When it comes to shopping for replacement windows, you want to make sure you have a strong warranty. Reading through warranties can be a daunting process as there are so many ridiculous loopholes and exceptions.
First off, know this — not all replacement window warranties are the same. There are lifetime warranties with all the bells and whistles covered, then there are limited lifetime warranties, where some are pro-rated, meaning they’re worth nothing after 5 to 10 years.
Other warranties are only good for a certain period of time — 10, 20, or 30 years and depending on the years, you may have to pay a certain percentage should something go wrong. But what’s exactly covered? Is it only the hardware and not the glass or the frame? One crazy loophole is some warranties won’t cover you if you’re within a 5-mile radius of a body of water. Here on Staten Island, we’re surrounded by water. If you’re not on Staten Island, chances are you live by a pond, river or lake and guess what? That counts, and your warranty is worthless.
Generally, all warranties that are transferable, the original purchaser must be residing in the residence for it to be honored and if sold, the new owner must also live there for it to be deemed good. These warranties can be transferred only once.
What’s important to keep in mind is that every warranty on the market has a disclaimer saying that they don’t cover improper installation. You could be buying top-of-the-line replacement windows, but if they aren’t installed properly, it’s not going to matter, and you’re going to start throwing temper tantrums wondering, ‘Why is my window leaking? Why am I still feeling drafts?’ and so on.
What’s also important to keep in mind is natural disasters, airborne pollutants, accidents and the misuse of cleaners that can potentially damage the windows, aren’t covered in these warranties.
So how can you avoid from being had? Read the fine print and ask a lot of questions.
One window manufacturer who carries lifetime warranties is Soft-Lite. Here’s a breakdown below:
Soft-Lite’s limited lifetime warranty is one of the better ones on the market.
What it Covers
Broken glass and everything else except what’s listed below.
What it Doesn’t Cover
- Components or materials used in the installation of products including caulking, screws, insulation and wood finish trim
- Damage caused by misuse, neglect, fire or other casualty or any other cause beyond the control of Soft-Lite (except the glass breakage coverage)
- Cases in which insulated glass unit is altered
- PVC coatings* (10 years)
- Exterior foil laminates (10 years)
- Leaded glass (10 years)
- Internal mini-blinds (10 years)
- Condensation that forms on the outer surfaces that can be wiped off
- Labor costs (Your installer covers this)
*Soft-Lite warrants that the PVC coatings on the exterior of its windows and patio doors won’t peel or blister from applied surface or materially discolor due to natural environment and atmosphere conditions for 10 years.
The limited warranty is conditioned on the normal use and care of the products. You must report any scratches, dents, nicks, or similar surfaces defects within 60 days after the limited warranty begins. If you don’t, you lose the right for surface defects.
How Long it Lasts
The limited warranty starts the day the windows are installed. PVC coatings, exterior foil laminates, hardware on patio doors, and any product containing mini blinds or leaded glass is guaranteed for 10 years. Everything else, as long as it remains where it was originally installed and the purchaser still owns and resides in the residence, is covered for life.
Some states don’t allow limitations on how long an implied warranty lasts, so this may not apply to you.
As you can see, this is one of the best warranties in the industry. The physical sheet is a page-long and there aren’t a ton of limitations and clauses. It’s easy to digest and you’re not staring at it for hours on end trying to figure out if something is covered like you’ll see from the other warranties in this article. Though it says that labor isn’t covered, you don’t have to worry if you’re having them installed by us.
That’s why we at The Men With Tools Home Remodeling chose Soft-Lite, so we could give you peace-of-mind that not only are you receiving a top-notch installation experience, but you’re also getting a high quality window that won’t cause you headaches if the window does develop a defect.
Read more about Soft-Lite’s limited lifetime warranty here.
This comes with a transferable limited warranty on glass and other components.
Here are some of the specs:
What it Covers
- Glass protection for 20 years (labor not included)
- Hardware (non-glass portions) for 10 years (labor also not included)
- Non-glass portions of windows with wood exteriors are subject to a limited warranty of 5 years
What it Doesn’t Cover
- Products not manufactured by Andersen
- The performance of the low-maintenance exterior glass coating on products with High-Performance Low-E4 glass
- Minor warping of wood and clad-wood doors. Andersen may defer actions on any claim for warping for a period of up to 12 months from the date of the claim in order to permit conditioning and equalization to humidity and temperature conditions
- Slight glass curvature, minor scratches or other imperfections in the glass that do not impair structural integrity or significantly obscure normal vision
- Rattling of grille bars within an air space
- Insects passing through or around the insect screen
- Tarnish or corrosion to hardware finishes
- Special glazings
- Service trips to provide instruction on product use
- Andersen 400 Series windows with Stormwatch protection and with impact-resistant glass
There’s Also This …
When warranty coverage is unclear, Andersen may charge an inspection fee for any on-site product inspection. If the inspector determines the product has a defect covered by the limited warranty, the inspection fee will be waived.
For a wood window, this warranty isn’t bad. Labor isn’t included, but again, you’re covered with us. You get guaranteed glass protection for 20 years without any ridiculous exceptions like living in a multi-family home. The physical document is 2 pages long, so again, you shouldn’t develop any headaches.
This warranty isn’t transferable and broken glass of any kind isn’t offered. If you live in Hawaii or Alaska, don’t bother buying these windows because the warranty isn’t good there.
For the exterior color finish, there are certain colors that aren’t covered which include: soft white, beige and sandtone. Also not covered are accessories and hardware, including insect screen frames, and aluminum coil stock.
Andersen backs that its products won’t blister, peel, flake, rot or corrode for a period of 10 years. Also it warrants that material obstruction of vision on the internal surfaces of the insulated glass unit caused by seal failure should be free from defects for 10 years.
What’s Not Covered
- Any modification or alteration
- The failure to perform necessary maintenance
- The neglect, abuse, improper handling and/or improper storage
- Exposure to excessive heat and/or cold beyond naturally occurring conditions
- Stresses caused by building defects or settlement or movement of the structure where window was installed
- Application of harmful cleaning solutions or products
- Misalignment of grilles/muntins of 1/8" or less from appropriate position
- Slight fading and/or color variations caused by normal aging or weathering
- Improper removal of any permanent warning or identification labels
- Rusting or corrosion of non-vinyl products or components due to the close proximity to coastal areas unless the product is composed of appropriate stainless steel or other non-corrosive hardware
- Damage due to the transportation or installation of the glass product or products at altitudes in excess of 3,500 feet above or below point of manufacture unless equipped with capillary or breather tubes
This warranty is terrible. Non-transferable? All of those exclusions? What’s even the point of buying these windows? What’s the most laughable is how certain exterior color finishes aren’t covered and if you live on Staten Island or anywhere near a coastal area, the warranty is voided.
Read more about Andersen’s Silverline series limited warranty here.
For the Alside Mezzo series under transferability provisions, only products manufactured in Bothell, Wash., or Yuma, Ariz. qualify for the terms and conditions in the warranty.
The vinyl sash frame and mainframe, moving parts, fiberglass screen and screen frame and insulating glass unit are all covered for as long as the original purchaser or present homeowner own and reside in the property. Labor is also free of charge.
What’s Not Covered
No glass breakage or torn screening or any kind.
Can’t Transfer After 10 Years
Another interesting loophole is in order to be able to transfer your warranty to a new homeowner, it must be done within 10 years from the date the windows were installed. So if you decided to sell your home 11 years later or say, 10 years and 2 months, guess what? The warranty is no good.
Body of water disclaimer
Remember the body of water radius? If you live in Hawaii or within 2 miles of any coastline, don’t buy these windows as the manufacturer isn’t liable for natural weathering of exterior finishes or corrosion of the hardware or screens in highly corrosive environments.
Again, no broken glass coverage offered and if you live near a coastline your warranty is canceled out, so this is a terrible choice for Staten Islanders or anyone surrounded by water. Also not being able to transfer your warranty after 10 years is bogus. The lifetime warranty on the window frame, parts, glass and labor is pretty good if your home qualifies.
Read more about Alside’s Mezzo lifetime limited warranty here.
Pella 250, 350 Vinyl Series Limited Warranty
Accidental glass breakage isn’t covered. Like its counterparts, the warranty is transferable, however there are a ton of clauses. Under each, Pella states that if it’s given notice of a defect in its product, they will repair it with labor included, which is great, but only within 2 years of the sale to its authorized dealer. No, not even the date it was installed, the sale.
How ridiculous is that?
Here are the rest of the clauses:
Nonglass Materials and Workmanship: Transferable within 10 years, but again, it’s of the sale date, not the installation. On top of that, it’s only transferable if you live in a single-family home.
Non laminated Glass: Transferable within 20 years
Laminated Glass: Transferable within 10 years
Blinds or Shades Sealed Between Insulating Glass: Transferable within 5 years
Exterior Surround Made with AZEK Trim: Transferable within 25 years
DuraColor Exterior Paint: Transferable within 10 years
What Else Isn’t Covered
- Improper storage, handling, installation, finishing, use, modification or maintenance
- Mechanical abrasion to finishes
- Non-factory-applied finishes, applied sealants or caulking. Finishes applied by your local dealer/contractor
- Finishes of non-Pella products
- Structural settlement, movement or vibration
- Products exposed to excessive localized heat, high-moisture environments (including pools, hot tubs and greenhouses) or water leakage
- Application of after-market window films to glass surfaces
- Damage caused by inappropriate finishes, solvents, brickwash or cleaning chemicals
- Glass breakage that results in seal failure
- Damage caused by high in-home humidity (condensation, frost or mold)
- Products subjected to conditions outside product design limitations
- Improperly installed security systems
- Products with modifications that are not approved by Pella Corporation
- Hardware finishes
- Damage and/or discoloration not the fault of Pella to blinds or shades sealed between glass associated with wear and tear through product use, sun exposure, abuse or age
- Ripping, tearing or other damage not the fault of Pella to window screens associated with wear and tear through product use
- Insects, including grasshoppers
- Finishing or modifying the structure containing the repaired or replaced product
- The purchase, damage, repair or replacement of non-Pella products
- Products that have not been paid for in full
Where to start? What’s up with this ‘from the time of sale’ mumbo jumbo rather than the installation date? That can get extremely complicated when battling customer service over the phone and they tell you, ‘well, the windows were purchased 6 months before you installed them, so your warranty is no good,’ and hey, this stuff happens all the time.
But one of the worst clauses here has to be that you’re not covered if your windows aren’t paid off. Who’s able to buy windows outright? A lot of Pella customers finance these higher priced windows. It’s nonsense especially if you’re replacing the whole house.
Read more about Pella’s 250, 350 vinyl series lifetime limited warranty here.
Just like Pella, there are a lot of clauses in this warranty. On top of that, it’s broken down into residential vs. commercial/multi-resident where it’s less years if you’re not living in a single-family home.
Transferable and Not Transferable
For example, for Simonton’s factory-applied exterior coating and cap stock, the warranty is transferable and good for 10 years of the initial purchase, but for commercial and multi-residents, it only lasts for 3 years and isn’t transferable.
Limitations are very specific for bay, bow and garden windows as to what’s covered as well. If you're not caring for the window properly according to Simonton’s standards, your warranty may be voided. Some of these examples include:
- A roof must be built over all bay or bow windows after installation because top of the window isn’t designed to prevent water penetration as manufactured
- A cable system must be used to help support from above all bay and bow windows
- Don’t use water-based stains or water-based sealers on the Oak or Birch veneer in the bay, bow or garden window unit. Use of these stains or sealers can cause delamination or other damage of the wood veneer and isn’t covered
You Have to Pay Certain Percentage
For the insulated glass unit, Simonton’s replacement line coverage varies. A 3-year breakage warranty comes standard and you’re covered for 20 years if it’s not for commercial use or multi-family, but then you’re charged a certain percentage. For 21 to 50 years, you have to pay 25% and anything more than 50 years, it’s 50%. This also varies on the model.
Like a lot of other warranties, Simonton also doesn’t cover labor costs.
This is the only warranty of the group that has clauses for bay, bow and garden windows and on top of it, your warranty coverage is different if you live in a single-family home vs. a multi-family unit. You’re being penalized and it’s not right. It’s unclear where condominiums fall under, but again, it’s absurd how the warranty is broken down into different living categories.
Read more about Simonton’s double lifetime limited warranty here.
Our Final Rankings
Hey, accidents happen. Windows break. What’s important to keep in mind is when something does goes wrong, you want a manufacturer who’s easy to deal with. If their warranty has all of these clauses, limitations, loopholes and is pages long, then chances are, they are going to be a nightmare and who wants that?
How do these warranties stack up?
- Soft-Lite — 1-page, no-nonsense, peace-of-mind
- Andersen 400 Series —2 pages, glass protection, easy to digest
- Alside Mezzo — No glass breakage, coastline clauses, non-transferable after 10 years
- Simonton — 6 pages, confusing clauses, out-of-pocket percentage expense
- Pella 250, 350 Series — 4 pages, complicated clauses, junk
- Andersen Silverline — No glass breakage, non-transferable, ridiculous clauses
Remember, brochures are written by salespeople and warranties are written by lawyers. When a window manufacturer offers a fully transferable non pro-rated lifetime warranty with very few clauses like the Soft-Lite windows that we carry, it tells you just how much confidence they have in their products.
When considering new vinyl replacement windows for your home, pay close attention to the fine print in the warranty and you’ll be sure you’ve made the best choice for your hard earned dollar.
Are you in the market for replacement windows? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY who won’t caulk and walk and will give you a fair price. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.