Check Your Chimney

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Check your chimney

Heating your home can add to your winter energy bills, but by making a few simple changes, you can minimise your energy costs and have a cosy home.

Wood heaters that are not managed properly not only waste hundreds of dollars a year, but damage the environment, can cause respiratory problems and be a nuisance to neighbours.

Wood smoke is a common source of complaints to Council.

To help reduce wood smoke and to get the most out of your wood heater this winter, follow these simple tips:

  • Have the chimney cleaned at least once a year, to prevent tar build-up.
  • Don't let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  • Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after loading the heater.
  • Stack wood loosely in your firebox, so plenty of air circulates around it. That way your fire will burn hot and efficiently.
  • Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Such logs should make a ‘crack’ when you hit one against another, rather than the dull thud of a freshly cut log. Green or unseasoned wood contains up to 70 per cent water, which causes smoke, not heat.
  • Store freshly cut wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area for at least eight to twelve months.
  • Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. This can produce toxic gases.
  • When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your home retains the heat you put into it – insulate ceilings, walls and floors where possible and choose an appropriate heating system for your home.
  • Regularly check your flue/chimney – some smoke may be visible in the first 15-20 minutes after lighting the fire and a short time after more wood is added. Continuous grey smoke indicates inefficient burning. Adjust the fuel load or increase the air settings to reduce smoke production.

Wood smoke pollution affects everyone. Even in small amounts, wood smoke pollutants can be harmful especially to the young, frail or elderly.