The maintenance of solid fuel appliances is very important to ensure safe and efficient operation.
The following general guidelines are recommended but it is important to follow any instructions from your appliance manufacturer
Solid fuel can be a cost effective way of heating your home and providing hot water, particularly in rural areas where mains gas is not available. In recent years interest has grown in biomass heating (wood burning) as an environmentally friendly way of heating homes.
Solid fuels fall into two categories – minerals and biomass. Mineral fuels include bituminous coal, natural smokeless fuel (anthracite and dry steam coal), manufactured smokeless fuel and manufactured non-smokeless fuel. The most common biomass fuel used is wood. Wood is available in many forms including logs, manufactured logs (usually a mixture of wood and wax), chips and pellets.
Other mineral and biomass fuels exist, however you should not use these unless you have clear instructions that these can be used in your solid fuel appliance without creating excess pollution and, if you live in a smoke control area, that the fuel has been authorised for use in such areas. Mineral fuels in this category include petroleum coke, whilst biomass fuels are many and varied, for example agricultural and animal wastes.
Burning waste in a solid fuel appliance can produce very high emissions of pollutants, potentially affecting the health of your own household and that of your neighbours. This includes waste wood; wood is often treated and burning this can release highly toxic chemicals (including heavy metals) into the air.
The simplest type of solid fuel appliance is an open fire, however these are not very energy efficient. Closed appliances, such as room heaters and wood burning stoves, are much more efficient. Solid fuel can also be used in cookers, and in more complex systems such as gravity fed boilers that can provide heating and hot water for an entire house.