
Contemporary multifuel stoves
  • Low running costs - Solid fuel is an efficient and economical method of heating. According to the Sutherland comparative heating tables, the cost of central heating with anthracite has been consistently lower than both oil and LPG and is actually on a par with natural gas.
    Moreover, the solid fuel roomheater is reckoned to be the most cost effective method of space heating.
  • Health - Solid fuel heating can greatly reduce condensation, eliminating household mould. Medical research has also suggested in the past that solid fuel heating can reduce the risk of hay fever, asthma and eczema.
    Homes with solid fuel heating are better ventilated than those with other forms of heating because the chimney causes fresh air to be drawn in and evacuates the stale air.
  • Availability - Solid fuel users in almost all areas enjoy the benefits of a well-developed and regulated distribution system via local members of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme. As the UK still has enormous reserves of coal, future supplies are assured. Supplies of firewood are also set to increase in line with the increased demand from multifuel stoves.
  • Convenience - The frequency of refueling and the quantity of wood needed to maintain adequate heat output can be underestimated by newcomers to wood burning.
    Fortunately, the calorific value of a mineral fuel such as anthracite is around four times that of wood and its heat output is more sustained. Therefore, the mutifuel stove can provide the “best of both worlds” by allowing the wood burning enthusiast to also enjoy the practical benefits of coal when required such as reduced frequency of refueling and even overnight burning.
  • Security of supply - solid fuel stove owners can feel secure in the knowledge that if they have fuel in stock, they will always be able to keep warm and cosy. Indeed, with a flat topped stove, a kettle of boiling water is only a few moments away! Moreover, in an uncertain world, investment in solid fuel heating can provide an insurance policy against the threat of future gas and power cuts or the volatile price fluctuations of other domestic fuels.
  • Choice and flexibility –In smoke control areas, smokeless solid fuels such as anthracite can still be burnt and even seasoned firewood can be used if the appliance is one of the DEFRA exempted models.
  • CO2 - Those users concerned about CO2 emissions may be surprised to learn that a stove burning a 50:50 mix of wood and coal can have a smaller carbon footprint than a typical gas boiler.
A stove can be used as the primary central heating source, an occasional secondary heat source or even linked up to an existing open vented oil or gas central heating system.
SFA stove manufacturers page
Link up

KEEP SAFE WITH THE SFA
“Safety Guide for Solid Fuel Users” is available for download from this site. The guide clearly highlights the three golden rules of safety for solid fuel - proper ventilation, regular sweeping and the correct fuel.
This guide is also available as an A4 double sided leaflet from the SFA and can be ordered on our literature page.
As well as the private solid fuel user, the guide may be of particular interest to local authority housing departments for distribution to their tenants.
download here

AN HOUR IN THE WOOD YARD
Certainly Wood is the largest specialist firewood producer in the UK having pioneered the kiln drying process for firewood ten years ago. They were also the first company to be approved by HETAS under their new Solid Biomass Assurance Scheme.
The link below is to a time lapse video which condenses an hour’s worth of frantic activity at Certainly Wood’s yard in rural Herefordshire down to just 60 seconds.
“Where’s Wally?” Just for fun, see if you can spot him (Wally makes four appearances).
http://www.certainlywood.co.uk/certainly-wood-videos
WHAT HAVE DOGS, CATS AND MICE GOT TO DO WITH SOLID FUEL?
It’s a question that people sometimes ask about our distinctive SFA logo.

Well, to get the answer you need to go back to 1988 and our iconic “Real Fire” adverts. Click on the “Real Fire” link at TVARK and enjoy one of the most memorable adverts ever made! See our Iconic advert at TVARK http://www2.tv-ark.org.uk/adverts/r.html
LEARN MORE ABOUT COAL
How much do you know about Britain’s most important indigenous natural resource?

Visit our education section to find out more about coal, coal-mining, power generation, coal’s heritage in Britain and interesting places to visit for all the family.
HETAS HAS EUROPEAN CERTIFICATION
HETAS has been approved by the European Pellet Council as the only UK accreditation body for the ENplus scheme.
ENplus is a Europe wide quality assurance system for wood pellets which sets out minimum standards for ash content, ash melting temperature, pellet size, dust, moisture content and heat output.
HETAS also run the Solid Biomass Assurance Scheme (SBAS) which was launched last year (See previous article “BIOMASS NEWS - Solid Assurance from HETAS”)
ENERGY NEWS - Carbon Commitments Could Leave Britons in the Dark
Political activists appear to be dictating Government policy as Energy Secretary Chris Huhne commits Britain to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.
The indication is that British industry and commerce is going to be hampered by ever harsher “green” stealth taxes as the coalition Government abandons the carrot in favour of bigger and bigger green sticks.

An overly complex and increasingly punitive array of inflationary carbon taxes may derail the economic recovery and could well leave Britain with a dangerous energy shortfall by 2020 as ageing coal fired power stations, currently the mainstay of Britain’s electricity supply are decommissioned without new ones being built and without any viable and secure alternative being available.

The Coalition remains determined that Britain stays at the cutting edge of carbon reduction commitments by introducing potentially crippling carbon pricing measures whilst other European countries are content to sit on their hands and do the minimum required by EU agreements.

Indeed, it is even possible that in the medium term, conditions in Britain could become so hostile to coal fired generation that our valuable indigenous natural reserves could be exported to Germany or Poland whilst British people pay through the nose for electricity generated using imported gas.

Many vulnerable gas and electricity consumers could be put at risk if keeping warm becomes a luxury.

A recent ONS survey suggesting that the number of Britons sceptical of man-made climate change has doubled since 2006 indicates that the Government’s approach could well be out of step with the public opinion.

Significantly, only one quarter of those asked in a recent “Populus” poll carried out for the BBC believed climate change was happening and "now established as largely man-made".

At the SFA, we believe that the priority for most British people is secure and affordable energy supplies to keep the lights on during severe British winters.
We recommend consumers to seriously consider investing in future-proof solid mineral fuel and biomass heating for their homes as an insurance policy against the possibility of future gas and power cuts.

BIOMASS NEWS - Solid Assurance from HETAS
Wood based fuel quality can be certified as part of a scheme launched by HETAS. The Solid Biomass Assurance Scheme (SBAS) was launched with the support of Government funding from the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC). It enables wood fuel and biomass producers to market their products using the recognised HETAS SBAS logo to provide customers with a mark of quality assurance.
At the official launch of the scheme at Westonbirt Arboretum, Project Manager Mark Russell explained “Good quality fuel is essential for safe and efficient combustion, whereas poor quality fuel will burn badly, wasting energy and money. At the moment there is no clear labeling for wood or biomass fuel, but SBAS addresses this issue and can provide consumers the confidence they are choosing the best product appropriate to their appliance.”

Moisture content has the biggest effect on heat output from wood. Any water in the fuel has to evaporate away before the wood or biomass will burn, using up energy and reducing the amount of useful heat as opposed to steam up the chimney. Wood and biomass with a high moisture content can be exceptionally difficult to light, and will produce lots of smoke and tars. These tars can be corrosive, potentially damaging the lining of the flue and increasing the danger of a chimney fire. The maximum moisture content allowed for SBAS is different depending on the fuel category.

Although the woodland area in Britain is limited, there is sufficient timber to meet foreseeable future demand. Managing woodland improves biodiversity and increasing the proportion of managed woodland supports jobs in the forestry industry. Replacing imported fuels such as gas and oil with locally produced wood fuel improves fuel security and encourages local community.

A full list of SBAS approved fuel suppliers will be available on the HETAS website at www.hetas.co.uk.


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BEWARE THE BIG FREEZE
Be aware of the risks which may result from frozen water pipes. Apart from the inconvenience of water leaks resulting from the damage caused by expanding ice, there is a real danger should you try to light your fire or boiler before the pipes are fully thawed.
If the pipework is frozen when the fire is lit there is no way the hot water can circulate around the system. This could result in a build up of pressure within the boiler, resulting in an explosion and consequential injury to occupants.
Under no circumstances light a fire before the pipes are thawed !


SEASONAL TIPS
Before firing up your home heating at the start of Autumn, there are a few important jobs which need attention:
  • Don’t forget, if you have not already done so, it is advisable to get the chimney swept before lighting the fire. Perhaps a task better scheduled for the summer months.
  • The chimney is a very important part of your heating system, designed to efficiently remove toxic flue gasses to the outside of your property. Blockages or restrictions in the flue, which may occur following periods of heavy rain, can result in exposure to carbon monoxide which is very dangerous. Any doubts about the condition of your chimney should be investigated by a chimney engineer to identify potential risks.
  • There is increasing public awareness of the risks from CO poisoning and advisory literature is shortly to be distributed to customers. Carbon monoxide alarms are widely available at affordable prices.
  • All heating appliances need annual servicing, rather like your car. This will ensure it operates safely and efficiently. Routine checks of flues, door seals, air controls and fire parts will help to ensure you get maximum value from the fuel burned. Similarly, your central heating system may benefit from an annual check-over. We recommend this work be carried out by a qualified HETAS Registered Engineer to be found on www.hetas.co.uk .
  • Of course, don’t forget to order your winter fuel before the cold weather sets in. It’s no good waiting until the last minute before contacting your Coal Merchant. They cannot respond quickly to fulfil your needs when demand is high.
WORRIED ABOUT HIGH WINTER HEATING COSTS ?
Here are just some of the benefits of Solid Fuel and Wood heating systems:


  • Heating a room with Solid Fuel is usually cheaper than by oil or gas.
  • Most Solid Fuel appliances are multi-fuel meaning you can burn both coal and wood.
  • A Solid Fuel appliance with a boiler can be linked to many central heating systems to enable you to cut the cost of heating bills whilst you enjoy the benefits of a real fire. For more information download the Link-Up leaflet from our website literature page.
  • A chimney promotes healthy circulation of air in a dwelling.
  • Simple open fires and stoves do not need electricity to operate.
  • There are nearly 1000 Coal Merchants throughout the UK and supplies of wood and coal are also available from supermarkets, farmer’s cooperatives and garage forecourts. For details of your nearest Coal Merchant look on the Approved Coal Merchant pages of our website.

    Solid Fuel Heating System could save you money and add to your comfort and security.


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SOLID FUEL HEATING - FACTS ON HEALTH BENEFITS
There are certain health benefits associated with the open flue function that is necessary for combustion in all solid fuel appliances. The open flue way not only removes the products of combustion safety out of the home but also draws in fresh supplies of air. British Standards specify the minimum ventilation rates for various rooms in domestic dwellings – gas radiant fires and electric heating compare poorly with solid fuel in this respect.

The constant cycle of air coupled with continuous heat has two direct benefits:
  • It minimizes the incidence of condensation and mould growth problems which plague so many gas and electric heated homes. Spores of mould are allergenic and a source of bronchial irritation.
  • it removes via the chimney other gases and particles in the air which may give rise to bronchial disorders such as asthma, hay fever etc.

Medical research has demonstrated that people living in houses with solid fuel heating are significantly less likely to suffer from asthma and hay fever compared to those living in houses with other forms of heating. (Copy of research available on request).

Your chimney has other benefits too. It acts as a heat store and will release heat into the dwelling after the fire has gone out.

NO CHIMNEY ? - NO PROBLEM

Installing a chimney these days is not as difficult as you might think. We can put you in touch with a specialist company who can survey your home, provided a quotation and undertake the most suitable installation. With a chimney available, the choice of appliances is vast.

For free advice and information contact The Solid Fuel Association on 0845 601 4406 / 01773 835400.

DON'T WAIT FOR THE LIGHTS TO GO OUT !
Be one step ahead - you do not need to be without heat
Most of the things we take for granted rely upon a power supply, but the newspaper headlines tell us to expect power failures. A flat topped solid fuel stove not only provides warmth to beat the cold with a welcoming glow from the fire, but the option to boil a kettle, and heat up food. Having some form of solid fuel heating enables you to keep warm and secure in the knowledge that your fuel supplies are largely unaffected by the potential supply problems faced with electricity, oil and gas, most of which will soon be imported.
Solid fuel heating offers healthy, affordable warmth and works independently of electricity


WHAT CAN THE APPROVED COAL MERCHANTS SCHEME DO FOR ME?
The Approved Coal Merchant’s Scheme is a Code of Practice for Retail Coal Merchants. Membership of the Scheme is voluntary, but 80% of coal merchants belong to it. The Code of Practice lays down certain standards designed to ensure that retail solid fuel customers get a good service from their coal merchant. A coal merchant can only become a member of the Scheme if he/she can satisfy a panel of industry peers that he/she has sufficient knowledge of fuels and appliances, the law relating to retail coal deliveries and matters of safety. The merchant must also satisfy the Panel that customers will be able to rely on good service. You will find an up to date list of Scheme members on our Approved Coal Merchants page. 
All coal merchants who are members of the scheme must have a procedure for dealing with customer complaints and any complaints should be addressed promptly. Should a customer not be satisfied with a response to a complaint, the Scheme will intervene to help to resolve the matter. We have Regional Coordinators who can visit customers if matters cannot be resolved over the telephone, which they often can be.
What sort of complaints might you have? - Sometimes customers are unsure if they have a valid reason to complain. Maybe they have changed merchants and the fuel they are getting is different. Maybe the fuel is very dusty or very wet? Perhaps the manufactured fuel doesn't’t seem to burn like the last load. We are happy to listen to what customers have to say and make suggestions as to the cause of the problem. It may be the fuel, the appliance, or how customer is using the appliance. If there is a problem with the fuel, we can ask the manufacturer or the coal merchant to sort the problem out. If we think that there is something wrong with the appliance or the chimney, we can put the customer in touch with an engineer or a chimney sweep. All complaints are logged and reported to the National Panel. Merchants can have their membership of the scheme terminated if they fail to uphold the rules.
Who Governs the Scheme? - The National Panel (membership on the Area Panels reflect this) consists of senior representatives from the coal producers and manufacturers, the merchants, the wholesalers and most importantly, two consumer representatives (one on Area Panels). The Scheme also has an independent Chairman. If a merchant or a customer is not satisfied by the way the scheme has treated them, there is a right of appeal to the Chairman, who will usually investigate with his consumer colleagues. Such occasions are however rare.
We hope that you will be entirely satisfied with your fuel, but if you have a complaint, or a query about quality, you can telephone us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday. Ask for Jim Lambeth. You can ring the same number for a copy of the Code of Practice. 0845 601 4406 / 01773 835400
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SAVE MONEY BY BUYING FUEL IN OPEN SACKS

If you buy your fuel in prepacks from a cash & carry outlet, consider saving money by buying in open sacks from your local merchant and the fuel will be delivered to your door.


REMEMBER YOUR SAFETY !

It's important to have your chimney swept at least once a year and 'there's no time like the present'. Our safety page will give you more information on the safety of your solid fuel appliance. We can also help you find a chimney sweep.

THINKING OF RENEWING OR UPGRADING YOUR SOLID FUEL HEATING SYSTEM?
Let our experts guide you every step of the way. The Solid Fuel Association has a range of leaflets (many of them you can download from this site) that will tell you all you need to know about solid fuel heating. More than that – we can give you advice over the telephone on all aspects of solid fuel heating from building a chimney to choice of appliance and fuels.

We can arrange experts to contact you to assist you do the work such as registered HETAS engineers or help you with suppliers for appliances and ancillary products.

A HETAS Registered engineer could also come and give you a quotation for all your heating requirements. In addition, we can help you with the technical aspects of building a fireplace that will work and guidance on Building Regulations.

So, if you are thinking of updating or putting in a new solid fuel or wood burning system, send us an e-mail or telephone low-call 0845 601 4406 / 01773 835400 between 9.00 am and 12.00 pm and 1.00pm and 5.00pm Monday the Friday.

We will assign you a project number and guide you through to the end of your project.


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