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Explosion risk from redundant domestic back boilers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert aimed at homeowners, tenants, landlords and heating professionals following five incidents in the last five years where redundant solid fuel back boilers have exploded.

A number of these incidents led to injury and sadly, in one case, a fatality, the HSE said.

The risk can arise when a disused boiler has been left at the back of a fireplace and a coal or wood fire is lit in front of it. This can mean the boiler heats up causing the boiler casing to explode. If you have a redundant back boiler you should not light an open fire in front of it.

The health and safety watchdog said information in its recently-published alert should help identify whether individuals have this potential risk in their properties/housing stock and what steps they should take.

The HSE is urging those who are unsure of whether they have a back boiler behind their fireplace to seek further advice from their landlord or a competent professional such as a plumber or heating engineer.

For practical and technical advice individuals can contact the Solid Fuel Association helpline on 0845 6014406 HETAS, the body recognised for official testing and approval of domestic solid fuel burning appliances at