For the most part a warranty covers what the written warranty says it covers, but you are covered through an implied warranty on all products you purchase. Unless the product is advertised “as is” or “sold with all faults” it is implied that the product is sold without defect and is working condition.

Windows are sold with varying degrees of warranties, mostly as express warranties. You may get an express warranty from the local home supplier when purchasing a window. What the warranty gives, the express warranty fine print takes away. If a double-pane window is advertised with a warranty glass breakage, the fine print may require that the window be installed by a certified or licensed contractor. When these conditions exist it may be a limited warranty. Read the fine print as it may affect your rights to have the window replaced even if it is defective.

So, what is a lifetime warranty? Whose lifetime? Again, read the warranty. You can hope that the window warranty covers the life of the home. Lifetime warranties for windows are generally sold by authorized and certified installers of the manufactured window. The manufacturer warranties the window because it was a quality window when it left the plant and that it was manufactured according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The manufacturer can have some assurance that it will generally last a long time. They have tested it to last long enough in order to warranty it for the life of the home.

Then if the installer goes out of business who is responsible for the lifetime warranty? As the end buyer you would have a claim with the manufacturer and can be assured they will honor the window warranty. However, they will not cover the labor costs to correct the problem. They will only supply the materials. Do you want to feel responsible to contact the manufacturer if a window fails in this situation? Traditionally warranties have coverage for manufacturing defects, not installation. They didn’t sit at your kitchen table and sell you the window. That is why it is important to have some assurances that the company installing the window is stable and has a solid reputation. Will they be around in 10 years? If they have been in business for the past 10-20 years it is likely they will be around long enough to service any potential problems.

Other questions to consider in a lifetime warranty:
  • Is the warranty transferable to other owners of the house? If you sell the house five years from now you will want to know if you can tell the buyer that the windows are under warranty.
  • Does the warranty cover broken panes, even if a baseball is thrown through the window? You may have a point of contention with your local baseball team but a reputable company will warranty the window if the pane is broken by accident.
  • Does the warranty cover service charges for warranty work? The materials may be guaranteed. Look for a company that will cover the labor costs to service the window.
For the next few weeks we will provide a series of postings based on the free booklet “Free Replacement Window Guide - Five Steps to Trusting Your Home Remodeling Contractor”. This free guide is exclusive to Ohio homeowners. Simply click here to download your guide and watch in the future for more guides on gutter protection, siding, and other home improvement projects.