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Smoke from wood heaters

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Logs and pellets on fire

If your home has a wood heater, there are things you can do to increase its efficiency, reduce the air pollution it produces and protect the health of people with compromised respiratory systems e.g. asthmatics.

If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard AS/NZS 4013:1999.

You need to ensure that your wood heater is installed, serviced and maintained in line with the standard.

Prepare your wood heater for winter

Wood storage

Wood burns cleaner and more efficiently when it is dry. To ensure your wood is dry:

  • Store newly cut wood for 8 to 12 months
  • Cover wood to keep it dry
  • Stack your wood loosely in a place that is well ventilated
  • Split your wood into pieces 10-15 cm thick as they will dry faster.

Wood heater maintenance

Take the time to clean and maintain your wood heater:

  • Clean out the chimney
  • Check the glass door for cracks
  • Check the door ropes and seals for deterioration
  • Check the firebox for rust, cracks or changes in the surface
  • Remove ash from the firebox
  • Lubricate the air-slide with high temperature grease

Operating your wood heater

What to burn

Only burn dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture which causes a fire to smoke. Never burn rubbish, driftwood, painted or treated wood. These pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.

Lighting and maintaining an efficient fire

When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of paper and dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.

Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater so air can circulate around them.

Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.

Don't cram or over fill the firebox.

Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from your chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.

Troubleshooting a smoky fire

If you continue to have trouble with smoke from your wood heater, you might consider increasing the height of your flue.

Other ways to heat your home efficiently

A properly insulated house will reduce the need for heating. Ensure that your ceiling is insulated, draughts are blocked, doors are closed to unoccupied rooms and curtains are drawn to help keep the heat in.

Consider other heating alternatives such as gas heaters, which are clean burning, cost effective and less polluting.

Contact us

For more information about environmental health please contact our office on 03 5434 6000 or [email protected]


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