In part 1 of our warranty blog series we talked about the warranty that is typically referred to as the best warranty available “Lifetime Warranty – Including Labor.” What we learned from our first blog is the assumption that a best warranty can work for some homeowners, but when we look under the surface at the real time exposure this type of warranty as presented from the manufacturer’s view point we discover that this warranty is not necessarily a perfect fit for all homeowners.
So, now we will discuss another warranty sometimes referred to as a 10-20 warranty which covers 10-year full product with 20-year coverage on the glass against seal failure. This warranty has been around for 10+ years and has typically been associated with mid to high-range level window and door manufacturers who build wood interior windows with either aluminum clad or vinyl clad exteriors. For the first 10-years a homeowner with this warranty coverage should expect to receive replacement parts that have worn out or stopped working. Now, unlike the “Lifetime Warranty-Including Labor” the typical 10/20 warranty does not cover labor charges. So, the parts come free of charge, however most homeowners need to have a skilled service technician replace the part for them which results in an out-of-pocket expense.
How often can a homeowner expect to have an out-of-pocket expense related to failed hardware? There are going to be many different answers to this question, obviously depending on who is being asked, but when you look into the guts and materials that a manufacturer uses to build their basic window and door and the quality of those products we discover that hardware issues are rare when the full volume of products that are out in the field are calculated. Most major manufacturers in this arena of the warranty field use high quality parts which in turn reduce their warranty exposure risk. Meaning that the moving and operating parts in products that are covered under a 10-20 year warranty are expected to meet or exceed the 10-year period of exposure in which a manufacturer has offered coverage.
So, that is wonderful the parts are quality manufactured and are expected to last for a good 10-years, and most homeowners do not live in their homes longer than 5-7 years, so they reasonably can expect to have smooth operating windows and doors while they occupy their home. These homeowners enjoy the warmth of a wood interior window and for most manufacturers and product offerings in this warranty realm they enjoy maintenance free exteriors too. This in layman’s terms explains the 10-years, but what about the 20-years on the glass? O.K., now looking at the glass portion of a typical 10/20 warranty, the glass is covered against seal failures for 20-years. A seal failure is when moisture seeps in between the two panes of glass and builds up on the inside glass surface creating a hazed or cloudy look. This is when the glass needs to be replaced, or a replacement sash is required. What happens here is the manufacturer will provide either glass or a sash which typically needs to be replaced by a service technician. Again, labor is typically not a part of warranty coverage which will result in out-of-pocket expense to the homeowner.
Another out-of-pocket expense? Yes, however when the guts and materials that a manufacturer is using to build the original window is taken into account and the quality of those pieces are looked into we can see how much exposure a manufacturer is really on the hook for. Glass is laid up (put together as a two paned glass unit) by several different methods which either can increase the amount of seal failures, or can reduce the number of seal failures to be expected. If a manufacturer is laying up their own glass units on old or out-dated equipment a higher rate of seal failures can be expected. However, if a manufacturer has a reputable glass supplier who manufactures the raw glass, lays up the glass and delivers finished raw glass units to the window and door manufacturer than the level of exposure or risk of seal failures are greatly reduced. So, here we are again looking at the guts and quality of what a manufacturer puts into their product lines. This is where the real rubber meets the road, and when a manufacturer uses the best products available to manufacture their products, this reduces their risk of warranty exposure. This also not only reduces their warranty exposure, but it increases the expectation for a homeowner to enjoy smooth operating windows and doors while they occupy their home.
There are other aspects to a 10-20 year warranty including fade rates of exterior colors which are just as important as hardware and glass which will need to wait for another blog in the future. For this blog we have focused on the two main issues which are hardware and glass. Now until part 3 post has been completed we recommend you go with a window/door distributor who is forthright in manufacturer’s warranties and who takes the time to address your warranty questions and not only knows their own products but who is knowledgeable about their competitors too. Ask questions, and read the fine print in manufacturer’s warranty details. Look into the raw guts and materials that are being utilized to build the windows and doors that you will live with for either a lifetime or 5-7 years …