Carbon Monoxide – the silent killer

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an extremely poisonous gas that can be present in the fumes from the combustion of fuel’s which aren’t burnt under the correct conditions. Fuels such as gas, oil, solid mineral fuel and biomass all have the potential to emit CO. The gas cannot be seen, smelled or tasted making it difficult to detect.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The early symptoms of CO poisoning are usually similar to common ailments such as upset stomach, tiredness and flu.

The common symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Collapse
  • Chest and/or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour and/or Visual problems

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Smoke control areas: the rules

Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where you can’t emit smoke from a chimney unless you’re burning an authorised fuel or using exempt appliances, eg burners or stoves

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you break the rules.

Find out if you live in a smoke control area

Contact your local council to see if you live in a smoke control area. The environmental services department will be able to help you.

What you can burn in smoke control areas

In a smoke control area you can only burn fuel on the list of authorised fuels, or any of the following ‘smokeless’ fuels, unless you’re using an exempt appliance:

  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal

Oil and kindling

You can use oil or other liquid fuels in specially designed or adapted fireplaces.

Kindling can sometimes be used but ask your council because there are different rules in different areas.

Exempt appliances that can burn unauthorised fuels

Unauthorised fuels, such as wood, can be burned in exempt appliances such as some boilers, cookers and stoves.

Please contact to find out which stoves you can use in your area.

You must only use the types of fuel that the manufacturer says can be used in the appliance.

How much heat do I need?

It is important to choose the stove or fire with the heating power best suited to the space to be heated. It is a matter of determining which stove will be the most economical and most environmentally friendly.

How to determine the power required ?
The power of a stove or fire is expressed in KW and indicates the amount of useful heat (i.e. heat which actually heats the house) that the appliance can produce.

This heat must effectively compensate, as closely as possible, for the heat that the building naturally loses. The power required to heat a room varies depending on the mean outside temperature, the size of the room, which way the property faces, geographical location and the standard of insulation in the building …On the other hand, greater power would be required for a second home, which would have to be heated up quickly at the beginning of the weekend.

A stove or fire that is too small will not be able to heat up (or reheat) the room in cold weather. Alternatively, a stove or fire that is too powerful will often work at a low rate in conditions that are not very beneficial. Sometimes it will overheat the room even at a lower rate. Choosing a 20 kW stove where a 10 kW model would be sufficient would be a very bad decision.

Humphries Stonemasons provide a basic KW calculator on this site which will provide a rough guide to help you choose – but the various factors involved mean it is not easy to carry out an accurate simple calculation. The best way to make sure you choose the appliance best suited to your requirements is to have a no obligation quick chat with us and arrange for a site visit.

Granite – applications and appearance

The term granite has been applied to almost any igneous stone that can retain a polish. True Granites provide many of these stones but other types of igneous stone that may fall into this classification include syenites, gabbros, dolerites, and diorites. The metamorphic stones gneiss, schist and granulite are frequently also included in this ‘Granite’ classification. The formation of these igneous rocks by the slow cooling of molten minerals such as quartz, feldspar and hornblende has resulted in a wide variety of colours and grain patterns. In the United Kingdom the quarrying of Granite is concentrated in a small number of locations. Those of particular importance may be found in Cornwall and Devon, Cumbria, at Peterhead and Aberdeen and on the east coast of Scotland. The main sources for imported granite are Scandinavia, South Africa, Sardinia, Spain, India, North America, China, Portugal and Brazil.

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