Did you know that your roof’s materials come with a manufacturer’s warranty? Many homeowners don’t, even though these warranties can save you tens of thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
Your roof is a significant investment that should last a lifetime. But just in case it doesn’t, it’s important to understand how roofing material warranties work.
Otherwise, you might end up paying for costs that are covered or accidentally have yours voided. Here’s a primer on everything you need to know about roofing material warranties.
What Roofing Material Warranties Do and Don’t Cover
A roofing material warranty covers the product used to construct your roof, like shingles, metal, or slate tiles.
The manufacturer guarantees that their product will last for a certain period of time. If it doesn’t, they will pay to repair or replace it.
This warranty only protects against manufacturing defects. A defect is primarily considered to be a roof that leaks, but might also include excessive blistering, curling, cracking, bulging, spotting, or bald shingle patches.
But don’t expect to get a free repair the second your roof shows some wear and tear. Manufacturers consider rooftop weathering to be normal and will only pay for excessive deterioration.
And each manufacturer has its own standards for what is considered acceptable.
It also doesn’t cover you against damage caused by a faulty installation, weather damage, structural home issues, neglect, vandalism, or acts of God.
That’s right. This warranty doesn’t cover you from roof damages due to hail, high winds, lightning, fires, storms, floods, standing water, ice, wind-driven debris, falling trees, earthquakes, and definitely not tornados.
Roofing warranties also don’t cover damages from rooftop foot traffic or installing equipment like satellite dishes.
Any damages caused to the roof by the home’s structure like the walls or the foundation aren’t covered. Neither is damage caused by poor ventilation or excess humidity.
Algae growth isn’t generally included, but some manufacturers will provide coverage if protective coatings are added to the roof or you choose to purchase an extended warranty.
Any roof alterations made without getting the manufacturer’s approval are not covered.
And this warranty only covers the repair or replacement of the roofing material itself. Rooftop accessories are not covered unless the manufacturer explicitly states otherwise. If they do cover accessories, like flashings, vents, pitch pans, adhesives, or metal edges, this will usually have to be from the same brand.
Manufacturers typically don’t cover the cost to remove and dispose of your defective roof. You will need to pay for those costs yourself.
If your roof leaks as a result of faulty manufacturing, this warranty will not cover the damages to your home.
The Different Types of Roofing Material Warranties
You can get fixed-term, lifetime, non-prorated, pro-rated, no dollar limit, original cost, and extended roofing warranties.
Some manufacturers provide guaranteed coverage for a set period of time, like 30, 40, or 50 years. Most roofing materials come with a lifetime warranty, although some manufacturers will provide coverage for a set number of years like 30, 40, or 50. You might also have the option to purchase extended coverage.
The standard lifetime roofing warranty might give you coverage for as long as you own your home. Or “lifetime” might refer to the manufacturer’s opinion of how long their product should last which could be 12, 15, 30, or 50 years.
A non-prorated warranty will give you full coverage for as long as the warranty is valid. If your roofing material needs replacing a day before the warranty expires, the manufacturer should pay for the entire cost of repairing or replacing the product.
A pro-rated warranty means that the extent of your coverage will diminish as time goes on. You can usually expect full coverage for the first 10 to 15 years.
But after that, manufacturers will only pay a portion of the cost to replace your roofing materials and you will have to pay an increasing share.
You may have to pay as much as 20% of the repair costs once your full coverage term ends. This will continue to go up.
After a certain point, the pro-rated warranty will only compensate you for a small part of the product cost.
You can also purchase an extended roofing warranty for coverage on roofing accessories and components like water barriers, the underlayment, hip and ridge cap shingles, vents, starter shingles, and flashings.
Manufacturers will guarantee these under certain conditions. This might include purchasing a certain number of components in order to qualify and having the installation done by an approved contractor.
These warranties tend to be given for shorter terms than the main roofing material.
A no dollar limit warranty means the manufacturer will cover everything it takes to repair or replace your roofing.
An original cost warranty means the manufacturer will only repair or replace up to the original cost of your initial product purchase.
Roofing warranties generally come with multiple options. For example, you can get a lifetime warranty on pro-rated or non-prorated terms. Or you might get an original cost warranty for a fixed term.
Roofing Material Warranties Can Sometimes Be Transferred
Warranty transferability varies. Many do not permit any warranty transfers, with coverage restricted to only the homeowner who purchased the material.
If it doesn’t apply strictly to the first owner, the typical lifetime warranty will put a limit of one transfer only. Anyone after the second owner will not be covered.
You can usually get a transferable roofing warranty if you’re willing to pay for it. However, these also come with added administrative costs and conditions for the next owner.
Manufacturers will charge a fee to transfer a roofing warranty. Some will also lower the coverage once it’s been transferred.
Roofing Material Warranties Can Be Invalidated or Voided
You can easily lose your warranty coverage. Roofing manufacturers void their warranties for any number of reasons.
Common ones include poor installation, poor housing ventilation, too much humidity, a lack of inspections, and simply not informing them of issues in time.
If you want to preserve your warranty, never add anything to your roof without clearing it with the manufacturer first. Making unapproved alterations like adding HVAC units, satellite dishes, or solar panels can invalidate your warranty.
Always have your roof worked on by a professional roofing contractor who is approved by the manufacturer. This is a good idea even if your warranty doesn’t restrict you to certified service providers only.
It’s easy to damage parts of the roof with improper care and any damages caused by negligence will invalidate your warranty. Even having your roof pressure washed can void your warranty.
Finally, since damages caused by the home itself aren’t covered, you should always make sure that your home’s ventilation and structure are sound. Poor ventilation, excess moisture levels, humidity issues, or structural shifts can seriously damage your roof and invalidate the entire warranty.
If damage does occur, contact the manufacturer within 30 days. If you exceed this time, the manufacturer can choose not to honor the warranty.
Every manufacturer will void their warranty for different reasons. Check with each one before purchasing to see what their terms are.
Understand Roofing Warranty Terms and Conditions
Always read your roof warranty’s fine print. Many people have found themselves without coverage due to various exclusions or limitations.
Check for these roof warranty issues in particular:
- What’s a lifetime? Is it 5 years with a no dollar limit, 25 years, 50 years, or for as long as you own the home?
- What is considered defective? You might want to replace shingles that are blistering and curling eight years into your warranty. But the manufacturer may consider this to be normal weathering.
- Are you compensated for the original dollar cost or what it currently costs to fix the damage? A no dollar limit warranty will give you better protection if roofing costs spike after your purchase.
- What upkeep are you required to do? Manufacturers require regular maintenance. Make sure you know how often this needs to be done.
- If you have an extended warranty, check the protection terms for each item that’s covered. You might discover that accessories have a much shorter protection term than the roof itself.
Make sure you have a comprehensive list of everything that can void your warranty.
Protecting Your Roofing Warranty
Roofing warranties are tricky. Several things can invalidate or limit them, but protecting your coverage isn’t as difficult as manufacturers might like it to be.
- Always get the manufacturer’s approval for any work, alterations, or rooftop additions.
- Keep records of the contractors who have worked on your roof.
- Consider getting pictures taken before and after any roof work.
- Have your roof regularly inspected to comply with your warranty, catch problems early on, and find defects before your term expires.
- Only use an approved roofing contractor for inspections and service.
Your roofing investment is worth protecting. You can save tens of thousands of dollars with good maintenance by the right professional. Contact us if you’d like help understanding your roofing warranty.