Wood heaters are a great source of warmth during winter. Well-operated wood heaters can provide an efficient way to heat your home and should produce heat without smoke. But wood heaters and open fireplaces that are not operated well can add to outdoor air pollution and cause problems for your neighbours.
Wood heaters are not prohibited. Even with the correct operation of a wood heater there will be some smoke that may be within acceptable levels.
Wood smoke contains many different chemicals, some of which are toxic to humans, and when breathed in can cause physical discomfort and health problems for people with respiratory illnesses, including children and the elderly.
If you wish to install or remove a wood heater, please see the following building section of our website: Construction and Installation - Wood Heaters.
Tips to maintain your wood heater and avoid excessive smoke
- Only burn dry, seasoned hardwood
- Correctly light a wood heater to ensure a clean, brightly burning fire
- Never leave your wood heater to smoulder as this produces more smoke and air pollution
- Never overload your wood heater by placing too much wood in the fire
- Ensure your flue or chimney is higher than your neighbours’ roof line - this will stop smoke from your fire entering your neighbour’s home
- Regularly check the inside of the firebox - look for cracks or changes to the surface
- Regularly remove ash from the firebox
- Clean the flue at least once a year
- Store wood undercover and not exposed to rain or moisture
For more tips for cleaner wood heating, download Hot Tips for Cleaner Wood Heating(PDF, 847KB)
What to do about excessive wood heater smoke
If you are concerned about smoke coming from a neighbour's wood heater - try and talk to them. You may feel anxious about approaching a neighbour, but remember they may not be aware they are affecting you. If the issue remains unresolved, you can contact Council’s Customer Service Team on 9518 3555 or email email@example.com
If you are experiencing smoke emissions from a neighbour burning off, you should contact Council's Local Laws on 9518 3555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on wood fires and breathing problems, see the Better Health Channel's Wood fires and breathing problems.
To find more about wood smoke pollution and how to prevent it, see the EPA website: Wood smoke and air quality.