If you encounter a problem with a door or window in your home, the first step toward resolution is to look at the warranty you were given when you purchased the product. Maybe the product is under warranty and you are lucky. You call the door or window dealer and in a few weeks your problem will be corrected. Sadly, it’s not always that easy so here are a few steps to navigating through the process.
After looking at the warranty, and determining if you are still covered, contact the company from whom you purchased your windows. The only exception to this is if the dealer is out of business then you could contact the window or door manufacturer.
What Happens to a Warranty When the Company Closes?
Many door and window companies were forced to close due to the dramatic housing bust around 2007 and the years following, and unfortunately these customers were left with no one to handle their warranty claims. Luckily for some of these homeowners, a few companies may handle a claim for products that aren’t even theirs.
“When I used to do workshops, etc., I always would ask manufacturers if they have replaced a window that isn’t theirs and I almost always had one hand go up,” window expert Mike Burk told Door and Window Market magazine in 2010. “I’m always amazed by that. It’s like taking a Ford to a Chevy dealer.”
“It just comes down to doing the right thing,” said Dave Koester, for Weather Shield Windows and Doors in that same article. “When people buy windows, that’s a huge investment whether it’s on a new build or a remodel. Certainly that customer will talk to people when the job is done and hopefully [the customer is] happy.”
It’s this industry mentality that attracted Chip Gentry, lawyer at Carson Coil, to begin working closely with door and window companies. He says it all comes down to consumer perception and who they remember when it comes to their window jobs.
“I routinely see [instances] where a company replaces an entire new batch of windows [in which] there wasn’t a problem with the product, but rather [a problem with] the way the windows are integrated with the project,” he adds.
Handling warranty claims is a partnership between the manufacturer of the window and door product and the dealer who sold the window to you the consumer. Start with the window dealer and if they are unable to help you could approach the window manufacturer as well.
How Long Do Warranties Last/Do They Transfer to New Owners?
The length of time a company stands behind its written warranty varies greatly. Many experts say 10 years is a minimal norm that many producers exceed. Still, warranty length is extremely variable within the market. In fact, you may have purchased a door or window that came with a lifetime warranty.
“It’s probably done more often than it’s not,” says Gentry.
Most manufacturers do transfer the warranty to the new owners if a house has been sold. Be sure to check the paperwork and ask this before closing if you are purchasing a previously-owned home.
A warranty of 20 years for glass is fairly standard (10 years for non-glass parts), but always check the fine print.
Following are a few examples of warranties from different manufacturers and different materials that are offered within the industry:
- Andersen Windows have a variety of window and door brands and offers an owner to owner limited warranty.
- Several of Pella’s wood windows, for example, have a limited lifetime warranty.
- Milgard offers a Full Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser of its windows and patio doors, which includes Tuscany Series, Montecito Series, Style Line Series, Ultra Series, Essence Series and Aluminum. Moving Glass Wall Systems are not included. “Milgard will repair or replace any defect in materials or workmanship and will pay the costs of all parts and labor for as long as the purchaser owns his home.”
- Window World gets a little more specific and spells out the warranty for its vinyl windows. The vinyl parts warranty covers the vinyl components of the Warranted Product(s) and it says it “will not blister, peel, rot or corrode.” The mechanical parts warranty (locks, vent stops, balances) are warranted to be free from manufactured defects in material and workmanship. Replacements for any defective mechanical parts will be supplied at no charge. The insulating glass unit warranty protects against defects resulting in material obstruction of vision from film formation caused by dust or moisture in the dead air space of the unit for the life of the Warranted Product(s). If the glass unit fails, the company will provide the owner with a replacement insulating glass unit or sash at no charge. The glass breakage warranty covers a replacement insulating glass unit or sash in the event of accidental glass breakage. All labor necessary to correct any item covered by this warranty will be provided at no charge by the Company.
Purchasing Windows and Doors
If you are a consumer looking to upgrade your windows and doors, here a few things to keep in mind when evaluating the warranty.
- The Good Housekeeping Seal. A few window and door companies have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal. The Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI) evaluates safety, performance, ease of use, durability and design. Good Housekeeping offers a two-year limited warranty on seal-bearing products, replacing, repairing or providing a refund up to $2,000 for any merchandise found to be defective. This warranty complements the warranty offered by the door or window company.
- J.D. Power and Associates also conducts a Windows and Patio Doors Satisfaction Study and one of the factors they consider is the warranty. The company surveys more than 2,600 customers who purchased windows or patio doors in the previous 12 months. Companies can receive a total of one thousand points. This number represents overall performance based on five factors: appearance and design features; operational performance and durability; ordering and delivery; the price paid for products and services received; and warranty.
When researching door and window dealers and reading window warranty reviews, be sure to use the locator tool on Glass.com to find the best provider near you.