Warranties for products are simple to understand, most people might think. You go to the store, buy a computer or a DVD player or a TV, or even a larger appliance like a refrigerator, and you get a piece of paper describing a one-year or two-year warranty, and what’s covered. Sometimes, for some extra money, you can get an extended warranty for another year or so.
But what if the item in question is not a personal appliance, but a huge building component that you’re purchasing in large numbers from a contractor? What if you’re purchasing, for your co-op or condo, a roof tank, pumps, a new roof, a new series of convectors for a central HVAC system, or mechanical parts for an elevator?
Surely, the technology in items like these is more complex than your laptop. Also, in addition to the manufacturer, there is usually now a third party—the contractor. Still, a warranty must be given. How do warranties work for such large items, and what do you, as a co-op or condo board member, committee member or manager, need to know?
A Matter of Scale
Stuart Pruzansky, president of Pruzansky Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Passaic says one difference between the warranties on small, personal items like the aforementioned laptop versus much bigger components like a roof is mobility. “The big difference is that you can’t bring it into them. If you have a boiler problem, you can’t pick it up and put it in your car and drive to the store where you bought it. So they would have to send someone in and troubleshoot it,” he says. “For these large components, most companies replace the parts and for a limited time. They’ll give you the new sections but they won’t put them in for you. If you have a 20-section boiler and one section stops working and they give you a new section, you have to take apart the whole boiler to get in there.”
“As far as elevators goes, say a building hires us, they say ‘our building is old and we want you to renovate our elevators’ so we put in all new controls and put in new equipment and we will warranty the elevator for life, as long as we have a monthly service agreement,” says Michael Christopher Todd, president of Pride & Service Elevator in Cranford. “We have what is called a maintenance control program. For example, we’ll say these 300 items need to be checked throughout the year and the frequency. If you don’t have that monthly service visit to make sure the components aren’t getting hot or wearing down an extended warranty is out the window. How can you warranty something that needs monthly service? That’s where this industry is not standard. It’s unique. It’s not like ‘here’s your TV or computer, call me if something breaks.’ You need elevator service.”