Chimney Smoke

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Chimney Smoke

Smoke from wood heaters can be a major cause of air pollution which can be detrimental to human health. Harmful smoke pollution can be drastically reduced if we improve the way we use our wood heaters. Although wood heaters tend to smoke when being lit or re-fueled, there is no reason for wood heaters to smoke excessively if they are correctly installed, operated and are well maintained.

  • Compliance with the manufacturer's installation instructions/recommendations.
  • The heater should have a compliance plate and accompanying certificate of compliance stating that it conforms to AS/NZS 4012 – 2014, - Domestic Solid Fuel Burning Appliances, Method for determination of power output and efficiency; and AS/NZS 3013 – 2014, Domestic solid fuel burning appliances - Method for Determination of Flue Gas Emission.
  • Engage an appropriately qualified person to install the wood heater and ensure it does not adversely affect the structural integrity of the building or cause a possible fire hazard.
  • The top of the chimney/flue should be a minimum of 1m and maximum of 3m above the roof ridge.
  • Installation to be in accordance with the relevant provisions of Part 3.7.3 of the National Construction Code and AS/NZS 2918 – 2001 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances - Installation.
  • Any openings created are to be adequately weatherproofed.
  • Location of chimney/flue and height to be appropriately considered and designed to minimise potential smoke impacts on adjoining property/s. EPA recommends the top of a chimney should be at least one meter higher than any other building within a 15 meter radius where possible.
  • Operation of the wood heater is to be in accordance with the NSW EPA Guideline Selecting, Installing and Operating Domestic Solid Fuel Heaters.

  • Always burn small pieces of aged, dry hardwood.
  • Store wood under cover in a dry ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for about eight to twelve months.
  • Never burn treated or painted wood, driftwood or household rubbish.
  • Stack wood loosely in your heater, so plenty of air circulates around it to keep the flame lively and bright.
  • Don’t let the fire smolder overnight.
  • Regularly check your chimney to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  • Check the flue, chimney and baffle regularly for a build-up of soot or creosote (a tar-like oily deposit). This build up indicates that the fire is not burning properly, and can cause chimney fires. Clean the chimney, flue and baffle at the end of every winter.

To find out more about reducing wood smoke pollution visit:

When wood smoke is a problem, Council advises that you first try to solve the problem amicably by talking to the person who is causing the excessive smoke. This approach also helps to maintain a good relationship with your neighbour. If this is unsuccessful in resolving the matter, a complaint can be lodged to Council in writing, by phone or in person. Each complaint received is assessed against the following criteria:

  • Is there a public health risk and
  • Is the issue impacting on the broader public or can it be resolved privately

Based on the above criteria, Council determines if the complaint requires further investigation or if the matter can be resolved independently of Council through the Community Justice Centre. If the above criteria have been satisfied, Council can investigate the matter and determine the appropriate action.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 provides regulatory powers for local councils to issue smoke abatement notices. These notices may be issued where a household has been given information on correct wood heater operation but makes little or no effort to prevent excessive emissions of wood smoke. A smoke abatement notice directs the person to whom the notice is issued to ensure that the excessive smoke is not emitted from the chimney at any time after 21 days following the giving of the notice.