Getting work or repairs done on your chimney can be a nerve-wracking experience. After all, your chimney is a major component of your home. Even if you don’t routinely use your fireplace, chimney maintenance is critical to the stability, safety and water-tightness of your home. A cracked, broken or leaky chimney could cause of a host of serious home issues, such as damage to your roof, attic or ceilings. Additionally, if the masonry on your chimney begins to crack or crumble, you could be in danger of having pieces fall from your roof, which could cause damage to your property or hurt someone.

You don’t want to hire just anyone when your masonry chimney needs repair or maintenance. If you are building a new home or rebuilding the fireplace, you also want to know the professional you hire for the job is competent and able to produce a high quality, long lasting chimney for your home. When you don’t know much about masonry, hiring a professional can seem like an intimidating process, but it really doesn’t need to be. Here are some questions to ask your contractor before you commit to someone building or repairing your home’s chimney.

What kind of licensing and certifications do you have?

You should work with a Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) approved contractor. The MCAA sets standards for masonry, which is a skilled field of work. You want a masonry professional who is capable of working with a variety of materials, such as natural rock, clay and even bricks made from concrete. The right masonry professional should also know how to work with tiles composed of ceramic, stone or terra cotta. You should ask to see their MCAA certification and any other licenses and certifications they have qualified for during their career.

Do you carry liability insurance for your work?

If something goes wrong with the chimney repair or installation, you want to be working with an insured masonry professional. A large stone or brick could damage your roof, siding or windows. A mistake while working on the chimney crown or flue could result in soot or smoke damage inside your home around the fireplace. Make sure that your contractor has insurance coverage for any and all damages accidentally caused by asking to see their proof of insurance.

Does your experience include my style of roof and chimney?

Different materials and designs may require different approaches to chimney repair and construction. Working on a tiled roof will require different skills than working on composite asphalt shingles. Some chimney contractors may have experience with construction but not repairs, while others may not know how to rebuild a chimney crown. Your contractor should have experience handling exactly the kind of work that you need to have done.

Do you have experience with brick and stone designs?

You don’t just want your chimney to be functional, you want it to be attractive. Find a professional who understands the beauty of chimneys. You may want to ask for referrals or pictures of completed projects to ensure their aesthetics match yours.

What kind of payment schedule do you offer? Who buys the materials?

Different contractors have different requirements for payment and material purchasing. Do you need to pay up front for half of the estimated cost with the remainder due at the end of the project? You may also be able to buy the materials for a lower price in some situations. Find out if that’s an option.

What kind of schedule do you estimate for the project?

In some cases, you may be flexible about when the work is done. If you want to avoid the rainy season or use your fireplace this fall, faster scheduling and quicker completion are definitely going to be important to your overall satisfaction with the work.

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