Roof leaks are cause for immediate concern. Not only can they cause damage to the underlying structure and interior of your home, but they also signal costly repairs on the horizon. While replacing an asphalt roof shingle is relatively simple, properly sealing a leak and fixing any resulting damage usually require the services of a professional contractor, and those don’t come cheap.
Many people seek financial protection from roof repairs with a roof warranty, which may cover some of the costs of materials or labor. Manufacturers, contractors and the best home warranty companies all offer some form of warranty protection, but they cover different types of problems. We’ve done our research on roof warranties, and we’re here to review your options for coverage.
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How Long Do Roofs Last?
Your roof’s lifespan is primarily determined by the materials of its shingles. Here’s a general idea of how long different types of roofs last, according to U.S. News & World Report.
|Roof Material||Lifespan (Years)|
|Slate, copper and tile roofs||50|
|Wood shake roofs||30|
|Fiber cement shingles||25|
|Asphalt shingle/composition roofs||20|
As you can see, most roofs will need to be replaced after 20-30 years, even if they’re properly maintained and regularly inspected. This may sound like a long time, but replacing or repairing a roof is an expensive job.
Roof Repair Costs
Here are some typical out-of-pocket costs for roof repair, per data from RoofingCalc.com.
- A minor repair like sealing a leak by replacing an asphalt shingle usually costs between $150 and $400.
- A moderate repair like sealing roof fixtures (chimneys, skylights or vents) and replacing the shingles around them costs between $400 and $1,000.
- A major repair like addressing underlying damage to the wood of the roof or upper walls costs between $1,000 and $3,000.
The costs for replacing a roof are again determined by the material of the shingles. Materials that last longer are more expensive to install. Here are some typical costs for both the materials and installation for different roof types, according to RoofingCalc.com.
|Material||Total Cost per Square Foot||Cost for a 2,500 Sq. Ft. Roof|
Clearly, replacing a roof is a major expense on par with purchasing a car. You can extend the life of your roof by taking care of any leaks immediately, and you can plan ahead by budgeting for a roof replacement, but life doesn’t always give you the time and money to do so. Another option to protect yourself financially is purchasing a roof warranty.
Types of Roof Warranties
As a homeowner, you have access to several types of roof warranties. They all come with different guarantees and conditions, though, so you’ll need to pay close attention to what you have.
Manufacturer’s Material Warranty
A manufacturer’s warranty is the most common kind of warranty and is provided by the manufacturer of the shingles or tiles that cover your roof. It only covers manufacturing defects in the materials that cause them to fail before they should.
It’s relatively rare that a given roofing leak can be traced back to a problem with the manufacture of the shingles. Even if this is the case, you may not be able to rely on the warranty if you haven’t properly maintained your roof over the years. Regardless, this type of warranty will only cover the replacement materials, not the labor to install them.
This type of roof warranty is a guarantee offered by the roofing company or contractor and covers the work that roof installer does. If something on your roof should fail because it was improperly installed or repaired, you may be covered by this type of warranty if it was part of your agreement with the contractor. However, there are three things to note:
- Many of these guarantees require the original contractor or roofing firm to come back and fix their work. If it was shoddy in the first place, you might not feel thrilled about asking the same people to fix it.
- Second, if you do ask a different contractor or firm to do any work on your roof, this will often void the original warranty, since it may be impossible to prove which contractor was at fault.
- Third, you could be liable for any add-ons to your roof such as the cost of solar panel repairs.
- Finally, this agreement usually only covers labor, so you would be responsible for buying any new materials.
Full System Warranty
This is a broader warranty that covers both the materials and their application to your roof. It is usually issued by the manufacturer, but it covers other related components, like flashing and edge metal, that come from different manufacturers. This warranty also protects you in the event of improper installation or other defective workmanship.
However, even with both labor and materials covered, there are a number of occurrences that can badly damage your roof and leave you open to paying the full cost of a significant repair or total replacement.
These include the following:
- Ponding or standing water
- Environmental events (high winds, hail, lightning, fire, flood, etc.)
- Consequential interior damage from roof leaks
- Existing moisture trapped in the system
- Unauthorized repairs
Sometimes you can purchase extra coverage for weather events like high winds or hail, but they are typically excluded from a basic system warranty. Additionally, thanks to the careful wording of these guarantees, it is virtually impossible to find one that will cover the cost of a full replacement.
Finding a Roof Warranty
Manufacturers’ warranties and workmanship guarantees tend to come with the purchase of materials and labor, so you won’t need to seek them out separately. However, be careful when it comes to choosing a particular material or contractor on the basis of the guarantee they offer. Here are some important things to keep in mind.
- Pay attention to wording. A “lifetime guarantee” isn’t forever, only the expected lifespan of the materials, which may be 15–25 years.
- The length of the warranty isn’t everything, either. Check the contract carefully to see what types of damage are covered, as well as the maximum payouts the warranty offers.
- A prorated warranty offers less and less coverage over time.
- Even full system warranties have gaps, so you will almost certainly spend some of your own money for large repairs or a replacement no matter what.
There’s another type of guarantee called a home warranty that can cover household appliances and systems that break down not because of problems with materials or labor — but rather normal wear and tear. Unfortunately, most companies that offer home warranties exclude roofs, largely because they’re so expensive to repair or replace.
However, some home warranty providers do offer limited roof leak coverage. A small few include it as part of a warranty package, but others will require you to purchase a basic plan and get roof coverage as an add-on. Again, you will not find a home warranty that offers coverage for a full roof replacement, but even limited coverage for roof leaks can prove to be worth it.
If you ignore even a small leak because you can’t or don’t want to pay to repair it, water damage can compromise the underlying structure of your roof and cause staining and mildew in the interior of your home. Having a home warranty that covers roof leaks gives you the peace of mind of knowing you can immediately file a claim as soon as you find the leak. You can get a contractor to look at it without worrying that you’ll be on the hook for the total repair cost if it’s covered.
Home Warranty Rating Methodology
To help you find the best home warranty, our reviews team researched numerous home warranty companies, analyzing their coverage plans, pricing and customer service, among other factors:
- Coverage: Home warranty companies that provide extensive coverage and protect important systems and appliances, including your air conditioning, refrigerator and heating, scored higher than companies with minimal coverage.
- Plan variety: A provider with more coverage plans allows for more flexibility among customers. In general, most home warranty companies provide an appliances-only plan, systems-only plan and combination plan.
- Pricing: We scored providers based on their monthly plan prices and service call fees compared to the industry average pricing. Companies with more affordable coverage received more points than companies with more expensive plans.
- State availability: Where you live will determine what companies are available in your area. Home warranty companies that covered more states received more points than companies with a limited state availability.
- Trustworthiness: There are some home warranty companies that are scams and don’t follow through on their service agreements. We rated companies based on their years of experience, ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and customer reviews.
To keep our data current, our team regularly updates the data points for each company to ensure their coverage offerings, pricing and availability are accurate.