Wood heaters and flues

It is important to have your wood heater serviced regularly to reduce the risk of unintentional fire. Wood heaters and flues should be serviced each year by a registered or licensed Mechanical Services plumber. This will ensure that your wood heater operates efficiently and does not pose a fire hazard.

Reducing fire hazard risk

Regular servicing of a wood heater and its flue system will address two key fire hazard risk areas:

  1. It will remove any creosote that has accumulated in the heater or flue. Creosote forms when the gases from burning wood condense on their way out of the flue, leaving a tar-like material. The substance can build up quickly and block the flue, leading to inefficient heater operation. Creosote is highly combustible and can catch fire. It is a common source of wood heater-related fires.
  2. A check of the flue system will help ensure it is free of defects and flammable materials such as grass, small twigs and other debris that may be the result of birds nesting in the flue or surrounding chimney cavity. The intense heat generated in flues when the heater is being used can cause this debris to catch fire.

In addition to reducing the fire risk, regular servicing of your wood heater will ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible.

Outside the house, it is also important to keep combustible materials, such as overhanging tree branches, well clear of flues.

Tips for operating your wood heater

To minimise wood smoke and allow your wood heater to operate at maximum efficiency, you should also note the following:

  • follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting, fuelling and operating the wood heater
  • use paper or kindling wood to get the fire started
  • only use dry, seasoned wood
  • arrange the wood so plenty of air can circulate around all sides
  • always leave the air control open for at least 20 minutes after starting or refuelling the fire
  • do not overfill the heater or try to burn logs that are too large.

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