There may be a popular notion that a 30-year shingle is one that comes with a full 30-year warranty against leaks, so that if you (or, more likely, your building) experience a roof leak, say, 27 years from the date of installation, you can call the shingle manufacturer, and someone will re-roof your building at no cost to you. Wish it were so!
One widely known shingle manufacturer has produced a lengthy warranty that, based on my review, does not even include the word “leak”. It warrants shingle “performance”, but for that manufacturer, performance is apparently not related to the possibility of leaks.
Although there are numerous shingle manufacturer warranties and options available, the basic warranty, even for a “30-year” shingle, covers labor and materials to replace shingles that are proven to have significant manufacturing defects within a more limited period of time (like 2 to 10 years from manufacture or installation). After that the cost of labor is excluded, and the cost of shingle material is pro-rated based on the expected life of the shingle. Other exclusions are numerous. Tear off, disposal, replacement of flashing and other accessories are typically excluded, as are shingle replacement in cases where installation was not completed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations or where ventilation is not adequate. Under some circumstances a reduced limited warranty may be available from at least one manufacturer for shingles installed over insulated roof sheathing or vented, insulated sheathing. Perhaps the most notable of all exclusions: the warranty does not cover damage to the inside of your house and your furniture and other belongings.
Other cautions: At least one manufacturer recommends open metal valleys and will not generally provide warranty coverage for shingles installed in closed (woven or close-cut) valleys. Shingle warranties are typically transferable once from the initial owner of a roof to a subsequent owner with proper notification and paperwork and, in some cases, payment of a warranty transfer fee, all within a period of time stipulated in the warranty. Warranties against wind blow-off are also qualified to exclude circumstances where weather or temperature conditions or roof orientation have not or do not allow for the self-sealing adhesive strips to seal; and that can take months or maybe longer. And limited warranties for algae resistance are available for some shingles – you may qualify for limited financial assistance to pay for algae removal.
Still not satisfied? With some shingles you can get a lifetime warranty – that is, the shingle is warranted for the life of the original purchaser. However, that too is pro-rated after an initial period of maximum coverage. And, when you depart, it may automatically convert to a 50-year warranty for your survivors. Wow! Does that give you peace of mind?
The normal disclaimer applies: Read the fine print in your shingle warranty to see how it applies to you and your circumstances.
Finally, don’t forget that the spaces around and between the shingles are not usually covered by a shingle warranty.