Roofing Warranties 101: What You Should Know
While it’s a good feeling knowing your roof carries a 30-year, 50-year, or lifetime warranty, it’s important to know that this doesn’t necessarily mean your roof will last that long. It also doesn’t mean the cost of roof repairs are covered under the warranty.
Not all roof warranties are created equal, and homeowners expecting their roof repair to be covered by a warranty are often left disappointed. Being educated about different warranties and their provisions ensures you won’t come across any unwanted surprises.
Below, we’ve outlined common warranty options, provisions, and other helpful tips so you’ll know what to expect and what to look for.
Types of Roofing Warranties
There are four main types of roof warranties...
1. Manufacturer’s Warranty
This is the warranty offered by the manufacturer of the roofing product (i.e., Owens Corning, GAF, CertainTeed). These warranties can range from 10 years up to a lifetime. The manufacturer’s warranty covers only material defects, meaning the quality of the material was compromised in some way at the time you purchased it. The manufacturer will typically replace defective or damaged roofing material but usually, will not pay the cost of having it installed.
2. Roofer's Workmanship Warranty
If offered, these roof warranties are typically shorter, from 1 to 5 years in duration. A workmanship warranty typically covers roof problems related to the installation of the roof. In other words, if your roof leak was caused because the roofer installed something incorrectly, you're covered. If the leak is related to high winds, hail, or other weather-related problems, your repair work likely will not be covered. Some roofers offer stronger "Leak Free Guarantee"-type warranties, which may cover more scenarios for the term of the warranty.
3. Manufacturer’s Labor and Material Warranties
A limited type of warranty, a manufacturer’s labor and material warranty covers defects in both materials and labor. It usually has maximum limits as to what the manufacturer is liable for. It’s often pro-rated, and the limits can depend upon when the problem occurs. Normally, there’s a small fee for this type of warranty.
4. Manufacturer’s “No Dollar Limit” Warranties
Noted as one of the best warranty options, a No Dollar Limit includes completely repairing the problem, at no cost to the homeowner. The manufacturer will take care of the problem, no matter the scope. This warranty only includes roof leakage caused by defects in the labor or materials. These warranties, like all manufacturer warranties, are determined by terms and limitations stated by the manufacturer.
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There are some key aspects of manufacturer’s material warranties, system warranties, or contractor’s workmanship guarantees.
These aspects include:
- Scope of coverage
- Monetary limits
- Determination of applicability
- Nullification clauses
1. Scope of Coverage
The scope of coverage refers to whether the warranty is limited to defects in materials or if it also covers inferior workmanship. As a majority of roof leaks are attributed to bad workmanship, it’s important to check that your warranty covers workmanship.
2. Monetary Limits
Some warranties impose a limit on repairs based on the original installation cost or amounts configured by square footage. Be sure to read the small print carefully to see if your warranty has a monetary cap.
3. Determination of Applicability
This refers to a manufacturer having the ability to determine whether a needed repair is covered or not. This could lead to loss of coverage despite repairs being covered by the warranty. This provision is sometimes used when the manufacturer determines the problem is outside the warranty’s scope.
These serve to protect manufacturers from liability. Exclusions are often subdivided to include legal and technical, aiming to protect against breach of contract or improper maintenance.
5. Nullification Clauses
Nullifications list out events that will void the warranty entirely. These commonly include lack of inspection at final sign-off, repairs or alternations made without the manufacturer’s approval, and failure to pay bills.
Protection Under Contract
In many cases, it may not be necessary to get a manufacturer’s warranty at all. If worded correctly, and you choose to work with a reputable contractor, the warranty included as part of a contractor’s contract generally gives the best owner protection. It’s the most important provision in the contract documents, providing broad and long-term protection as well as insurance and legal information and remedies, if necessary.
The language in a contract should clearly outline the contractor’s obligation without much exclusion.
ABC Roofing warrants that for a period of X years from the project completion date, any roof membrane leaks occurring from defective material and/or defective installation will be repaired by ABC Roofing at no additional cost to the customer.
Look for warranty provisions that mirror the statement above, as it covers both defective materials and workmanship without language that limits the scope of coverage or applicability. It also clearly states a timeframe of coverage, guaranteeing not only protection and repairs free of cost far but beyond the standard two-year statute of most manufacturers.
Voiding Your Warranty
Each roofing manufacturer and contractor has different criteria for what voids a roofing warranty.
It’s important to fully understand what your warranty covers and what practices you should avoid in order to stay within the contract. Each roofer and supplier is a bit different, but below are common practices to avoid to stay within the realm of the warranty.
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1. Improper Installation
Roofing supply manufacturers have strict guidelines for installing their products. Not following these regulations may lead to leaks or other problems. But in this case, the repair will not be covered due to improper installation techniques. That’s why it’s strongly recommended that homeowners work with a qualified, reputable contractor familiar with the roof they want to be installed.
2. Poor Roof Ventilation
Inadequate roofing ventilation can cause moisture and heat to get trapped in the attic, causing shingles and other roofing materials to wear prematurely. Proper ventilation will regulate the amount of air brought into your attic, keeping roofing materials at an ideal temperature.
3. Incorrect Cleaning Procedures
A lot of homeowners use a pressure washer to remove moss and other organic material from their roofs. However, doing so at a high pressure can greatly deteriorate roofing granules on shingles and will void the warranty, as most shingles are not designed to handle that much stress. Zinc strips or regular washing with a hose will often remove most organic material.
4. Installing a New Roof Over the Old Roof
Although a common practice with metal roof installation, installing a new roof on top of the old material will void the warranty in most cases. The second layer of shingles won’t dissipate heat as well, shortening the lifespan of the roof. In addition, the second layer of shingles will often stick to the old layer, causing bulges. If you’re thinking of replacing your roof, paying for the cost of a total removal is generally the best way to stay within the warranty.
5. Foreign Roof Objects
Antennas and satellite dishes may void sections of the warranty covering leaks, as drilling holes to install these devices may lead to minor problems. While not common in most contracts, it is worth reading the fine print thoroughly to see if you’re covered or not.