It's that time of year again, cold weather and warming up by that fire, but a fireplace can cause plenty of problems if you haven't checked it out. 

Erie News Now spoke with Peter Maas at Ferrier's Hardware and Fireplace Shoppe about how to get your fireplace ready.

Maas suggested not waiting until the last minute to see if your fireplace is working, by then it'll be to late.

"The worst thing is the first time you go to use it, it fails, and you need it," says Maas. "That's where the problem is being cautious is the best thing."

It's also important to clean out the chimney and blower which is a frequent source of problems.

Properly seasoned wood and keeping items 3 feet away from the fireplace is also extremely important. 

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, more than 20,000 chimney fires happen each year and many are preventable. 

"Make sure you get it cleaned and checked, just like your furnace and everything else in your house you want to maintain it," says Maas. "You wouldn't drive your car without snow tires, you aren't going to fire up your fireplace without cleaning it out."