There has been an increase in the use of solid fuel (combustion) appliances such as open fires, wood burning stoves, multi-fuel stoves and biomass boilers in domestic and commercial premises in recent years. These appliances are used to heat premises where conventional heating (such as gas central heating) may not provide adequate or sufficient heating. These appliances are commonly installed in areas such as conservatories, extensions, living rooms and outbuildings.

Burning solid fuels such as coal and wood can increase local air pollution, cause odour, adversely affect respiratory health and lead to neighbour complaints in built up areas such as housing estates.

Residents are strongly advised by the Environmental Protection team to consider whether an SFA is right for their property or business prior to installation and consider potential implications of appliance use.

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Factors to consider BEFORE purchasing an SFA

Before purchasing and installing an SFA, take time to consider:

  1. Is my primary heating system sufficient for my property / business or do I need secondary heating (such as an SFA)?
  2. Can cheaper and more effective measures be used in the building such as draught proofing, improved insulation measures, double or triple glazing windows / doors etc? Home Energy Scotlands Make my home warmer can provide useful information on this.
  3. Whether your property is located within a Falkirk Council Smoke Control Area or an Air Quality Management Area.
  4. Potential nuisance from SFA such as smoke and odour which may affect your neighbours who are in close proximity to your property.
  5. Planning implications of any SFA installation. This could be in relation to the positioning and design of flues and chimneys – please contact Development Management (Planning) for advice on the need for planning permission.
  6. Whether a building warrant is needed? There may be building standards implications for some installations in relation to the positioning / design of the SFA, hearth, flues / chimneys and associated equipment.
  7. Space implications in the building such as SFA location to allow for safe operation. Factors such as the distance of the SFA from combustible materials, sufficient / appropriate fuel storage area (dry, well ventilated), flue location and minimum clearance height from the building eaves (at least 1m) need to be considered.
  8. The building's storey (or levels) compared to neighbour's. The Environmental Protection team do not recommend installing an SFA and flue / chimney which terminates above the eaves of a one-storey building which is adjacent to a two-storey building for effective smoke / odour dispersal. This can lead to nuisance complaints.

Guidance for SFA installation

If you do decide to install an SFA, please consider:

Smoke Control Area

Even if you live outside a Smoke Control Area (SCA), installing a Clean Air Act "exempt appliance'' or using Clean Air Act "authorised fuels'' is recommended. This will not only minimise the amount of local smoke pollution, which can affect neighbours' health, but it will ensure minimum operating efficiency of the SFA.

Using reputable supplier / installer

We recommend using HETAS approved installers.

Please use Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) approved appliances and install adhering to national Building Standards guidance.

Using SFAs

Please always ensure the correct fuel is used for the SFA. Generally, sufficiently dried (<20% moisture), untreated wood for wood burning stoves and smokeless coal (anthracite) for multi-fuel stoves or open fires.

Firelighters and dried, untreated kindling are always recommended for lighting fires. Cardboard and paper are not recommended as these can contain paints and inks.

Get to know the operational requirements of your SFA to ensure maximum efficiency and to minimise any smoke and odour.

A general rule is that some smoke and odour are inevitable during the start up and shut down phases (usually around 30mins) of an SFA. If used correctly the smoke should be white-grey in colour during these phases. When the SFA is up to its optimum operating temperature smoke should be minimal and hardly visible.

See Burn Right and DEFRA guidance for good SFA operational practical guidance.

Regular maintenance

Ensure regular cleaning and maintenance of the SFA, flue and associated equipment. For example:

  • annual chimney sweeps
  • internal cleaning
  • regular fuel moisture checks
  • door seal checks

We recommend you keep a record of these checks.

Issues and complaints

The Environmental Protection team continue to receive complaints regarding smoke and odour from SFAs, mostly during colder weather. This mainly occurs where the stove has been installed in a built-up housing estate and is in close proximity to other properties/windows etc. It can also occur when non-exempt fuels or non-recommended materials are burned or when the appliance is not properly maintained.

Careful consideration should be given to the design and positioning of flues and chimneys and to the type of fuel you will be burning. You should try to minimise any potential smoke/odour nuisance from the use of your stove, on your neighbours.

Even if you install an exempt appliance and use only the recommended authorised fuel, it is still possible to cause a smoke and/or odour nuisance, if you fail to give due consideration to the position of the flue or chimney.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards can provide further information if needed.

Environmental Protection