Boaters using damp wood and logs in their stoves could be risking not just their lives but also stove damage and increased costs says a warning issued by the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS).

Smokey boatsBSS say that it is crucial that wood fuel is kept in a dry, well-ventilated area.  If not, the damp fuel will cause the stove to run at a lower temperature as the heat of the fire will be producing steam and so the stove  needs much more fuel to keep the boat warm.

Even worse, the steam dissolves-out flammable, acidic tars which will cling to and block up, as well as inevitably damage, the stove and its chimney. Stove flues lined with tar could also lead to a chimney fire.

Damaged stove installations are more likely to leak combustion gases into the cabin space, and because of incomplete combustion as the fuel is damp, those gases are more likely to contain carbon monoxide (CO) – creating the vicious cycle that could see a highly toxic atmosphere in the boat.

Some narrowboat owners in particular often store wood for burning in uncovered conditions, open to the elements, outside on the roof of their boats.

Glyn Hughes, the solid fuel expert behind the respected Soliftec website said: “Almost all problems associated with burning wood are caused by damp fuel. Any wood that feels damp and dense or has the leaves attached should be avoided.”

More information on stove fuels on the Soliftec website and on staying safe from CO poisoning on the Boat Safety Scheme website.

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images for this report.

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