MORTON Ill. (WMBD) — As it’s starting to look and feel more like fall, experts are issuing a warning as more people are getting ready to use their fireplaces.

According to the Chimney Institute of America, chimney and house fires peak in the winter months.

Excel Fireplace and Chimney owner Nick Hansen said the number one cause of chimney fires is lack of maintenance.

“As you burn wood the soot sticks to the side of chimney, if it’s not properly cleaned, it actually becomes combustible inside of the chimney and will eventually catch on fire. Looking up the flue is always a good idea making sure it’s clean and clear, there’s no bird debris, no leaves or anything like that. But the biggest thing is to make sure they’re burning good, clean, dry hardwood,” said Hansen.

He said you should get your chimney inspected annually even if it’s not connected to a fireplace.