Warranty Badge with a question mark.

Most home improvement products have warranties. Depending on the product and their intended use this warranty can be a decisive factor when making a purchase. This article intends to review the basic definitions and scrutinize the types of warranty conditions that may apply to your purchase along with some simple examples.

Warranty Defined

What does a warranty mean for products you buy. Let's begin with a simple definition then we can expand it to apply to your product. In contract law, the warranty has various meanings, but in general means a guarantee or promise which provides assurance by one party to the other party that specific facts or conditions are true or will happen. This guarantee can be in the form of a written contract or with a manufacturer that has no direct contractual relationship with the buyer. Warranties provided in the sale of goods (tangible products) vary according to jurisdiction, but commonly new goods are sold with an implied warranty that the goods are as advertised.


In the United States, various laws apply, including provisions in the Uniform Commercial Code, which provide for implied warranties. However, these implied warranties were often limited by disclaimers. In 1975, Congress passed the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act to strengthen warranties on consumer goods. Among other things, under the law implied warranties cannot be disclaimed if an express warranty is offered, and attorney fees may be recovered.

Implied warranties are unwritten promises that arise from the nature of the transaction and the inherent understanding by the buyer, rather than from the express representations of the seller. In the United States, Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (which has been adopted with variations in each state) provides that the following two warranties are implied unless they are explicitly disclaimed (such as an "as is" statement). Those warranties are Merchantability and Fitness of Use.

  1. Merchantability: The warranty of merchantability is implied unless expressly disclaimed by name, or the sale is identified with the phrase "as is" or "with all faults." To be "merchantable," the goods must reasonably conform to an ordinary buyer's expectations. For example, a fruit that looks and smells good but has hidden defects may violate the warranty if its quality does not meet the standards for such fruit " as passes ordinarily in the trade". In Massachusetts consumer protection law, it is illegal to disclaim this warranty on household goods sold to consumers.
  2. Fittness of Use: The warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is implied unless disclaimed when a buyer relies upon the seller to select the goods to fit a specific request. For example, this warranty is violated when a buyer of a floor installs it in the basement area where the manufacturer has not recommended being installed below grade.
  3. Defects In Materials and Workmanship: The most common kind of warranty on goods is a warranty that the product is free from defects in materials and workmanship. This type pf warranty simply promises that the manufacturer properly constructed the product, out of proper materials. This implies that the product will perform as well as such products customarily do. For instance, if you buy a floor and install it and five years later, through a defect in coupling construction, fails, it may be eligible for replacement.

    It is common for these to be limited warranties, limiting the time the buyer has to make a claim. For example, a typical 90-day warranty on a television gives the buyer 90 days from the date of purchase to claim that the television was improperly constructed. Should the television fail after 91 days of normal usage, which because televisions customarily last longer than 91 days means there was a defect in the materials or workmanship of the television, the buyer nonetheless may not collect on the warranty because it is too late to file a claim.
  4. Performance Warranty: Time limited warranties are often confused with performance warranties. A 90-day performance warranty would promise that the television would work for 90 days, which is fundamentally different from promising that it was delivered free of defects and limiting the time the buyer has to prove otherwise. But because the usual evidence that a product was delivered defective is that it later breaks, the effect is very similar.
  5. Performance vs. Time Limited: One situation in which the effect of a time limited warranty is different from the effect of a performance warranty is where the time limit exceeds to normal lifetime of the product.

    If a rug is designed to last two years, but has a 10 year limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, a buyer who uses the rug for 3 years and then finds it worn out would not be able to collect on the warranty. But it is different from a 2 year warranty because if the buyer starts using the area rug 5 years after buying it and finds it wears out a year later, the buyer would have a warranty claim in Year 6. On the other hand, a 10-year performance warranty would promise that the coat would last 10 years.
  6. Satisfaction Guarantee: In the United States, the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act of 1976 provides for enforcement of a satisfaction guarantee warranty. In these cases, the advertiser must refund the full purchase price regardless of the reason for dissatisfaction.
  7. Lifetime warranty: A lifetime warranty is usually a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship that has no time limit to make a claim, rather than a warranty that the product will perform for the lifetime of the buyer. The actual time that product can be expected to perform is normally determined by the custom for products of its kind used the way the buyer uses it.

    If a product has been discontinued and is no longer available, the warranty may last a limited period longer. For example, the Cisco Networking hardware has a Limited Lifetime Warranty currently lasts for five years after the product has been discontinued, but only if you know where you bought it from as the seller is responsible for administering it.

Breach of warranty

A warranty is broken when the promise is broken, or the goods are not as expected. The seller may honor the warranty by making a refund or a replacement. The statute of limitations depends on the jurisdiction and contractual agreements. In the United States, the Uniform Commercial Code § 2-725, provides for a four-year time limit, which can be limited to one year by contract, starting from the date of delivery or if future performance is guaranteed from the date of discovery.

Refusing to honor the warranty may be an unfair business practice. In the US, breach of warranty lawsuits may be distinct from revocation of contract suits; in the case of the breach of warranty, the buyer's item is repaired or replaced while breach of contract involves returning the item to the seller.

Some warranties require that repairs be undertaken by an authorized service provider. In such cases, service by non-authorized personnel or company may void (nullify) the warranty. However, if the warranty does not provide full or partial payment of labor (to repair the device or system), it is the owner's choice who will provide the labor, including the possibility of DIY ("Do It Yourself") repairs. In such a case the device or system owner will pay zero dollars for labor, yet the company that provided the warranty must still provide all the parts needed for the repair at absolutely no charge to the owner, not even a "delivery charge" that companies like to call their "fee" for delivering parts.

If the defective product causes injury, this may be a cause of action for a product liability lawsuit (tort). Strict liability may be applied in litigation.


In general, to remedy of the warranty is specific to the product. Read the documentation provided with the purchase. Some manufacturers like to work with distributors to channel returns while others required direct communication with the end consumer. On larger purchase priced items that have performance warranty issues the end user will likely be directed to file claims with the manufactured. With warranty issues related to Defects In Materials and Workmanship with immediate returns, the best approach may be to contact the product sellers/distribution where the product was bought.

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Creative Commons Citation: Warranty. (2015, March 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:07, March 9, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Warranty&oldid=648315889