Chimney sweep Kevin Connors says this time of year kicks off the busiest season for his business.
"It has to be cleaned and maintained or it'll start chimney fires," says Connors.
Built up soot is extremely flammable and needs to be cleaned out at least every two to three years. That's how often this homeowner has his checked out and because he uses his fireplace to heat his entire home instead of a heater, maintenance is even more important.
"You take care of it, it'll take care of you," says homeowner Thomas Minors.
Lighting a fire without having soot brushed out can easily lead to chimney fires, but that isn't the only thing Connors checks for.
"Also check for gaps or cracks where heat can leak out and set the house on fire," he says.
Connors says that in between professional maintenance. Homeowners should check their fireplaces on their own.
"Inspect the chimney once a year to make sure the brick isn't spalling, and there's not crack in the top of the chimney or mission mortar joints," he says.
Make sure to secure the outside of your chimney with a cap to keep animals out and possible sparks from flying out. You can also keep the amount of soot down depending on the type of wood you burn.
"Try to make sure the wood is cured and not green," says Connors.