Wood Stoves & Fireplaces Cause Smog Problems in Montreal

It’s that time of year when people start turning up the heat and cranking up the wood stove to get warm. But the excess smoke from burning wood is causing smog problems in Montreal.

Environment Canada issued a smog warning on Sunday evening for the city as well as nearby communities Chateauguay, Longueil and Laval, according to the Montreal Gazette. The warning advised people with respiratory issues and asthma to restrict physical activities.

The agency wrote on its website: “High concentrations of fine particulates are expected and will result in poor air quality.”

One of the major causes of these fine particles are heat sources that use wood. The agency continued, “Stop using your wood-burning stove or fireplace until the smog warning has lifted.”

There are several ways people can reduce smog. According to the agency, “We can all help improve air quality by doing simple things, such as limiting the use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, opting to use public transit, reducing our driving speed and not letting our car engines idle unnecessary.”

There are several tips to make sure your woodstove is safe:

  • Make sure it’s installed properly with correct clearance between the stove and nearby combustibles
  • Have a proper venting system
  • Use wood such as maple, beech, ash, hickory or oak
  • Clean your chimney at least once a year
  • Avoid creosote buildup
  • Season wood outside for at least six months
  • Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling
  • Burn wood to the coals, then rake coals into a mound and add three pieces each time
  • Regularly remove ash, place it in a metal container, cover it, and store outside

Fireplace safety:

  • Keep a window cracked open if possible
  • Open the damper or flue before starting a fire to draw smoke outside
  • Use dry, seasoned wood
  • Smaller pieces burn faster and smoke less
  • Clear ashes from a previous fire
  • Have a professional check it once a year for animal nests and other things that may block the chimney
  • Remove anything near the fireplace that may be flammable
  • Do not leave the fire unattended
  • Put a safety screen over it to protect small children
  • Install smoke and carbon dioxide detectors in the house
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby


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