Wood Heater Regulations

What better opportunity to spend time with your family in a winter’s night, than in front of a cozy fireplace? But this isn’t just some opening where you chuck in firewood for lighting. Fireplaces are also regulated by an Australian Standard (AS/NAS 2918), which means there are several restrictions that can impact how and where it is built.

Check local building regulations before installing the appliance. It is recommended to get installation by a professional  

 Wood Heater Distance From Wall in Australia 

A wood heater requires a certain distance from the wall to comply with the Australian Standards. Each model is assessed differently and you need to refer to the manufacturers instruction. However, the standard wood heater distance from the rear wall is around 300mm and the side walls 500mm.  

Min wood heater flue dimensions
Min wood heater flue size

Installation of a Wood Heater 

Like appliances, fireplaces and wood heaters should be installed according to the instructions of manufacturers. This is why specialists are called on to do the job. They not only install the fireplace but also ensure the following specifications are met: 

  • The fireplace or wood heater should function in such a way that ensures minimum smoke emissions. 
  • The fireplace or wood heater should have a surrounding hearth made of non-combustible materials. 
  • The flue, which should be at least 4.6 meters in height from floor level, should be away from any windows or doors. It should also be at least 0.6 meters above your roof line, and a meter taller than any neighboring structure within a three-meter radius. 
  • The damper should be properly installed, and not block the passage of the smoke out the chimney. 
  • There should be no surrounding trees, windows, or walls around the chimney. 

It starts with the plan 

Installation isn’t everything, however — the layout of the home itself is also essential in making sure the fireplace or wood heater meets Australian standards. When your draftsman designs your residence, a great part of it is designed around the position of the fireplace.  

Wood heater size

Essentially, the fireplace should be located in a part of the house that would not allow the expelled smoke to be blown back in. It should also be located some distance from stairs, doorways, and hallways, so that any accident resulting from its use would not block your means of exit. Even the materials to be used in the room should be carefully chosen, to significantly decrease the chance of mishaps. 

Even the number of floors in your residence would influence the position of the fireplace or wood heater in the plan, as the restriction on wall distance means you cannot have the chimney near any second floor walls. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the fireplace is the literal heart of the home when it comes to design. 

Planning for maintenance & cleaning 

The fireplace or wood heater should also undergo periodic maintenance, to ensure it is operating properly. This should also play a role in the planning process. Ideally, a fireplace should be somewhere that can be easily accessed for cleaning (i.e., not too deep in the home). To ensure maximum efficiency, the home should also be adequately insulated to prevent the heat from escaping.  

Even the local climate of the state or city could play a role, as the fireplace (and chimney) is ideally located in an area that catches the wind — both to ensure that smoke is blown away from the house, as well as to make sure that fresh air is channeled down the chimney for better cleaning. Fortunately, these are all skills that an expert draftsman is trained to do. 

6 thoughts on “Wood Heater Regulations”

  1. Why are there yet no regulations or standards in Victoria or indeed Australia to protect neighbours from smoke from outdoor, wood burning heaters and cookers? This is known to be a nuisance and dangerous to health yet there is nothing a neighbouring property owner can do to protect themselves from such a situation. Incinerators were banned only to be replaced with these problematic outdoor wood burners. There appears to be no requirement for flues to be installed at certain heights or distances away from neighbouring properties, windows, eaves etc., like there is for indoor wood burning heaters and cookers.

    • Check with your local council. They may have their own regulations.

    • I was brought up with the smell of fires burning and incinerators. I think you will find that incinerators were banned due to the items being incinerated. Normally one would not use good solid hardwood but anything else that would combust in an incinerator, ie you burn your rubbish in an incinerator and kept the good stuff for the wood fired stove and fireplace. As to being a nuisance, and a danger to health, I suggest that you have an opinion and others have a differing view. There is noting better than the smell of a good fire 🙂

    • Because then no one would be able to have a wood fire.

    • You sound like a Karen

  2. This does not explain what that wall behind the heater should be made of. Is normal plaster adequate? considering there has to be a hearth I thought it had be be fireproof. E.g. like tin or brick.


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