Wood heaters

Correct installation, maintenance and operation of your wood heater will ensure you enjoy the warmth of your fire and avoid creating excess smoke that may cause a nuisance and health risk to yourself, your family and your neighbours.

Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, especially for very young children, our elderly and people suffering existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, pneumonia and middle ear infections.

Thinking of getting a wood heater or open fireplace installed in your home?

Approval is required from Council for the installation of a solid fuel heating appliances/ wood heater, under Section 68 of the Local Government Act, 1993 to ensure the safety of the house, its occupants and the environment.

Wood heaters must conform to the Australian Standard for pollution emissions, Australian Standard (AS) 4013 and 4012 and efficiency Australian Standard (AS) 4012 and 2014.

You'll need to be able to achieve the correct flue height relative to the buildings surrounding you.

Your heater or fireplace must be installed by an experienced professional tradesperson.

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.

To find out more about how to choose a heater that is the right size for your house and one designed to produce the lowest level of emissions, visit the NSW EPA check your heater complies with the standard page.

How you can help to reduce smoke nuisances

Did you know? as much as half of the Macarthur Region's air pollution through winter is caused by wood heaters. Please take care to ensure you are not generating an excessive amount of smoke and odour by following these tips:

  • Only burn dry, well-seasoned hardwood that is chemically untreated
  • Use a number of small logs instead of only one large log
  • Not packing the fire too full, as it starves the fire of oxygen and causes it to smoulder
  • Store your wood under cover in a dry ventilated area
  • Never burning rubbish and painted or treated wood
  • Check the outside of your chimney, if you see visible smoke, increase the air supply
  • Regularly remove ash and unburnt coals from the hearth of the fire
  • If you are leaving the heater burning overnight, make sure that enough air is available to keep smoke levels low and to allow the fuel to burn down slowly
  • Ensure your chimneys and flues are cleaned out once a year.

If you can smell it, you're already breathing it

Wood smoke can be dangerous. Learn why the EPA works to reduce wood smoke pollution, and what you can do to help.

The EPA has developed these short (30sec) animations to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of wood smoke pollution and provide practical tips for wood heater owners to better operate your wood heaters.

More information on why wood smoke isn't good smoke is available on the NSW EPA Website.

Complaints relating to excessive smoke

  • Have a friendly talk to the owners of the wood heater, as they may not be aware of the problem, or how to solve it
  • Issues with excessive smoke can be reported to Council online
  • Or call us on 02 4645 4000 during business hours.

Council provides information and guidelines to residents who are the subject of complaints relating to excessive smoke from wood heaters.

Wood heater offences and fines

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, residents who do not follow our guidelines and maintain a clean burning wood heater may be issued with a smoke abatement notice and may face on the spot fines of $200.

It is also an offence to remove trees or fallen timber from bushland areas for use in wood heaters.