You just had a new roof installed on your home. As the contractors are packing up their ladders and cleaning up scraps of shingles, they hand you a thick packet of paperwork – including a fancy warranty document. You glance at it briefly, tuck it away in a drawer, and don’t think much else about it. I mean, it’s a warranty right? You’re covered no matter what!
Not so fast. While roof warranties are invaluable for protecting your investment, it’s shockingly easy to void them without even realizing it. And nothing is more frustrating than finding out your costly roof repair isn’t covered because of some small misstep you made years ago.
Believe me, I’ve been there! That’s why I want to break down the key facts about roof warranties that every homeowner should know. I’ll explain the different types of warranties, what voids them, and most importantly – how to keep them intact.
Let’s dive in!
The Two Main Types of Roof Warranties
Before we get into all the ways you can void your warranties, it’s important to understand what they actually cover. There are two main types of roof warranties: workmanship warranties and manufacturer’s warranties.
Workmanship Warranties Protect Your Roofer’s Labor
This warranty comes directly from the roofing contractor who installed your roof. It guarantees their workmanship and labor for a specified number of years. Depending on the company, this coverage usually lasts around 5-10 years but can go up to 25 years or even a lifetime guarantee!
The workmanship warranty covers any defects in how your roof was installed. So if your roofer cut corners and shingles start blowing off in a mild wind, you can make a claim to have them come back and fix their shoddy craftsmanship.
Manufacturer’s Warranties Cover Materials and Components
In addition to a workmanship warranty, most roofing materials like asphalt shingles come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This covers defects in the physical products themselves – not the installation.
The length varies based on the type of material, but often lasts as long as the shingles are rated to last (20-50 years). During this time, issues like cracking, premature wear, or manufacturing flaws are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
Now let’s get into all the ways you can lose these important protections…
7 Sneaky Things That Void Your Workmanship Warranty
It may seem hard to believe, but your roofer’s workmanship warranty can disappear in a flash. Here are some shockingly common ways homeowners accidentally invalidate their coverage:
1. You Hire Another Roofer for Additions or Repairs
Your original roofer will only warranty their own work. So if you bring in another company to install a skylight or replace a few shingles, you’ve now voided the workmanship warranty on those areas.
The original roofer didn’t touch them, so they won’t cover later issues. Only hire your original contractor for repairs and additions while under warranty.
2. Attempting DIY Roof Repairs or Modifications
Even if you’re pretty handy, tackling roof work yourself is risky. You alter the workmanship of the original installer, immediately voiding their warranty in that area.
You also risk making rookie mistakes that cause bigger issues down the road. Leave it to the qualified pros while you’re under warranty.
3. Inadequate Attic Ventilation Causing Damage
Proper attic ventilation extends the life of your roof by preventing moisture buildup and heat damage. If your roofer skimped on ventilation, the consequences can void workmanship coverage.
Why? The materials won’t last as long as if installed properly with adequate ventilation. Definitely have an inspector check your attic setup.
4. Improper Installation from the Get-Go
Shoddy and careless installation is one of the biggest pitfalls homeowners face. If the roofer cuts corners and uses faulty techniques, the warranty is essentially worthless.
Do your research to find a contractor who follows all manufacturer guidelines for proper installation.
5. Trying to Pressure Wash Your Roof
While pressure washing may seem like a simple way to clean your roof, it can critically damage shingles and void warranties. The high-powered spray loosens granules and causes leaks.
Instead, have your roof cleaned using soft wash techniques only. Avoid pressure washing at all costs while under warranty.
6. Not Following the Roofer’s Maintenance Guidelines
Part of keeping your warranty intact includes properly maintaining your roof according to your contractor’s recommendations. If you fail to do simple tasks like clearing debris or inspecting flashings, you could void the coverage.
7. Keeping Improper Roof Documentation
You’ll need to produce acceptable documentation like your contract, invoices, warranty info, and maintenance records to make a claim. Keep these for the duration of the warranty period in a safe place.
6 Surprising Things That Invalidate Manufacturer’s Warranties
You might think manufacturer’s warranties are more cut and dry. But there are still plenty of ways you can lose coverage without realizing it. Here are some of the most common:
1. Incorrect Installation Techniques
Manufacturers give very explicit installation guidelines that must be precisely followed. Even small deviations can completely void the warranty, since the products won’t work as designed.
Hire an installer intimately familiar with that manufacturer’s specifications.
2. Poor Attic Ventilation
Just like with workmanship warranties, improper attic ventilation also voids most manufacturer warranties. Trapped moisture and heat degrades materials much quicker.
Ensure your attic has adequate, code-approved ventilation before installing a new roof.
3. Layering Shingles Over Existing Roofing
It may be tempting to overlay new shingles on top of old ones to save on labor costs. But doing so traps heat, moisture, and puts excessive weight on the structure – violating most warranty terms.
Tear off old materials entirely before installing the new, warranted roof over a clean roof deck.
4. Adding Skylights, Antennas, and Other Penetrations
Any modification that involves penetrating or disturbing the roof surface could void coverage in that area. This includes skylights, satellite dishes, weather instruments, and more.
Consult the manufacturer before installation to ensure you don’t lose warranty protection.
5. “Hot Roofing” with Spray Foam Insulation
Using spray foam insulation on your roof sheathing creates a “hot roof” with poor ventilation. Trapped heat degrades shingles much quicker.
Check that hot roofing won’t void the terms, and be sure to meet municipal codes.
6. DIY Roof Repairs
It may be tempting to fix a minor issue yourself. But manufacturers expressly forbid DIY repairs while under warranty. Always go through approved installers during the coverage period.
How to Keep Your Warranties Intact
By now it probably seems pretty daunting to keep your roof warranties enforced. No worries – there are some simple steps you can take:
Hire a Reputable, Licensed Contractor
Don’t just go with the lowest bidder – be sure your roofing contractor has a proven history of quality workmanship and satisfied customers.
Have Regular Roof Inspections
Catch minor issues before they become major. Keep an eye on critical areas like flashings, vents, and valleys over time.
Consult Manufacturers Before Any Modifications
Get approval before installing anything that penetrates or alters your roof – better safe than sorry!
Keep Detailed Maintenance Records
Document everything you do to care for your roof, like cleaning debris or checking for damage after storms.
Only Use Manufacturer-Approved Products and Methods
Follow their guidelines to a T, and always use components made specifically for your roof.
Never Pressure Wash!
I can’t stress this enough – pressure washing ruins roofs. Always use a gentle soft wash method instead.
Don’t Attempt DIY Repairs While Under Warranty
You could void coverage, so always go through approved installers for any issues.
Roof warranties provide invaluable protections for one of your home’s most important investments. But it’s unfortunately easy to accidentally void your coverage if you’re not diligent.
I hope this guide gave you a good overview of what to watch out for and how to preserve your roof warranty for the long run. Just take things slow, do your research, and consult the experts whenever needed.
Here’s to many years of leaks and worry free living! Let me know if you have any other roofing questions.