Warranties can be very dull to read but contain valuable information that only takes a few minutes to take in. A few important questions regarding a window's warranty period, parts covered, installation coverage and transferability of ownership will be answered in this article.
Before we get into the sections of warranty's terms and conditions, let us first explain how important warranties actually are in terms of quality.
Warranties Indicate Quality
Many homeowners disregard the warranty because they think that installing quality windows will always perform up to par for a long time. Quality is many things, and one of them is the quality of assembling the window parts. After the manufacturer rigorously tests the window, it is then up to the engineers and lawyers, not salespeople, to write the terms of the window's warranty. This means that a warranty is a strong indication of the window's level of quality. Warranties are not just documents that you can use to prove ownership, but they are also a means of gauging the window's durability. A window with a lifetime warranty means that there's a lot of confidence on the part of the manufacturer about the finished products, which is good news for you and your home. A warranty that covers a window component for two years reflects how long the manufacturer expects the component to be fully operable.
The Key Differences Between Warranties
The devil is in the details. For marketing purposes, your window manufacturer will state the longest round-up number of years for warranty coverage, but there are exceptions to the terms of lifetime warranties and the like. The exceptions are usually where the window's potential weak points lie.
Warranties, in general, vary in four important sections in their terms of coverage as they are explained below.
Labor coverage: There are two aspects of labor, labor as it pertains to installation, and labor of repairs. The warranty does not always cover both and, in fact, often doesn't as a strategy for the window company to relieve itself from certain window repairs or from repairs altogether. Manufacturers typically do cover damages incurred during installation, if the installation was performed by a designated contractor. Other times the manufacturer will cover installation damages and repairs for a select number of years (i.e. complete coverage of installation damages, and two years for repairs since the start date.) Some manufacturers will give real lifelong coverage for window repairs, which is a huge difference between warranties that are essentially branded 'lifetime' under different circumstances.
Glass breakage coverage: Every window warranty will most definitely mention how glass breakage is covered. The company may outline the exceptions attributed to certain window models and when the warranty is not applicable, such as with acts of nature (i.e. hurricanes, civil disorder, unwarranted installation, and building settling). The warranty may cover the full cost of the glass or a certain percentage of it for you to pay the difference.
Hardware and screen coverage: Manufacturers understand that some moving parts of a window are exclusive to that window alone. They will typically include real lifelong coverage on those parts but may not do the same if the hardware in question can be found elsewhere. Screens are usually not covered because they are abundant, cheap, and easy to install. The terms sometimes do cover failing hardware but not fully functional ones that discolored or rusted.
Persons covered: Warranties can extend strictly to the original purchaser and not to any second-hand owners. Others will extend their coverage to new owners if the original owner sells the home before a certain time period has elapsed (i.e. 5, 10, 15, or 20 years).
An Example from Milgard
In the example image above, Milgard states its exceptions for the full lifetime warranty coverage. These terms are actually not that bad but they are important to know nonetheless. For instance, Milgard is not liable for repairing damaged stainless steel parts in "highly corrosive" environments, which makes sense as it would be impractical to answer all those demands from customers. Homes that reside near a coastline like Myrtle Beach may not be serviced by Milgard's warranty when a window's stainless steel component develops rust or when a wood frame rots, because the humidity levels in those areas are highly corrosive to stainless steel and damaging to wood.