LA CROSSE, Wis. -

It's only mid-September, but now is the time to get some of those cold-weather preparations out of the way before the snow flies.

That includes getting your furnace checked and your chimney swept.

Not doing so can increase the risk of a fire or a problem with carbon monoxide in your home.

Waiting until cold weather hits to call in someone to check your furnace or chimney could also mean you might end up on a waiting list.

"You get the first cold night. People start thinking about it, and it lingers on well until after the snow goes. Once the snow is happening it's much harder to do," says James Elliot, owner of Champion Chimney in La Crosse.

A more difficult job can also be more dangerous for someone sweeping a chimney. It could also cost homeowners more.