What do you mean “that’s not covered”?

Here are nine common exclusions in roof warranties.

  • Consequential damage. Let’s be clear, the warranty may very well cover the repair of the roof leak itself, but little or nothing else. The greatest expense in a roof leak is the consequential damage it can cause: wet insulation, structural decking damage, slip and fall incidents, inventory or equipment damage inside the building, production shutdowns, mold, insect infestation, etc.
  • Natural or man-made disasters. Materials manufacturer is not likely going to back their product to the extent of warrantying it against such disasters such as withstanding the force of a tornado, hurricane, or severe storm, nor the impact damage from the debris caught up in them.
  • Ponding water. The care and maintenance language of most warranties clearly describes how a building owner is required to “maintain positive drainage,” or not allow water to pond and sit on a roof for 48 hours under dry conditions.
  • Structural movement. A building’s settlement or movement may result in splits or tears in a roof’s membrane. This structural movement cause is excluded by most warranties.
  • Environmental hazards. Exposure and proximity to salt water, industrial chemicals or other corrosive materials, particularly when the likelihood is not disclosed beforehand, can damage a roof in a manner that’s not covered by the warranty.
  • Unauthorized repairs. A question to consider when adhering to a warranty’s terms is “Who can repair the leak?” The authorized contractor is chosen by the manufacturer, and the key is how long it will take them to respond to your leak. Terms rarely, if ever, are specific as to how long they have to respond. But meanwhile, your roof is leaking and creating havoc inside your building. You want to be careful to balance the emergency needs of your building with the terms of your warranty when making repairs to what possibly might be a warranty claim. You’ll also want to be familiar with your warranty’s notification requirements after detecting a leak, both how quickly you need to notify the manufacturer (typically 7 to 30 days) and the method of notification (by certified mail, in writing, by phone, etc.).
  • Change in usage of facility. The classic example is a roof on a steel-structure warehouse building that later gets converted into a refrigerated storage facility for a vastly different type of usage. Clearly, the roof system and insulation type weren’t chosen with that purpose nor temperature conditions at play, so manufacturers largely don’t cover claims made after a building’s usage conditions change.
  • Change in ownership. Warranties are generally not transferable. If you buy a 20-year warranty, but you end up selling the building after eight years, the warranty terms will likely not be honored for the new owner.
  • Wind speeds. When wind gusts get beyond 55 miles per hour (10 or greater on the Beaufort wind speed scale), resulting damage is typically excluded from warranty coverage.