Installation of Open-Flued Solid Fuel Heating Appliances in Bedrooms

This article was first published in HETAS Technical Bulletin #25.

A common enquiry received on the HETAS technical helpline of late surrounds the options for the installation of a solid fuel heating appliance into a bedroom or rooms utilised for sleeping accommodation.

Guidance within current standards and regulation requirements are not ultimately clear in terms of what can or cannot be done, and HETAS have highlighted its position and the risks to be considered for this practice in more detail in this article.

Available guidance within Building Regulations and recognised standards highlight requirements for gas and oil appliance installations in these situations needing to be of a room-sealed design, if installation into the bedroom is unavoidable.

Although it is claimed that some solid fuel closed appliances can be classified as room sealed there is always a need for them to be opened up in normal use in order for the user to refuel and clean them out. For this reason they cannot be considered true room-sealed products in the same sense as oil and gas appliances and there will always remain a risk that combustion products can escape into the room in the event of a failure within the system or when the appliance is being used incorrectly. Unlike oil and gas appliances it is also not possible to “switch off” the combustion process of a solid fuel room heater via an automated device when a fault occurs. Consequently, any failure that does go undetected will result in combustion products continuously spilling into the room with possible deadly consequences. N.B. This is the reason UK regulations now require a CO detector to be fitted in any room containing a solid fuel appliance.

HETAS’s principal position is such that installations of open-flued solid fuel appliances are not recommended for situ in bedrooms or in rooms containing sleeping accommodation.

There may be certain circumstances where installation of a heating appliance into a room containing sleeping accommodation cannot be avoided, such as where a downstairs room is converted into a sleeping area for old or infirm persons or within leisure units (i.e., yurts, shepherds’ huts etc.) which only encompass sleeping accommodation as part of the unit.

In these circumstances, there are some additional considerations that can be taken into account to reduce the risk and improve safety of solid fuel appliance installations, including:

  • HETAS would advise that a CO alarm is placed by the headboard. In addition to a CO alarm positioned in accordance with ADJ Para 2.36
  • Never operating the appliance overnight, even if the appliance has been designed and confirmed by the manufacturer as being able to operate under these conditions
  • Consideration for installation of an appliance designed to be refuelled automatically, or an appliance designed so that combustion chamber doors are not required to be opened during refuel (i.e. pellet appliance)
  • Utilising a closed appliance with self-closing doors
  • Ensuring any ash removed during the de-ashing procedure is removed from the bedroom and disposed of accordingly
  • Never operating the appliance with the doors open against appliance manufacturer operation guidance
  • Having the installation swept and serviced on a more frequent basis to ensure the appliance and chimney continue to operate efficiently and disperse products of combustion safely into outside atmosphere

Further information on installation of solid fuel appliances within bedrooms can be obtained from the HETAS Technical Team on 01684 278170, Option 1 or by emailing technical@hetas.co.uk.

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