Roof Warranties: Why You Need to Read the Fine Print

When it comes to cleaning a roof or performing repairs, we’re often asked how what we do will affect roof warranties.

As it turns out, there isn’t a simple answer.


Understanding the Warranties

Warranties are guarantees against either defect in materials, installation or both. They warranty is designed to provide protection from premature failure from those defects.

When you buy tires, for example, they will normally have a tread-life rating. The warranty (we won’t discuss pro-rating) is your guarantee the tires will last at least as many miles as the rating. The catch is that the warranty covers the tires only for ‘normal use’. Take street tires and go off road or drive in a manner which causes premature wear, it would be your fault and the tires will not be covered. That is fairly simple.


Roof warranties follow the same ‘normal use’ principle.

Of course ‘normal use’ for a roof is near impossible to maintain! That would entail ideal conditions.

  • Branches and debris on the roof from our trees can damage shingles.
  • Moss, lichen, and algae build up will damage a roof.
  • Clogged gutters can lead to water behind the soffits which can affect the lifespan of the roof.

And worse still, cleaning a roof and inspecting it for damage which could void the warranty! (Drones could help here, but they aren’t a substitute for the real thing.)

Excess walking on the roof is seen as a factor when it comes to roof warranties. Hire the wrong company or attempting a DIY cleaning or repair, you could cause additional damage.

Homeowners are between a rock and a hard place. If they don’t keep the roof clear of moss and debris, they could void the warranty. If they clean it or walk on it, they can void the warranty.


There is more to consider than ‘normal use’.

There are two more considerations before you get too concerned over voiding your warranty by inspecting and cleaning your roof.

Was it installed properly? Depending on the manufacturer and the type of warranty, the ability to have your roof covered may require installation by a certified or approved installer. Owens Corning requires this for its extended warranties.

The same would apply to repairs (though that leads back to the issue of having the roof inspected and walked on – drones may help here but aren’t always effective)

Additions. We are referring to adding a skylight, solar panels or similar. They involve both walking on and cutting into the roof.

Satellite dishes, antennas, and decorations. Each of this might mean walking on the roof, plus adding holes. In many cases these are done by the homeowner so there is a greater risk of unseen damage.


The bottom line

We had a short discussion with a lawyer about roof warranties. It’s a mine field! Be sure to read the small print.

Of course you could always take the common sense approach:

  • Have your roof inspected twice a year by an experienced professional.
  • Clean your roof and gutters to keep them free from debris as needed.
  • Hire a professional to clean off moss, lichen, and algae properly.
  • Have a professional repair any damage repaired in a timely manner.

Regular roof inspections, maintenance and cleanings are the best things you can do to increase the lifespan of your roof.


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