Goulburn offers a year-round
calendar of events to enjoy. View
Goulburn’s upcoming event
Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. In fact, during winter, wood heaters can produce two to three times as much particle pollution as cars. Not only is a smoking fire wasting your money, but the air pollution it causes can also affect our health. That's why we need to change the way we use our heaters.
Wood smoke contains a number of noxious gases (including carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and a range of organic compounds, some of which are toxic or carcinogenic) and fine particles, which go deep into the lungs. These pollutants can cause breathing difficulties even at relatively low levels, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and frail older people. If you can see or smell smoke then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbours.
All slow combustion wood heaters tend to smoke at light-up or refuelling. However, there is no reason for wood heaters to smoke excessively for long periods of time if they are operated correctly and are well maintained.
During winter, smoke from domestic wood heaters causes substantial amounts of air pollution. Pollutants in the smoke include:
·gases such as carbon monoxide
·organic compounds, including air toxics
·fine particles, formed when unburnt gases cool as they go up the chimney; in the air, these can be seen as white smoke.
Who is at risk?
Wood smoke pollution affects everyone. It is harmful to the health of wood heater users and the health of others in the community. Health effects depend on the extent of a person's exposure to wood smoke, one's age and current state of wellbeing.
People who are more at risk are:
·infants and very young children
·those suffering from existing cardiac or respiratory conditions, such as asthma
·those with vascular complications from diabetes
·frail elderly people.
You can be affected by wood smoke:
·inside and outside your home
·from your own wood heater or from other wood heaters in your neighbourhood.
If smoke from a wood heater is affecting you and you wish to lodge a complaint with Council please contact Councils Compliance Services Department on 02 4823 4444.
·turning the air control to slow burn too soon after light-up or refuelling
·trying to burn a single large log
·adding firewood without opening the air control
·an incorrectly placed log which blocks the air supply to the base of the fire
·use of wood that is too wet.
Common installation or maintenance issues that cause excessive smoke are:
·heater flue is clogged with creosote and needs to be swept. Symptoms of a clogged flue are:
-the heater is difficult to start
-smoke enters the room when heater door is opened
·flue length is too short for adequate 'draw'. The flue is an important component of the wood heater installation and needs to be long enough to draw sufficient air for proper combustion of the fuel
·poor location of heater and/or flue. A wood heater will perform better (in terms of both heating effectiveness and reduced smoke emissions) when located towards the centre of the home and not against an outside wall
·DIY repairs such as those that leave the heater with missing components
·the baffle plate is incorrectly installed
Councils tips for better wood heater operation
·Always burn small logs of aged, dry hardwood – unseasoned wood has more moisture and is more likely to smoke.
·Store firewood under cover in a dry ventilated area; freshly cut wood needs to be stored for 8–12 months.
·Never burn rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood. These pollute the air and can be poisonous.
·When lighting a cold heater use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
·Stack wood loosely in the firebox so air can circulate – don't cram the firebox full.
·Turn off the warm air circulation fan when lighting up and when refuelling.
·Keep the flame lively and bright; your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15–20 minutes after reloading.
·Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
·Check your chimney regularly – if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
·Clean the chimney every year, to prevent creosote build-up.
Further information and resources on Wood smoke is available from:
DISCLAIMER: This service is provided by Goulburn Mulwaree Council. Council provides this information with the understanding that it is not guaranteed to be accurate, correct or complete. Conclusions drawn from this information are the responsibility of the user. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy however, Council assumes no responsibility in the event that any information is incorrect. Council assumes no liability for damages incurred as a result of incomplete, incorrect or omitted information. The user of this information assumes all liability for their dependence on it.