Neighbours BBQ Smoke Entering My House

Hi all, after a bit of advice.

I just moved into a place and recently with the warmer days my neighbours have started using their smoker. They start it early in the morning and leave it going for 8-10hrs at times. Unfortunately my house is very close to where their smoker is positioned. There are periods where I can see puffs of smoke blow over their fence and onto the side of my house. All the windows are closed, except for the bathroom which is about 2cm open to help prevent mould. But when I smell the smoke I close it. I also have an air purifier running to help.

I’ve tried to search online for rules about smoke, but haven’t found anything related to a bbq smoker (only fireplaces and chimneys). If it was a regular bbq that lasts 30 mins or so, I think that’s reasonable. But given it goes on for hours, are there any requirements for them to need to install a flue so the smoke is lifted higher? At the moment the smoke doesn’t even make the roof line. It just carries over the fence then towards my house. Given the proximity ~1.5m, the smoke is not very diffuse, so the smell is strong. None of the smoke blows into the direction of their own house, so they probably don’t realise how bad it is. I let her know about the smoke but they’ve done nothing to fix it. They’ve got it sitting against the fence and don’t want to move it elsewhere.

The other downside is with warm days, if they’re smoking, I can’t use my evaporative cooler because I need to keep the windows closed, or open them and get inundated with the smell of smoke. So regularly leaving my windows shut doesn’t sound like a very comfortable solution.

I don’t want to be a Karen, but I do think it is unreasonable to have smoke drifting into my place for hours on end. Are they required to manage the smoke to minimise the pollution to my side of the fence? Has anyone had a similar experience? If so, how did you resolve it?


    • +3

      the air that enters the cooler would be smokey, it's concentration may be diluted but still noticeable. we had similar at our old house, although it was only a few times a year

      • Depends if the cooler was downwind or upwind but that is a possibility.

  • +2

    Just ask for some smoked meat as CoMpEnSaTiOn. Yummmmmm

    • -5

      If they are smoking the meat for 8-10 hours you won't want to eat it! will taste like ash.

      • +1

        ^ you've obviously never cooked beef shorties, cheek, brisket, lamb shoulder or pork butt.

            • +1

              @GrueHunter: Did it ever occur to you that a neighbour doing multiple cooks everyday close to other neighbour's homes is pretty selfish and a bit too much?

  • +4

    There's theoretically things they can do. A secondary burner on the exhaust would clear up a lot of the smoke. Or a catalyst system that functions similar to the catalytic converter on cars

    I have this same problem BTW. A Greek neighbour on one side, who loves to have family over and smokes meat for 4 hours twice a week, and another neighbour diagonally who likes to burn wet wood in the winter. It's a pain alright

    • Who knew that smoking meat was a bad thing to do in the outlands :/

  • +1

    You're probably going to have to buy a regular AC and just run that when they are smoking.

    If they just bought the smoker, they are probably using it far more now than they down the road when some of the novelty wears off.

  • Make your own smoke back at them

  • +6
    • Call council and find out what the rules are in your area, if you just explain it’s from a smoker they’ll know what the relevant response is. I’d say it’s still a type of fireplace.
      Eg in my local council it would be smoke pollution

    • Take a photo of the smoke blowing onto your property.

    • Also go and speak to the neighbour again, explain how it effects you and ask them about moving it. If it continues put your request in writing.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable for them to have smoke blowing over the fence for up to 8hrs per day, especially since you’ve asked them politely to move the smoker, not even cease using it completely.

    • +3

      Maybe if you’re right in front of it, it smells like meat. It definitely doesn’t smell like cooking meat from inside my house. It’s just smoke smells. The first time I smelt it I thought it was a fire or controlled burning somewhere.
      Good thing you’ve got some distance from your neighbours.

  • +9

    I run a smoker and once it’s going, you shouldn’t be getting massive smoke clouds. Sounds like the neighbour needs some more practice or needs to work on their technique.

    Anyway, any time I do an 18 hour brisket or some beef ribs (which can take up to 10 hours) I always take some to my neighbour as a gesture of goodwill. Sounds like your neighbour is a bit stupid to have not thought about that - sometimes all it takes is a kind gesture in exchange for the inconvenience of the smoke.

    • +3

      run a smoker and once it’s going, you shouldn’t be getting massive smoke clouds

      Exactly..sure, smoke on startup as the charcoal or fire gets up to temp.
      After that it should be barely noticeable

    • +5

      any time I do an 18 hour brisket or some beef ribs (which can take up to 10 hours) I always take some to my neighbour as a gesture of goodwill.

      Damn, come live near me please.

    • +1

      Thanks for your input. Maybe the just don’t know what they’re doing.

      • +2

        yup, that is almost certainly the problem, smokers despite the name shouldn't be billowing out large amounts of smoke for long periods unless they are doing something wrong. I smoke racks of ribs and brisket a few times a year. while the smoker may run for 12-18 hours, it will only be producing any real smoke for the first 4 or 5 hours. after that it is just a big bbq oven. usually I will start smoking early morning and the actual smoke part will be done by lunch and as SBOB says the actual worst part is while the fire is building temp.

    • I don't have a smoker but uses the same briquettes, yeah it's bellowing smoke outta the BBQ for the first 10-15 minutes but once it gets going, the smoke subsides significantly….until I've added more briquettes which is probably a couple of hours' down the track from the initial hit.

  • +14

    Yes… this Pi$$$e$ me off too. No respect. All these TV shows of "smokers" and what not… without consideration of neighbours.

    If you are renting… you have the landlord demand they stop, or move their BBQ. If private however, you have a much bigger problem. They will get smart and deliberately make extra smoke just to $HiT you off. This is the start of your living nightmare.

    You will be unable to enjoy a summer's breeze, bc of their intrusive smoke. They will get drunk and boisterous and begin to toss bottles etc over your fence.

    Only hope is that you are renting.

    • +1

      Sounds like you've experienced this yourself?

    • +6

      consideration of neighbours.

      AFAIK sadly that's not a thing in this country.

    • +1

      Yea and it’s not like we live in a Texas ranch far away from people, it’s suburbia.

  • +4

    Fight fire with water.

    Get a sprinkler that flaps back and forth and goes over the fence and happens to put out the smoker's coals.

    If his smoke can enter your property, your water can enter his just as legally and annoyingly.

    • Lol I have entertained this thought.

    • Wouldn't spraying water on a smoker produce more smoke?

    • Yes, wait until they go inside and then make it "rain" every time the smoker runs.

  • +4

    Demand compensation. Make then compensate you with the delicious smoked meats.

    Tell them you want beef shorties.

    You won't regret it.

  • +2

    Best bet would be to chat with him. I smoke on the weekend and try to cook in the middle of my backyard to not have the smoke blow consistently close to one specific neighbour.

    Edit: if they have a wife who complains of the smoke like mine, they'll be conscious of the smoke they're causing and should be nice about it.

  • If it's really stinky they are probably using briquettes instead of lump charcoal. Ask if they would mind trying the lump charcoal instead - then you'll get decent smelling cooking.

  • +10

    Pretend your very interested in smoking and ask if you could come over and watch them smoke, then keep asking them questions. Be very nice and keep asking questions everytime they smoke. They will eventually get so annoyed at you, they will try to smoke somewhere else to stop you from coming over. LoL.
    Or it could backfire and they love your company and they will smoke even more to get you to come over. Haha. Sorry

    • +2

      Lol this gave me a laugh.

  • +2

    Good luck sorting this out. We have an issue in our neighbourhood where morons put their fireplaces on regularly. It can be a hot 24 day and there’s smoke pouring out this (profanity)’s chimney. Many complained to council and the local member all of who couldn’t give a shit. They guy lights his fires at night now so he can’t be fingered for the crime.

    • That sounds horrible. Sorry you also have a sucky neighbour.

    • Should find a way to block their chimney…

      • +1

        id put a brick through his roof

        • -1

          Pour cement down his chimney

  • +3

    Fire extinguisher the crap out of it, when approached is play by smelling a fire an sewing smoke billow out of an unmanned appliance. Safety first.

    Do a few times and they should get the idea

  • +1

    Imagine if you were also a vegan!

    • +6

      Wouldn't be for long!

  • +26

    Buy a smoke alarm from Bunnings and put it on your fence.

    • +4

      This is probably one of the best suggestions I've heard. I would add that a strategically placed smoke alarm indoors near the window facing the fence would probably have similar effect!

  • What state you live in?

    Victoria is difficult, as smoking/cooking food falls outside of the legislation /regs on smoky chimneys etc.

    • +9

      What state you live in?

      OP could be living in state of despair.

      • I feel for OP, but I also realise there may be little they can do to stop this.

    • +1


      • +3

        Lodge a complaint online to your local council.
        It's a nuisance or unreasonable smoke complaint.

        A local Environmental Health officer will investigate it. They'll speak to your neighbours about how they're burning, they may suggest ways to reduce the smoke or placement of the smoker.

        Tell them how it impacts you, how long it goes for and how often it occurs.

        Give them all the information. They also can't tell them who complained, but it will be obvious to the person smoking.

        Good luck. PM me if you have any questions

    • The state where it’s beautiful one day and smoky the next.

  • +17

    Sorry you had to put up with this. I had similar situation a long time ago with a neighbour, diagonally opposite lighting up charcoal BBQs right next on the fence line.
    Because they didnt want the smoke entering their house. So all the smoke went into our daughters room and we had to close the windows immediately.
    I had a chat to the person but he didnt speak English - older Lebanese gent. Didnt understand and just kept going.. So we put it off thinking it was once off.

    A few days later it started again. I got the shits and pulled out a industrial floor fan from my garage - and mounted it to a 3m fence post and put it on full blast. Smoke went back over the fence and you can hear the chaos. Never happened again after that. I think they got the message, even though we never communicated in a language.

    Sometimes you just have to be thick skin and do it.

    • +1

      and then everyone clapped

    • +7

      Glad you got a solution in the end. I think I might just try this. Even if they continue, as long as it keeps the smoke away then that’s kinda a win win.

    • Nice!

  • +2

    It'd be a shame if their smoker disappeared in the middle of the night.

    • Check the ozb classifieds for a free smoker 😉.

    • Think 4th dimensionally; steal all their meat.

  • +2

    Get a smoker and have smoker wars.

  • -2

    Can you print this poster and stick it on your fence?

    • So you're telling me doc smoking and alcohol is better than eating smoked meat ?

      • Since it's on the internet, I guess it must be true.

  • That's a very well written OP post. Literally I'm surprised no one else has picked up on it.

    I would try the fan idea. They're handy to have around even after they move the bbq.

  • Just throw a bucket or water over the fence into the smoker. "Sorry I thought there was a fire" you'll do it twice maybe before they relocate their smoker.

  • You could talk first

    Don't be mad

    Just explain what the situation is and ask if there's anything you could do to help, and whether there's anything your neighbour needs right now.

    Say you understand the wind blows whichever way it chooses and that everyone likes a little smoked meat but that it's crucial that good neighbourly behaviour continues because "we all have to love here"

    • She has spoken to them, no change

      “I let her know about the smoke but they’ve done nothing to fix it.“

      • If talking doesn't work, I usually think it's good to talk again.

        Initial discussions are often difficult and feel one sided, before everyone learns everyone else's method of communication.

  • Report to your local council, l did only last week,

    As one of the rules weee if it is bothersome to the neighbours

    I pulled up from work last week 7.30 pm and my court was misty,, my garage full of smoke, all coming from a neighbour living over the back, not even in our street, this was the 3rd time that particular week,

    We are just coming out of lock down, l do not want to be locked in my own home and of course hanging washing out, l do not want clothes horses inside when l don’t need to.

    Contact toe council they will help, also maybe get a video of it happening.

  • Since the Old Smoke detectors are being replaced /phased out, they are on special at all
    hardware shops
    I would put say 10 on my fence and just let them go off till it drives them batty :)

    • +3

      I was thinking exactly the same. Put them in one of the bedrooms where the windows have to stay shut. Open the window, go out for dinner. Let the beautiful smoke song ring for hours. All you would need is 1. Neighbour might get the idea then!

      I don't like inconsiderate people, especially when they know about the issue. We have a neighbour who pumps water from a bore in the paddock using a petrol water pump. It's faced towards our house. They know it's loud. They know I don't love it but am fine as long as it is during the day. They still insist on putting it on at 7pm at night letting the raucous sound run until 11ish at night. Don't be a knob!

      • Noise laws?prob put loud music on at 5am directed at their house . They'll get the msg

    • Since the Old Smoke detectors are being replaced /phased out, they are on special at all

      No they aren't.
      There is only a requirement to move to hard wired of you are building a new house or making significant renovations.

      Battery smoke alarms will always be available.

    • This is sounding like a good idea, but given they only come out for a few mins at a time, they probably won’t even notice it going off from inside their house. But it might be good enough for them to realise how much smoke they’re emitting over the fence.

  • If they're not home just douse it.

  • Bikies

  • +2

    Just piss on their smoker

  • -1

    Make an anonymous call to the fire department..few of those calls they'll have to pay the fine and they'll stop

    Note: not serious advice

  • Use your hose to turn it off and flood it

  • +1

    I'm having a similar issue at the moment. A few weeks ago my next door neighbour installed a wood heater in his garage at the front of his house, with the chimney exiting from the single story roof right next to my driveway. When he uses it the smoke pours out, flows up my drive and into my house/backyard. I basically can't go into my yard when he's using it, I can't leave washing hanging on the line, my house absolutely sinks inside too. I have no idea what I can do about it, they don't speak English, I'm sure he's been burning things other than wood in it too as the smoke stinks and stings your eyes. My other next door neighbour (opposite side) has complained to the council about it as it's stinking their house out too.

    • draw a picture then put it in his mailbox…im sure he'll understand

    • Sorry you’re going through that. It’s really horrible to not be able to enjoy your own space, especially with nice weather coming up. Some people are either just clueless, or self-centred. I hope your council is helpful.

      • +2

        Small update on this, I spoke to my neighbour that complained to the council and he said that the council have received 5 other complaints about that guys smoke. Glad it's not just us two that's it's annoying.

        • Wow, that’s a lot of complaints. Hopefully that means the you never have to smell that smoke again!

  • This reminds me of people who take open charcoal barbecues to busy parks or beach reserves. They setup their chairs upwind so they are unaffected whilst the poor buggers downwind cough and choke on the smoke…

    • -1

      sometimes you just gotta live with it mate. The world aint just yours

  • if they’re smoking, I can’t use my evaporative cooler because I need to keep the windows closed, or open them and get inundated with the smell of smoke

    I don't think you know how evaporative cooling works.
    When your evaporative cooler is running you need to leave windows open so that the air can escape your house.

    Evaporative cooling only works properly if there is air movement.

    With the evaporative cooler on the smoke won't blow into your house because the evaporative cooler is forcing air in to your house so the air flow through your windows will be from the inside to outside.

    • Yes air does flow out, but the smoke is 1.5m away. The air flow is not enough to combat the smokes proximity. It may reduce it, but not prevent it completely.

  • i used to do this to my neighbour

    though only for an hour max when bbq'ing

    feel bad reading this, lol

    they were twats anyway

  • not knowing the OPs local ordinances, I would think this comes under the legal term of nuisance, something one could sue for compensation but that would be a long-winded expensive PITA with no guarantee of payment even if ordered by the court

    general advice is to first talk to your neighbours - nicely, e.g. 'Hi - I notice you've got a smoker - that must taste good - how's that working for you ? (listen politely until they ask what you want, then say) 'unfortunately the smoke is coming into our house and that's not good' (wait for their response)

    if they respond appropriately like 'oh sorry I didn't realise - I'll fix it - move it, change time/location to stop it happening again' then thank them graciously and appreciatively

    if they arc up and tell you to STFU and GTFO, then politely advise them that you don't want to have to go to council/fire brigade.

    but I'd first google the address to find out if they are owners or tenants - tenants are more likely to behave badly but can be evicted for offensive behaviour much more easily than owners -

    I once lived opposite a small housing commission block - a number of break-ins in our row of terrace houses occurring within minutes of people going to the shops had us neighbours discussing that it was most likely the high balcony opposite but we had no proof - until one day a Greek wedding shirt (highly uniquely hand embroidered) was stolen from my neighours house - and days later I saw the daughter of the said balcony unit wearing it in the street.

    Well - I rang the manager of the housing commission block and told him the story - and within a few days, that family had been moved out and gone - problem solved !

    So yeah - consider wisely and well, and when the opportunity arises, act with alacrity !

  • Report to strata if you have it

  • Move your indoor smoke detectors, outdoor and then go do the shopping.

  • I smoke using coal and woodchips. The wood burns through after the first 30-60 minutes so smoke is kept to a minimum for my neighbours. They're out of luck if they're using a more expensive pellet smoker though. They smoke for the entire cook.

    Have you tried asking for tasty smokey treats from your neighbour as compensation?

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