Expert advice on avoiding house fires this holiday season.

By Meghan Overdeep
November 08, 2018
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With temperatures dropping across the country, experts are urging homeowners to have their fireplaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected. Doing so, they say, could help avoid life-threatening fires and prevent dangerous fumes from sneaking into your home.

Speaking with the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Fire Department spokeswoman Michelle Tanzola explained that the start of chilly weather always seems to bring a rash of emergency calls along with it.

"We typically see an uptick in calls for the smell of something burning when people turn on their heaters ... and for people forgetting to open the flue to the fireplace," Tanzola said.

Todd Harkrider, the owner of Houston-based Harky's Chimney and Home Services, added that an inspection and sweep of debris in fireplaces and flues should also be done before you fire up your, well… fire.

Harkrider explained to the Statesman that debris buildup inside flues and vents can cause fires to spread from the fireplace to the chimney. Before residents even know what's going on, a house fire can break out.

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Sure, a fireplace inspection will cost you (between $100 and $200) but that's a small price to pay if it means avoiding a catastrophic fire.

Inspections are also important to make sure no cracks have formed that could allow toxic fumes and carbon monoxide into your home. "If there's any missing mortar, those can become fire and carbon monoxide hazards," Harkrider said.

For more information on fireplace and chimney fires, and help finding a certified inspector, visit