Incorrect installation, fuel or operating procedures may cause wood heaters to emit excessive smoke, soot and odours that may be carcinogenic, and they can cause a nuisance and health risk to residents in nearby properties.
Excessive smoke is the emission of a visible plume of smoke from a chimney for a continuous period of not less than 10 minutes, including a period of not less than 30 seconds when the plume extends at least 10 metres from the point at which the smoke is emitted from the chimney.
Report air pollution
How can I reduce smoke emissions?
The type of fuel used in the heater has a major bearing on the quantity and quality of emissions. Only clean, dry, well-seasoned and untreated hardwood that has been stored correctly should be used as fuel in a solid fuel heater. Wood should be stored clear of the ground, under a roof with open sides and ends, and seasoned for approximately six to twelve months before use. It is also important that the flue is cleaned annually to prevent the build up of carbon.
What do I need to look for when purchasing a wood heater?
When you purchase a wood heater it must comply with the Australian Standard - AS/NZS 4013-2014 and be marked as such. A copy of the certificate of compliance for the model you are purchasing must be provided to you at the time of purchase. It is an offence for the seller not to comply with the these requirements.
Council permission is required to install a wood heater or fire place. Unless the proposal is included as part of a separate development application for an existing or new premise you must complete an activity application (PDF) with council.
Activity application - install a wood heater or fireplace
A fee of $205 (2022/23 fee - reviewed annually) is currently charged to assess the activity application.
Installing a wood heater
If approval is granted by council, install the appliance in accordance with the requirements of the Australian Standard - AS/NZS 2918:2018.
The height of the flue above the roof should comply with the requirements of section 4 of the Standard however, where steeply slopping blocks or the proximity of the flue to multi-storey dwellings is likely to cause air quality issues for neighbours, these requirements may be varied. In these circumstances the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage recommends that the chimney should discharge not less than one metre above any structure within a fifteen metre radius.
There are circumstances where a solid fuel heater may not be suitable and an alternative heating system, such as gas, may need to be considered.
Application to Install a Wood Heater