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How Do I Fire a Coal Boiler?

Updated July 20, 2017

Coal-fuelled boilers offer an efficient and safe way to heat your home. Certain types of boilers, such as batch feed boilers, require firing by hand. While these boilers require a little more attention, they work without the use of electricity, which ensures that hot water and central heating is always available, even during a power failure. As a result, coal-fired boilers can be more reliable than electricity and gas boilers, particularly in isolated areas.

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Screw or scrunch up a single sheet of paper loosely. Roll the remaining sheets of newspaper into dense sticklike tubes about 12 inches long. Place the screwed-up paper in the centre of the boiler. Layer the rolled paper around it in a triangular shape that is three high.

Place the kindling on top of the paper so that it forms a pyramid. Leave a gap so that you can get to the screwed-up paper.

Place the coal around the pyramid so that it covers but doesn't crush it.

Light the screwed-up paper with a match and close the door. Add more coal after the fire is established.


Coal needs air to burn. It is better to add too little coal and have to add more later than to crush the pyramid and snuff the fire out before it is established. If the fire takes a while to be established, check whether the air vents are clogged. Ensure the kindling is dry. If necessary, store the kindling inside for a few days before lighting it.

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Things You'll Need

  • 10 sheets of newspaper
  • 10 pieces of kindling
  • Coal
  • Matches

About the Author

Leonard Telford has been writing since 2000. He has written for student newspapers, "The Old Exonian" and "Bath Impact," as well as his local newspaper, "Gazette and Herald." Telford holds a Master of Science in chemistry from the University of Bath.

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