Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Check you're using your heater correctly

Starting the fire

Always start the fire with small pieces of wood or kindling. When the fire is well established, add large pieces of wood gradually.

Stack wood loosely in your firebox, so plenty of air circulates around it. That way your fire will burn hot and efficiently, rather than smoulder, which causes smoke and air pollution.

Maintaining the fire

Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel – and then only for a few minutes.

Open the air intake and flue for 5 minutes before and 20 minutes after every time you add fuel.

Keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame. Don't let your heater smoulder overnight.

To reduce the build-up of soot and creosote, burn the fire fast for 1-2 hours every day the fire is lit.

Wood heater: door open showing brightly burning fire

Check the chimney

Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.

If the fire smokes for more than 10 minutes when you start it, or more than a minute when you add fuel, then there is a problem with the fuel, the operating method or both.

Clean the chimney, flue and baffles regularly

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.

Page last updated: 11 July 2013