Asked on Dec 29, 2016

What can I do about wood smoke coming into my house?

Marty Grimson
by Marty Grimson

I need help. My back door neighbor heats with a wood stove all winter. They are downhill from me. Almost all their smoke makes its way into my house, causing headaches, itchy eyes, asthma and chest pain for my elderly mom. No city ordinance will help. I've done everything to seal my house. What next?

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  29 answers
  • William William on Dec 29, 2016

    You may be able to put up some kind of barrier, like a high fence, to block or break the smoke and direct it over or around your home. As far as laws are concerned, that would probably be a local issue, check with your city/county/whatever to find out if it is regulated in some manner...They may have, but not likely, something within their "nuisance laws". You may be out of luck on this one... a fluke of air movement patterns and such.. If there are, it seems likely that your neighbor is violating them. *****

  • Marty Grimson Marty Grimson on Dec 29, 2016

    I have a six-foot board fence. There are no nuisance laws to cover this. They have the right to burn as much as they want, 24/7. I have checked with several departments in my city and there are no rules to help me. Believe it or not, the house is not close to mine; it's about 150 feet away.

    • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Feb 10, 2021

      check with your local county or state environmental agencies outside of city

  • AK AK on Dec 29, 2016

    If you have vents leading outside in the area where you notice the smoke, you may want to close them. If you are friends with this neighbor, you may want to ask if they not much so much wood in their stove so that the amount of smoke you experience is decreased. You can also share with them the troubles you are experiencing bc of the fumes in your home. Sometimes, when we light our fireplace in the family room, we notice the smell in our masterbath bc our bedroom is directly above the family room. We close the vent and tone down on how much wood we burn at any given time. This has decreased the smell for us, especially lowering the amount of wood.

    Good luck!

  • Marty Grimson Marty Grimson on Dec 29, 2016

    I don't know the neighbor. I have soffit vents, which I will be taping shut for the winter. I've already put up plastic sheets inside taped over my double pane windows. I don't think it's coming down my chimney; don't smell it in front of my FP.

    the neighbor uses the stove to heat their whole house.

  • Gas14100714 Gas14100714 on Dec 29, 2016

    your furnace, if you have central heat may be pulling in alot of the smoke.. you might install a pre-filtering system so the furnace can get more filtered air. to use..

  • Marty Grimson Marty Grimson on Dec 30, 2016

    It seems to come through the back wall and windows. Mainly affects two rooms, family and kitchen. Smoke doesn't come through the heat vents and other rooms on my downstairs system don't get the smell. Upstairs doesn't get the smell either and is on a second HVAC system. Both have very good filters.

    • Alfred Alfred on Dec 26, 2022

      I have newly double pane windows and new AC 19 SEER that handle the smoke but that little bit is bothersome.

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Dec 30, 2016

    You are going to have to vapor/insulate/seal the windows and sills of those rooms. If you think it is coming in thru the walls, you need to seal your outside roof soffets. You will not find municipal codes to solve your problem unless you are in a city building, maybe. Your other final solution is to put the house up for sale in the Spring/Summer when he is not burning wood and the air is fresher. This issue may not bother another owner as much and you will be free of the problem. It is not needed to disclose your issue.

  • Kathleen Basiewicz Kathleen Basiewicz on Dec 30, 2016

    I'm not sure that there is much you can do aside from putting your whole house in a plastic bag. We had lots for forest fires this fall, and even with new double paned windows and new roof, it still came into the house. Perhaps you could just buy a fan for the rooms that get mostly affected.

  • Shawna Truman Shawna Truman on Dec 30, 2016

    I would call your HVAC professional and ask them for a solution. There are air scrubbers that can be installed to clean the air thats pulled into the handler before it's put into your house. That's the only thing besides determining what pulls it into the house. If it's being fed into the air system outside you could put a barrier up just in front of the A/C unit to try and block as much as possible. The HVAC professional will have the best solutions for you and they have probably seen the problem before. Good luck!!!

  • Marty Grimson Marty Grimson on Dec 30, 2016

    Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions. I'll do my best to seal the back of my house. I'm convinced it's not the HVAC system. Once I seal soffit vents for the winter, I think that will help in addition to sealing windows in plastic (already done). Not selling house. This is my dream house.

  • Peggy Peggy on Jun 27, 2018

    I am so have this problem, it also makes me I'll.

  • Deatra wood Deatra wood on Sep 20, 2019

    I have same problem I have and my grandchildren have asthma and it triggers our asthma and causes congestion and fluid in lungs fir them and me I talked to my neighbor he said he would have to talk to his roommates about how this is effecting us it could kill either of us if it continues The. He asked do you mean forever duh very upsetting that anyone would want to have pleasure if a wood burning evening outside at the expense of a persons life especially a child I have been in the neighborhood for over 40 years I have also looked information up on the internet and they suggest to talk to the neighbors and if that doesn't work to try talking public on different channels to bring attention to the situation if the neighbors won’t consider stopping the wood burning fires

    • Paul Paul on Sep 12, 2020

      You have the right to breath clean air and whoever tells you that you dont is probably a wood burner.

  • Billy Billy on Nov 02, 2019

    Just a thought, see if your neighbor can or will burn the wood pellets of he has a stove. The pellets are more efficient and produce less smoke.

  • Jason Edwards Jason Edwards on Apr 05, 2020

    She says, "No city ordinance will help." There in lies the rub! This woman has a close in residence that has resorted to heating their home with pollution creating wood heat. We don't call people like these neighbors, we call them nuisances! If we had this situation we'd learn the process for local legislation -- how things work in your/our community. Are you familiar with your state laws on this subject? Make it so. Attend a few local meetings of the governing body you hope to influence. Craft your arguments accordingly! Also, find a friend in office. Have you contacted your council member or alderman? Get active community support -- a group of like mended individuals haunted by the same health ruining nuisance. You can become more involved by DRAFTING the new ordinance. Prepare for what the opposition will have to say about this. Go public! Testify! Compromise if needed. Regroup after defeat. Celebrate victory, BUT remain vigilant. Before I did any of this I'd contact a lawyer with my plans of this and suggest legal action regarding the actions of that wood burner next to you. That home is FAR too close to you and should not be allowed to do burns on a regular basis 24/7 within a community of other homes. This is VERY wrong and needs to be righted -- BY LAW!

    • Paul Paul on Sep 12, 2020

      No, im sure there are already nuisance laws. Its just like loud musice, you cant blare your mnusic so loud to disturb neighbors.

  • Gayle Spott Gayle Spott on Sep 19, 2020

    I’d like to know myself. I have a wood mill behind me that burns every day. My thinking is the weekend should be mine with them not burning but they also work Saturday. Over the last week the temp. outside has dropped finally! The wind is coming out of the North East. Gorgeous days. Now I can cut my grass without smoke. Wrong! They burned today and it’s Saturday. Isn’t there a law that if someone in truths or encroaches on your property with smoke like that, isn’t that illegal? The only problem I’m really faced with is there right behind me so I have to be nice to them and they’ll be nice to me, you would think.

  • Kelina Thomas Kelina Thomas on Dec 05, 2020

    Most furnaces work on a 4 to 1 rotation. 4 indoor air cycles and 1 outdoor cycle.

    By attaching a filter to your duct leading to the outdoors, you’ll be cutting out your smoke problems completely.

    • Rocco Stramaglia Rocco Stramaglia on Feb 09, 2021

      Thank you for this. I have a neighbor that lives 10 feet away from me and their exhaust pipe is pointed right at my windows. At least once a week I get a migraine headache from the smell and I wasn't sure what else to try after covering windows with plastic didnt do squat.

  • AlanRabs AlanRabs on Aug 19, 2021

    Has anyone ever found a solutions for woodsmoke invading thier homes? Legal or otherwise? My neighbor not only refuses to stop burning but now antagonizes me that he's going to burn all fall and winter and there's nothing illegal about it. I told him and his wife numerous times it makes me (asthmatic) and my kids (now using inhalers) sick, yet he refuses to stop any burning. It's a bad relationship now and I call the Fire Dept to complain about his firepits when the smoke is coming into my home. Since he's a volunteer fireman they just leave and ignore my complaint. I'm in NY.

    • Alfred Alfred on Dec 26, 2022

      I live Texas San Antonio worse then NY laws. None exist here.

      my only dream they run out of money buying the wood.

  • Nan55156975 Nan55156975 on Nov 24, 2021

    I would recommend you check with those who deal with air quality. I know Vermont has an Air Quality Control Department within the Agency of Natural Resources. You may even have a local government air quality person. Im about to enter this same “battle”. Good luck.


  • Alfred Alfred on Dec 26, 2022

    I hate to say this but we have people that still live around us who don’t care about their health and don’t care about their neighbor’s health and our leader don’t care at all

  • Janice Janice on Jul 27, 2023

    You can purchase room air purifiers online at such places as Amazon. I'd certainly invest in one for each room of your house. Some of them are very quiet and might help a lot.

  • P P 6 days ago

    Call your town supervisor. Write letters every month asking them to remove the wood stove etc. explaining it is dumping soot and smoke on your property. Complain/ write to your governor and EPA and even the president. This is a terrible national problem. Woodsmoke is deadly and 12 times more cancerous than cigarette smoke. It stays in your lungs 40 times longer. Causes strokes and heart attacks. Complain / call/ write to as many government officials and the DEC as much as possible. People have to stand up for their health and their pets' health.

    Wood stoves are big business.

    • P P 6 days ago

      Air purifiers, etc. will not solve anything. Only banning wood boilers and wood stoves will solve the problem.

  • P P 6 days ago

    One out of two men have cancer. Cancer is big business. Fight for clean air and health. Go to "burning" to learn more.

  • Jason Edwards Jason Edwards 4 days ago

    There's more at play here besides itchy eyes and the stink. Ultimately, wood smoke stinks! Beyond that it is a well known health hazard. Some of the more concerning pollutants produced include particulate matter, CO (carbon Monoxide), acrolein (an irritant), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds including bezine (a cancer producer), and dioxins , also highly carcinogenic. Ultimatrely, everyone has a right to breath clean air that does not present any heath risks. The health department needs to be contacted by your attorney or Congressman. Befopre doing so, contact the home owner and producer of these fires and explain exactly your concerns. Don't get nasty, don't quarrel, just state the facts and leave. If the fires persist, get busy!

  • P P 4 days ago

    Complain to the town and zoning board. Ask them to remove it. Write to the governor and President. They need to be banned. Woodsmoke is 12 times more deadly than cigarette smoke. Go to

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec 4 days ago

    Sad to say, you might have to move.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 2 days ago

    Speak to your neighbour and tell them of you problem. Ask if it is possible to divert the smoke?

  • Hi Marty! Before investing in a permanent solution, try opening slightly an outside door or window near where the stove is installed. If the house is tight or negative pressure is a problem, the stove will burn better with a door or window slightly ajar than it will with the outside doors and windows closed. Hope this helps!