SHARECOMMENTMORE

SEARSPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With the State Fire Marshal's Office dealing with upwards of 500 chimney fires a year, the importance of homeowners making sure their chimneys and wood stoves are clean and up to code is huge.

Owner of Ridge Top Chimney Sweep in Searsport, Chris Kulbe, says that most chimney fires can be easily prevented with yearly check ups. He recommends that folks have their chimneys cleaned at least once a year unless your stove starts acting abnormally, then you should contact a professional right away.

"Any kinds of changes in the system of all of a sudden it's puffing smoke back when it never did, it's time to look at it," said Kulbe.

The New Jersey native started his chimney cleaning business nine years ago. He says the most common cause of chimney firesis the build up of creosote from theburning of wood that isn't fully dry, as well as people keeping a steady but small fire burning in their wood stove around the clock.

"Rather than trying to maintain it around the clock like you're used to and having it burn alot slower and alot cooler, you're better off having a good brisk fire and then just let it go out," said Kulbe.

In addition to having your chimney serviced at least once a year, Kulbe also says it's important to check your wood stove at the beginning of the season to make sure it's working properly. He also highlighted the importance keeping flammables at least three feet away from your stove, as well ashaving working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.