It’s hard to believe — until you see that the leaves on the trees have already started changing colors. Fall is just around the corner. The month of September starts hot and finishes on fire, in that it signifies National Chimney Safety Week, Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

Your house’s chimney is easy to forget. It’s not used every day, and for many people it’s been an afterthought since May or earlier. The fireplace and chimney are neglected until the moment they’re needed.

Don’t let that neglect turn into a 911 call.

“Fires in chimneys can start for a variety of reasons. They can be poorly built, or incorrectly designed, or the chimney flue sees a buildup of creosote over time,” says Ashley Eldridge, director of education for CSIA, based in Plainfield, IN. “If you’ve ignored the need for an inspection, you are taking a risk.”

Your chances of having another chimney fire increase if you’ve already had one. Chimney fires are not always a blazing infernos on the side of your house. They can be slow-burning, and you may not even know you’ve had one.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends annual chimney inspections, and cleaned when needed; your approach should be based on usage.

(Some homeowners even get a second inspection during the burning season!)

How do you find a professional chimney sweep? CSIA, a nonprofit formed in 1983, has a great resource right on our homepage — just put in your zip code.

What type of firebox needs an inspection? Wood-burning fireplaces/chimneys might come to mind initially, but so do gas-burning fireplaces. Natural gas or propane logs do not produce the visible soot and creosote as wood logs do, but they are depositing a fair amount of corrosive substances into your chimney.

Gas fireplaces should have their ceramic logs checked as they can deteriorate and clog the vents and pilot light. This will not only help prevent chimney fires, but fireplace issues as well, which can occur when the pilot light and other connections are not functioning correctly.

Take care of your chimney. One of the most relaxing things on a cold winter night is to sit by the cozy warmth of  fireplace.

While we’re at it; CSIA is a Weather-Ready Nation ambassador; we have a duty to let all know that the season is more than just leaves crunching under feet. It can also bring weather hazards such as strong storms with whipping winds, early season snows and floods. Don’t let dangerous fall weather catch you unprepared! With just a few simple steps, you can be weather-ready for whatever comes this fall.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Know Your Risk

  • Check every morning before you leave home to make sure you’re prepared for what the weather might bring.

2. Take Action!

3. Be A Force of Nature

  • Inspire others to take action by showing your friends and family how you are prepared. You can tell them over the phone or in person, or tweet or post about it.

— Tom Spalding

(And additional thanks to writer Laura Nedig; we used excerpts of an interview we conducted with her for a 2014 blog post.)