Updated on 24th November, 2022 by Martin Astley
A woman from Clipstone was lucky to escape with her life after her boiler blew up.
Care worker Susan Woods, 54, of Fifth Avenue, was sitting in her front room with her sister Marilyn and drinking a cup of coffee when her unused back boiler exploded “like a bomb”.
Fortunately, Susan was sat behind a coffee table, which shielded her from the explosion – firefighters told her the power of the blast could have been enough to decapitate her and that she might have been “chopped in half”.
Rushed to hospital
However, she was rushed to hospital following the incident, as her eyes were pierced by bits of brick and mortar, and her legs, face and head were bruised. Hospital staff removed the debris from her eyes, x-rayed her for evidence of damage to her chest and pelvis, and kept her overnight for observation. Marilyn managed to avoid any serious injuries in the explosion.
Susan said the incident was “terrifying”, and that she “blanked” for a while before shouting for her sister.
Malcolm, her husband, explained that he lit his Rayburn fire at around 14:00, and at 15:15 he heard an “almighty bang”.
Susan was shouting and screaming, but Malcolm broke the door down and got his wife and sister-in-law out of the room.
“It all happened so quickly,” he added.
Fire crews from Edwinstowe and Mansfield, a Tuxford specialist rescue team and a gas engineer attended the property, and Mansfield District Council’s structural engineers propped the chimney breast up. Although firefighters made the household and a neighbouring building safe, the living room still looks like a bomb site, and Susan said she is scared to go back into it.
Somebody dropped a leaflet through her front door one morning after the blast and it “terrified” her, she said, explaining she feels “so unnerved” by the explosion and wants to move out of her house as soon as she can.
Mr and Mrs Woods rented the property and have only lived in it for ten weeks. They said they had been assured that the coal fire was safe and that previous tenants had used it, and that the fire service suggested the explosion was probably because the back boiler did not have any water in it.
A spokesperson for Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service urged anyone who believes they have a disused solid-fuel back boiler to receive professional advice about venting and protecting the system, or to get the boiler removed completely.
Back boiler safety
There have been a number of safety incidents involving redundant solid fuel back boilers in the last few years, all of which involve lighting solid-fuel fires when these redundant boilers have been left within the fireplace.
It is thought that, as the boilers are left in a sealed condition, they can heat up when a wood or coal fire is lit in front of them, which can cause the boiler cover to explode.
Homeowners with these redundant back boilers should not light fires in their fireplaces until they have received professional assistance, and relevant tenants should urgently contact their landlord and avoid lighting fires.
Landlords should determine appropriate ways to deal with these issues through a consultation with a competent person, advise relevant tenants that they should not light fires in their fireplace until they have been notified otherwise, and should provide safety information to their tenants.
Problems with your boiler?
Don’t attempt to touch any part of your boiler or central heating system if you’re unsure. Did you know? It’s illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they think it’s unsafe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry as you could make things worse.
Instead, call us on 0345 3192 247 and we can help. Our technical team will run through some simple troubleshooting to see if your problem can be resolved on the phone or they can book one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gas Safe registered engineers to get you back up and running as soon as possible.