A window warranty is only as a good as the company that stands behind it. I have seen different versions of a lifetime warranty. Some really do mean lifetime, where other warranties pro-rate over time. It can be a complicated issue that we as homeowners have to figure out, many times on our own.
Here is a brief breakdown of the popular warranties that I have seen. First, here is a quick summary of some ‘name brand’ window companies’ warranties. These companies typically offer a 10 year warranty on parts, and a 20 year warranty on glass. Some of these companies offer a transferable warranty to a second homeowner, while others do not. And the vast majority, offer a product warranty, not a labor warranty. This simply means, homeowners would get the replacement product/parts for free but may be charged for labor in servicing the product.
Another popular warranty is one that is called a lifetime ‘pro-rated’ warranty. A pro-rated warranty may imply a liftetime warranty, but if we examine the fine print, we find out a few things. First, the warranty has a sliding cost scale on it. It may say that after 10 years, we as homeowners, are responsible for 50% of the cost of the product at the date it needs to be replaced. Costs always seem to go up, so it is difficult to get a handle on what our warranty costs may or may not be. It’s safe to say that it will be expensive.
With these types of warranties, we also may find that if we sell our house, the warranty either expires or pro-rates. This may have an effect on the resales value of our homes, which especially during this economic time, is critical.
As a homeowner, I suggest really examining a replacement window warranty before making a purchase. We should be looking for a warranty that offers a lifetime warranty that doesn’t pro-rate. Also, we should look for a warranty that is fully transferable and also doesn’t pro-rate. Obviously the former is great, because we don’t have to worry about the cost of products increasing over the years should something happen to our replacement windows. The later (fully transferable) part of the warranty is great because this helps us in resale value of the home. This type of warranty may initially cost us extra in the window purchase, but in the long run, it is of greater value because it will either save us money or make us money when we sell our homes. If we can find a warranty that also will cover labor, this would be gravy. But the majority of manufacturers don’t include labor in the warranties. But many times, the remodeling company we purchase the windows from, do include the labor. I hope this helps you in your replacement window buying decision!
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