Fire officials remind folks to clean their chimneys

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CARIBOU, Maine (WAGM) - With it now getting colder, people are starting up the wood or pellet stove to keep their homes warm. But, how often should we clean our chimneys to prevent a chimney fire?

According to Luke Brabant, a firefighter and paramedic for Caribou Fire and Ambulance, this is the time of year when people start to fire up the stove.

He says before you do, it's important to check your chimney to make sure there isn't a creosote buildup.

“It's like a black hard substance that forms on the side of the chimney,” explained Brabant. “It's a common misconception people think "Oh it's already…the wood already burned off but it's actually that. That can be flammable as well.”

Brabant adds that the best way to prevent a creosote buildup is too clean your chimney regularly.

“A good rule of thumb is usually once a year, do a good cleaning,” said Brabant. “Usually we suggest to do that at the beginning of the heating season you know before you really start again firing up the furnace and everything. If you're burning wood, it's not a bad idea to do it monthly during the cold months, especially if you're burning like a green wood which may cause more creosote buildup in your chimney.”

If you are concerned about having a creosote buildup, there are ways you can check.

“One way to do it is if you have a mirror, sometimes you can shine up from the clean out down in your basement,” Brabant explained. “Shine up the chimney and if you can't really see good daylight or it looks occluded then you know that it's probably needs to be cleaned. You know if you don't see any daylight at all then definitely clean it.”

If you do suspect that your chimney has a buildup, Brabant says there are a couple of options.

“You can buy like a brush and come from the clean out down in the basement or, if you hire I would suggest someone professionally to get up on the roof and clean it that way,” said Brabant.

He adds that if you have any questions you can contact your local fire department