Wood smoke pollution can be harmful to people’s health. Consider other ways of heating your house, especially on calm days with not much wind.
Wood heater owners have an obligation to reduce smoke from wood heating. You should also consider your neighbours’ health when using a wood heater. To reduce smoke emissions when using your wood heater:
- choose the right wood heater
- use your wood heater the correct way
- maintain your wood heater well.
How to choose the right wood heater
Use a wood heater that meets the Australian Standard for heat efficiency ‘AS 4012’ and smoke emissions ‘AS 4013’.
Make sure a licensed professional installs your heater, and follow your wood heater’s manufacturer instructions.
How to use your wood heater the right way
Always use the right wood in your wood heater. To start your fire the right way, make sure you:
- use plenty of paper and small, dry kindling under the wood so the fire lights quickly
- put another sheet of paper above your unlit fire to help the fire light
- keep flames lively and bright. Fires should never be dull or smoky
- don't put a large log at the front. It blocks air from getting to the bottom of your fire
- load short logs, at right angles to the door
- leave at least two centimetres between pieces of wood.
Once your fire is burning:
- fully open air controls for first 20 minutes
- to reduce smoke, set air controls high enough to keep the fire burning brightly. Set air flow to high for 20 minutes each time you add wood
- don't pack the heater too full. This allows air to circulate so wood burns properly.
- only reduce the air flow when there is a hot bed of charcoal
- never close the air flow off completely. It produces little heat and lots of smoke
- never leave your heater to smoulder overnight. Let it burn down instead. This produces less smoke and air pollution.
How to maintain your wood heater well
- Have your wood heater’s flue professionally checked and cleaned before winter.
- Check your chimney occasionally for smoke emissions. When wood heaters run for 20 minutes and produce constant smoke, they need more air flow.
Resources for reducing wood smoke pollution
The Australian Home Heating Association has information on how to find certified wood heaters that meet the:
- AS 4012 standard
- AS 4013 standard.
Sustainability Victoria has information about how to use less energy.
The Australian Government has guidance on wood smoke.
For chimney sweeps and other wood heater services, contact a qualified professional.
Read more about wood smoke and air quality
Reviewed 1 May 2020