Wood Burning/Solid Fuel Stoves

As we head into the winter months Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is issuing safety advice to householders regarding wood burning and solid fuel heating systems.

Every year, we are called out to respond to a number of incidents involving these heating systems.

Chimneys and flues serving solid fuel appliances should be swept regularly. Check our chimney sweeping section for guidelines regarding the fuel used. Only use the fuel recommended by the solid fuel appliance manufacturer. Approved fuel lists are available from HETAS, Tel: 0845 634 5626 or visit www.hetas.co.uk. Household refuse must not be burnt.

  • Use well-seasoned, air-dried (preferably a minimum of 6-12 months) wood. Use a wood moisture meter to test your wood before burning. A recommended moisture level for firewood should be 20% or lower.
  • Do not run the appliance at low output for long periods such as overnight. Do not damp down to save relighting in the morning.
  • If the wood burner has been used at a low output for a long period this should be followed by a controlled high burn for at least 30 minutes to dry out any creosote and to warm up the chimney again.
  • Always ensure you follow the operating and maintenance instructions provided with the appliance.
  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the stove, boiler or heater. The Fire and Rescue Service have been called to fires caused as a result of logs being stored against the hot external surface of wood burners.
  • Children should be educated about the dangers of fire and should not be permitted near hot surfaces.

Use a protective fire guard that is suited to the design of the stove within your property.

  • Empty and check the ash can every day.
  • Always use a metal non-combustible ash can.
  • Flue ways at the back of a boiler should be cleaned once a week, but always let the fire go out and allow ashes to cool before cleaning.
  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

  • Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood, oil and gas can cause CO poisoning.  You should have a carbon monoxide detector fitted in any room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves) or a flue.
  • Being able to recognise the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning will save your life.
  • These symptoms are similar to flu, with nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach and chest pains all key indicators.
  • Since October 2010, a carbon monoxide detector is mandatory with every new stove installation.

Remember a carbon monoxide detector is NOT a substitute for regular maintenance and chimney sweeping.