Q. We are considering replacing the roof shingles on our home. While shopping for the new shingles I've noticed a great variety among warranty time lengths offered by different shingle manufacturers. What do you recommend that we look for in a shingle warranty? Is there that much difference among the companies? We appreciate your help.
A. Let me tell you what to look for and what to look out for with asphalt shingle warranties. The first thing that you've noticed, I'm sure, is that there seems to be a direct link between shingle warranty length and the price of the shingle. That's no surprise. So let's look closely at the fine print to see where real warranty lies.
Extended shingle warranties can range from 20 to 40 years but the actual coverages are quite limited. Some say they can withstand up to 120 MPH winds if installed just right.
The very first thing to be considered with this type of warranty is the workmanship exclusion. Frequently the roofer must be approved or certified by the manufacturer to install a particular type of shingle. In all cases, quality of application is the f irst thing the manufacturer's representative is going to scrutinize during a claim investigation.
Always qualify the contractor before awarding him the job. License, insurance certificate and references are a must in my book. Travel to some of his recent work and talk to the homeowners. Did he clean up after himself or did he trample the azaleas?
Too often consumers price shop the labor and take the lowest bidder only to wake up at some later date to find out that the shingles were improperly applied, voiding any warranty, and now the homeowner is stuck. The directions for application of any and all roof shingles sold in North America are printed upon each bundle of shingles, frequently in more than one language. I'm always amazed at how few roofers read them, much less follow them. It would behoove you to read those directions also--- at the start of the job.
The longer warranties, the "lifetime" ones, are often good for the lifetime of the person buying the shingles and is non-transferable. I think it silly that a shingle warranty should be a health issue so I wouldn't bother with it.
The time of notification of the defect seems to be an issue with manufacturers. Some fine print that I've read says the manufacturer must be notified in writing within 5 days of discovery of the defect and frequently will require samples sent along for analysis. But it's been my experience that roofing manufacturing defects commonly don't just jump up at you at the moment of defect but show up gradually over time, unless it's hail or wind damage-- a totally different category. Remember, warranties ar e written by attorneys and insurance executives-- not roofers.
Keep in mind a warranty is a wager between you and the manufacturer. No good gambler makes a bet he doesn't expect to win and no good businessman is a reckless gambler.
But the big issue contained within any shingle warranty is who is going to pay for the removal and disposal of the defective shingles and cover the labor costs of re-shingling. That's where the hammer meets the nail in the roofing business. And most wa rranties are pretty short lived when it comes to that. Frequently no more than 5 or 10 years at best.
So the bottom line on shingle warranties is that they are better than no warranty at all.
Shingle performance is dependent upon many factors such as compass direction-- south facing roofs age quicker-- roof slope, weather, workmanship and, lastly, quality of manufacture, which is the most controllable factor in the equation.
My advice is to select the shingle that you think makes your house look the best, select the roofer who will turn in the best work and, for the best job, have the roofer tear off the old roof down to the wood before placing any new material on your house . Have “Ice and Water Shield” placed at the first course of underlayment to prevent ice damming and drip edge at the entire perimeter. Don’t allow the reuse if flashing and plumbing vent stack boots-- get new.