Your Guide to Buying Coal for a Gas Fire

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Your Guide to Buying Coal for a Gas Fire

Gas fires are an attractive and stylish addition to a living room and also offer the functional practicality of an additional heating source. Part of the attraction of the design of a gas fire is the use of fake ‘coals’ that are placed at the front of the unit to give an authentic look. These coals are sometimes fixed to the front of the fire as a whole group, or can be moved individually. When purchasing a gas fire unit, these coals usually come with it, but there are times when these coals may become damaged or lost, and replacements will need to be purchased. These replacements can be expensive, but with eBay, the right product at the right price can be found. Follow our steps below to purchase and install the right coals for a gas fire on eBay.

Where to Start

Believe it or not, generic replacement coals will not fit every fire, and this should not be attempted. To begin with, consult the product manual that came with the gas fire. If this is not available, contact the fire manufacturer for advice, or look online for a replacement manual as many of these are available. If the fire is GC approved, the coals should only be replaced with the exact ones from the manufacturer of gas fire. This is because the wrong size coals could roll out from the fire, and since they would be hot while the fire is in use, the heat could be transferred to the floor or carpet, and a house fire could result. There are other safety implications as outlined in the section below. The model number will have a corresponding number for replacement coals. These can be purchased by the manufacturer, but it is cheaper to buy them online via eBay. Many manufacturers or stockists of gas fires sell directly on the auction site, and often at greatly reduced prices. If unsure, contact the seller directly and ask for confirmation that the product being looked it is what is required for the gas fire.

Types of Coals for Gas Fires

The types of coals used on a gas fire tend to fall into two categories – 'Coal' or 'Pebble'.. The main difference is that coals tend to be dark, while pebbles are lighter, some even white. There is very little difference, if any, between the efficiency of coals and pebbles. The latter, as they are lighter in colour, will show carbon deposits more quickly, however. Less commonly seen are 'logs',, which are intended to look like natural wood and give the impression of a wood fire. These too, are similar to both coals and pebbles in their composition, and will need replacing within the same timeframe.

When to Replace Gas Fire Coals

This will vary greatly. If a coal is damaged, particularly if the inner white is on view, or it is crumbling, it should be replaced. Some coals that look simply tatty can be tidied up using a heat proof spray,, but this is a temporary solution. The lifespan of gas fire coals on average is between 7-9 years, depending on how well they are cared for. The coals should be checked by a CORGI registered gas fitter on an annual basis as part of the service of the gas fire. The homeowner can also check them on a regular basis as long as the safety considerations below are followed. The ceramic plate on which the coals sit should also be inspected, as the fire will not work properly if this is damaged, regardless of the status of the coals themselves. When replacing the coals, discard the old ones and make sure to replace them with a full set. For proper disposal instructions, see the safety section below.

Safety Considerations

Many fake coals for gas fires can contain RCF (Refractory Ceramic Fibres) which contain a silicate that can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract if consumed or the coals are badly damaged. To ensure that as little RCF is released as possible, during installation and servicing many manufacturers recommend that a HEPA filtered vacuum be used to remove dust that may accumulate in and around the fire. Discarded coals should be bagged within heavy polythene bags and clearly marked as being RCF waste. This type of waste is stable hazardous waste so can be safely disposed of at landfill. Personal protective clothing is not required when replacing old coals, but the basic hygiene principles of washing hands after handling them is highly recommended. Although discolouration to the coals sometimes occurs on the first usage, if the coals appear ‘sooty’ at any point in their lifetime, cease using the fire and contact a professional CORGI registered gas fitter for advice. This may indicate the coals have been incorrectly placed, or another related problem.

How many coals?

Firstly, consult the product manual, as the number of coals may be documented. If possible, count the amount of coals that are already on the fire; however, this will not be accurate if one of more coals have been lost or disposed of (or it is suspected that this is the case). If coals are missing, the fire must not be used. The numbers of coals required will vary between models and manufacturers, since coals for gas fires can come in a variety of sizes and shapes, which will influence the amount needed.

How to Assemble the Coals

Assembling the coals without the help of a professional is possible, but extreme care must be taken when doing so. How the coals are assembled on the fire will greatly influence the performance of the product. The product manual will give detailed instructions as to how the coals should be placed on the fuel-bed base, and this must be followed. Poor placement of the coals can result in a soot build up or poor flame pattern, which will negatively affect the gas fire. In extreme cases, incorrect placement of the coals can result in production of carbon monoxide, which is poisonous.

Cleaning the Coals

Cleaning is not recommended, as the coals are fragile and may become damaged if cleaned by using a vacuum for example. Gas fire coals should also not be washed or exposed to any cleaning agent or water.


Finding and purchasing replacement coals for a gas fire can be simple on eBay, and if done correctly, the cost will be less than by purchasing via the manufacturer. However, always ask questions of the seller before buying to ensure the correct purchase is being made. The installation of the replacement coals requires great care and the above procedures should be followed, along with any extra guidance from the product manual. This is to ensure the setup of the coals is correct and does not cause a negative reaction in the performance of the gas fire. If unsure at any stage, consult with the manufacturer of the gas fire or a professional CORGI registered gas fitter.

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