Dubbo City Council reminds owners of wood fire heaters to regularly check their chimneys for excessive smoke during the cooler months as it can disturb neighbours, harm the environment and even affect our health.
Council's Manager Environmental Control Debbie Archer said wood smoke pollution could cause breathing difficulties - especially in those with existing respiratory conditions, very young children, and elderly.
"Council is encouraging all residents with wood fire heaters to go outside and check their chimneys this winter. Ideally, chimneys should not vent any smoke, just a heat haze," Ms Archer said.
"Older models may vent a thin wispy smoke, however if your chimney has obvious smoke this means it's not operating as efficiently as it could be, regardless of its age."
Ms Archer said there were some simple steps that owners of wood fire heaters could take to reduce wood smoke:
- Don't let your heater smoulder overnight.
- Burn only dry, aged hardwood. Unseasoned wood contains moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
- Store your wood undercover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to 12 months.
- Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood; these pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
- When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
- Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater so air can circulate around them.
- Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when first lit and when extra fuel is added. Open the air controls for five minutes before, and 15 to 20 minutes after, reloading the heater.
- 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.
- Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
Those considering buying a wood fire heater are urged to ensure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999), and to note the banning by the Firewood Association of the sale of old rail sleepers due to contamination with asbestos, herbicides, heavy metals, grease and oil.
Manager Environmental Control Debbie Archer, phone 6801 4000.