First, you should know that warranties are a tool that manufacturers use to sell their product, and they don’t promise your roof will last forever. In fact, some roofs wear out long before their warranties expire. If it’s important to you to have a good warranty on your roof, here’s what to look for:
- Have you read the fine print on the warranty? Long-term roofing warranties usually include language that seriously limits the manufacturer's liability should something go wrong. Example: The warranty might become void if you sell your home, so your buyer won’t have a roofing warranty, even on a roof that’s fairly new. Does the warranty require you to perform some kind of maintenance on the roof—and invalidate if you neglect to do so?
- Is maintenance “recommended” or “required” by your warranty? If it’s required, make sure the warranty states what, specifically; you need to do, and how often, in order to keep your warranty in force. Keep a record of every repair and inspection so you can prove you have complied with the requirements of the warranty.
- What is the length of the warranty? Manufacturers of high-end roofing products often offer lifetime warranties. Others range from 10 to 40 years. But that doesn’t mean your roof will last that long; plenty of homeowners complain that their roofs wear out before the warranty expires. That’s because most warranties cover only product defects, and not normal wear, tear and weather damage.
- Does the warranty cover repairs and replacements or just one or the other? Sometimes, you really need new materials because the originals are beyond repair.
- Will the warranty pay for product defects and problems that arise from poor workmanship? Roofing manufacturers claim that more than two-thirds of the problems that homeowners have with new roofs are the result of poor installation, so many do not cover workmanship.
- In case the roofing material fails; will the warranty cover the cost of replacing the roof and the labor costs? Some manufacturer’s warranties pay for replacement materials but not the labor to install them.
- Does your roofing contractors offer a separate warranty to cover errors in workmanship for up to 10 years? Select your roofer carefully, as the warranty on workmanship is good only as long as the contractor stays in the business. Hire a roofer with a long track record whom you trust to stick around to fix future problems. Do business only with a contractor who has a roofing license fro the state Registrar of Contractors.
- Did you save your receipts for materials, the contractor’s invoice, and the contract or original estimate? You’ll need that paperwork if you have to file a claim against the warranty. You’ll have to prove that you were the owner at the time of purchase, as some warranties do not transfer to the new owner when you sell your home.