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What Does a Lifetime Warranty Really Mean?

June 7, 2024 | 3 min. read

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When it comes to investing in a new roof, the term “lifetime warranty” can be incredibly appealing. However, like any significant investment, it’s crucial to understand what you’re getting. 

In the roofing industry, a lifetime warranty can mean different things depending on the manufacturer and contractor. 

Rescue My Roof has spent a decade being a leading educator in the roofing industry, helping homeowners navigate the complexities of warranties. Today, we’re going to help you, too.

This article will break down what a lifetime warranty typically covers, the potential limitations, and what homeowners should be aware of before making a decision. Ultimately you’ll know what you’re getting into.

Understanding the Basics of a Lifetime Warranty

A lifetime warranty in the roofing industry generally implies that the manufacturer guarantees the product for the life of the roof. This can seem straightforward, but it’s essential to delve into the specifics:

  1. Manufacturer’s Warranty: This covers defects in the roofing materials themselves. It means that if the shingles or other roofing components fail due to a manufacturing defect, the manufacturer will replace them.
  2. Workmanship Warranty: This covers installation-related issues. If the roof fails because of improper installation, the contractor is responsible for repairs.

What “Lifetime” Really Means

The term “lifetime” can be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily mean your entire lifetime. In the context of roofing warranties, “lifetime” typically refers to the expected service life of the roofing materials. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Material Lifespan: Most asphalt shingles, which are common in residential roofing, have an average lifespan of 20-30 years. Thus, a “lifetime” warranty often means 20-30 years.
  • Prorated Coverage: Many lifetime warranties are pro-rated, meaning the coverage decreases as the roof ages. For instance, you might have full coverage for the first 10 years, after which the manufacturer will cover a decreasing percentage of repair or replacement costs.

Key Components of a Lifetime Warranty

  • Full vs. Limited Coverage: Full coverage typically applies during the initial period (often the first 10-15 years). After this period, the coverage becomes limited, often requiring the homeowner to pay a portion of the costs.
  • Transferability: Some lifetime warranties can be transferred to a new homeowner if you sell your house. However, there might be conditions or a fee associated with the transfer.
  • Exclusions: Common exclusions include damage from natural disasters, improper installation, lack of maintenance, and normal wear and tear. It’s crucial to read the fine print to understand what is and isn’t covered.

Potential Limitations and Conditions

All warranties have a catch. Here are a few to watch out for when reading your policy:

  • Regular Maintenance: Many warranties require regular roof maintenance and inspections. Failure to document this maintenance can void the warranty.
  • Proper Installation: The warranty might only be valid if the roof is installed by a certified contractor. Hiring a non-certified contractor can lead to warranty voidance.
  • Claim Process: Filing a warranty claim can be a complex process involving inspections and paperwork. Ensure you understand the steps and documentation required.

Navigating the Lifetime Warranty Landscape

A lifetime warranty in the roofing industry can offer significant peace of mind, but it’s essential to understand the details and limitations. By asking the right questions and thoroughly reading the warranty documentation, you can ensure that you’re fully protected. Proper installation, regular maintenance, and understanding the terms of your warranty will help you maximize the lifespan and durability of your roof.

Investing the time to comprehend what a lifetime warranty entails will pay off in the long run, ensuring that your home remains protected and that your investment is well-guarded against unexpected issues.

With the right warranty in place, homeowners can enjoy the many benefits of their roof, secure in the knowledge that their investment is protected for years to come.

Learn more about warranties with “All About Atlas’ Shingle Warranty” and “Comparing Shingle Manufacturers: 3 Key Considerations.”

While Rescue My Roof does not offer metal roof installation, we can help walk you through warranty coverage or find a compatible asphalt shingle roof. If you’re looking for a roofing company in southeastern Wisconsin, let us be the ones to guide you. Contact us today to get a free roof estimate.