Important Safety Information

heat your home safely pdf

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Heating and cooking appliances fuelled by coal, smokeless fuels, wood oil and gas can cause CO poisoning if they are poorly installed, incorrectly used or if they are not properly maintained.

When fuel does not burn properly it produces poisonous and potentially deadly CO gas. It can also damage your health permanently.

The early symptoms of CO poisoning are: tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, chest pains and nausea.

Householders can reduce the risk of CO poisoning by:

  • Having appliances installed and properly checked by competent engineers.
  • Getting chimneys and flues inspected and swept.
  • Not overloading a fire and only burning the fuel it is designed for; and fitting a carbon monoxide detector.


Chimney fires occur when the deposits of combustion are left within the flue ways. By definition, a chimney fire is the burning of soot or creosote within the appliance, outlet or flue system, which can result in improper function of the appliance, damage to the flue, house or surrounding structures and it can even start a house fire.

Chimney fires are usually started when high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire extend into the appliance outlet or flue and the ignition of the combustible deposits within, occur. This type of chimney fire can be sometimes associated with:

  • A loud roaring noise, which occurs as massive amounts of air are sucked through the appliance or fireplace opening and used to oxidise the combustible fuels within the system.
  • Sparks and flames seen shooting from the chimney top, which can be firework like in appearance.
  • A glowing or shimmering appliance outlet or connector.
  • Vibrating appliance, outlet or connector.
  • Flames visible through any tiny cracks in the outlet or connector.
  • Smoke and odours noticeable in adjoining rooms or the loft space.
  • The heating up of the chimney breast or flue pipe, in the same room as the appliance and also other rooms that the flue passes through.

All chimney fires are extremely dangerous even though their intensity and duration may vary. During a chimney fire, internal flue temperatures may reach a staggering 1,100 degrees Celsius. As a result, massive radiant heat is emitted through the chimney walls, and with the addition of possible thatched or wooden roofs, a devastating house fire can start quickly. Flames and sparks can leap from the chimney top or through cracks in the flue and ignite the roof and other parts of the house. The bricks of a chimney can become hot enough for combustion of nearby flammable materials such as thatch and wooden beams. Adjoining houses and nearby trees can also be affected. If no apparent damage is visible on the exterior of the chimney breast of flue, it is still highly probably that damage may have occurred within the lining of the chimney. Chimney fires burn hot enough to damage liners, crack chimney walls and pots and damage factory built metal chimneys.


It is recommended that in normal use, chimneys should be swept as follows:

  • SOLID FUEL APPLIANCES - once per year at least for smokeless fuel twice per year at least for coal.
  • WOOD BURNING APPLIANCES - Quarterly when in use.
  • GAS APPLIANCES - Once per year if designed for sweeping.
  • OIL FIRED APPLIANCES - Once per year.
be carbon monixide aware It is not sufficient to clean a chimney using a vacuum cleaner alone. Ensure your chimney flue is inspected at regular intervals to prevent fire breaking out of the chimney. Use a Fire guard when left unattended. Please consult you insurance company if unsure about cleaning periods. Remember a blocked flue can kill and the exclusion of air will put out a fire. Warning: the chimney termination covers above are only designed for disused flues. They are not approved for gas, oil or solid fuel. These types of terminals are designed to give ventilation to unused chimneys only. They should not be fitted to chimneys that have working gas, oil, solid fuel fires or boilers, as they slow the escape of the fumes from the chimney and could cause smoke and carbon monoxide to enter occupied rooms. If you have one of these fitted to your chimney ensure it is removed if you wish to use the chimney.