SHREVEPORT, La (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport chimney inspector explains why residents in the area should have their chimneys inspected, cleaned, and swept before they start burning embers as winter weather creeps in.

Kevin Russell is the Owner Operator of New Buck Chimney Services in Shreveport. It offers Chimney sweeps, inspection, repairs, and more. Russell says not keeping up with your chimney maintenance can cause a fire from creosote buildup.

“The byproducts of combustion or smoke in creosote which builds up in the chimney to catch on fire. So the less fuel you have in the system, the less chance you’re going to have of it igniting,“ Russell said.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests an annual inspection to ensure the fireplace is cleaned and ready for optimal burning. Those inspections could be life-saving.

“If anything goes awry in it that you’re not aware of, it can be potentially pointed out before you continue to burn in it,“ Russell said.

Checking your chimney can provide peace of mind while preventing harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide from lingering in your home.

“If you think about what you’re doing. You’re deliberately lighting an open fire in the middle of your house, which is surrounded by everything you worked your whole life to achieve. All of which is combustible material around that fire,“ Russell said.

Now that holidays like Christmas, Kwanza, and Hannukah are around the corner, Russell says it’s very important to be careful about placing decorations above your fireplace.

“As you’re putting the decorations, you need to remove the ones that are above the fireplace before you actually start your fire. Because heat does come out of the top of the fireplace, and it can light any combustible that are close to it,“ Russell said.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America also suggests hiring a chimney sweep because it can protect its exterior against bad weather, prevent animals from nesting, and helps with smoky fireplaces.