Wood heaters tend to create smoke when being lit or refuelled. However, there is no reason for wood heaters to smoke excessively for long periods of time if they are well maintained and being operated correctly. If you are considering purchasing a new wood heater, remember to check with the retailer to ensure it complies with the relevant AS/NZS Standards under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clear Air) Amendment (Solid Fuel Heaters) Regulation 2016.
Wood heaters should have a compliance plate stating that it conforms to the Australian Standard for pollution emissions (AS/NZS 4013:2014) and efficiency (AS/NZS 4012:2014). If yours doesn't you might consider upgrading your heater to a newer, more efficient model.
A few tips to minimise smoke while using your wood heater:
- Always burn small logs of aged hardwood. Unseasoned wood has more moisture which makes a heater smoke;
- Store wood under cover, in a dry ventilated area. Freshly cut timber needs to be stored for 8 to 12 months;
- Never use treated or painted timber;
- Stack wood loosely in the heater so air can circulate;
- Make sure the fire receives adequate oxygen. Keep the flame lively and bright;
- Do not let the heater smoulder overnight or during the day. Keep enough oxygen in the fire to maintain a flame;
- Clean the wood heater flue and baffle regularly
To find out more about reducing wood smoke pollution visit:
Making a complaint
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 helps to maintain a good relationship with your neighbours.
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.