Warranties: What you should know to truly protect your roof investment

by Kevin Krolczyk

Congratulations! You have a new roof (or you're getting one soon). And, of course, there's a warranty, so you're golden. Nothing can go wrong!

Not to burst your bubble, but too often, people allow the idea of a warranty to lull them into a false sense of security—and what you don't know could indeed hurt you.

First, there's a lot of fine print that most of us never take the time to read. Although most roof systems come with a 10-year warranty, coverage can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer. For example, some warranties say they will "fix all defects," and some say they will "keep the roof watertight." Those are two significantly different things. Subtle differences like this can make a big difference when roof issues develop.

Additionally, consumers sometimes believe it doesn''t matter which roofing contractor installs the roof because it will have a warranty. With most warranties, the roofing contractor who installed the roof system covers the first two years. So using a reputable, certified roofing contractor who will respond to any problems (and remain in business!) is important. Some manufacturers are strict about this, and some are not.

If anything, this highlights the importance of using a contractor you trust; you don't want to start learning the details of what is or isn't covered once an issue has developed, and you want to be working with someone who is looking out for your best interest. A good contractor will provide you with advice and clarity regarding the aspects of a warranty that often are misunderstood.

Another factor often overlooked is that a warranty can become invalid if there hasn't been regular preventative maintenance performed on the roof system. Think about it: If you had a problem with your car but had never even changed the oil, chances are the warranty may not be honored. People who are expected to cover warranty items want to know you've at least taken reasonably good care of the product.

Finally, don't rely on warranties for long-term peace of mind. A 10-year manufacturer's warranty doesn't mean you'll have a great roof in 20-30 years. The real value of a warranty is for someone who is thinking of selling in the near-term. After the warranty period, it won't matter how good a warranty was—people will care about how well the roof system has been maintained.

Whether you're looking at residential or commercial roof systems, you should consider these factors before signing on the dotted line.

Kevin Krolczyk is president of Mint Roofing, Long Lake, Minn.

Date : 12/1/2015