Our last post was about the realities of warranty language, a really important point to protect your projects up front. But what about once the application’s in place and a failure occurs. What if you’re now faced with making a claim? What can invalidate a warranty?
In large part, as we explained about the language, the answer to this is in the eyes of the warranty beholder. But we have a three year warranty and if the application of one of our products fails, then we at Sprayroq are going to investigate it. In our contract and warranty language, we reserve the right to investigate the application and determine the cause of the failure.
All too often, people put warranties together just to disclaim themselves out of responsibility for a problem. That’s not our style. We’ve worked hard to formulate, test and reformulate our products to meet high but realistic performance standards, and take great pride in our track record of just such performance. If an application fails, we sincerely want to know why.
If the failure was not caused by an error during the application process and we actually have a problem with our product, we’re going to fix it and make things right with the end user. This is the end result of constantly subjecting our products to rigorous testing to ASTM standards by objective, third-party laboratories, and we think it’s worth the investment we make in our research and development process.
Have you ever wondered why?
As manufacturers of structural asset rehabilitation products, we’ve often had reason to wonder why brand new pipeline installations routinely carry a one year warranty, when some cities now demand that rehabilitation repairs carry guarantees of 10 years or more. Has this strange paradox ever occurred to you?
We believe a three-year warranty for product of our quality is certainly good enough. Here’s why:
With any of Sprayroq’s products, surface preparation is critical to the quality and durability of the installation. If the surface isn’t properly prepped, the application will immediately outgas—during which chemical reaction gases escape through the surface of the applied coating—causing the layer to look like peanut brittle or a bad case of acne.
This happens when there’s a certain threshold of moisture in the substrate: the A side of the polyurethane chemistry will try to bond with the water molecule in the surface rather than the B side of the coating mixture. This blows off carbon dioxide and forms pinholes. Polyurea mixtures won’t even adhere to the substrate if it’s not prepped right. The upshot is that it’s immediately clear if it’s done wrong. And that’s why our Certified Sprayroq Partners are rigorously trained in complete and proper prep techniques and how to spot anomalies so they can be corrected on the spot.
Another key component of a fail-proof installation is the thickness of the coating layer. Our design is conservative from an engineering point of view, and we specify a thicker layer than necessary to get the job done. But even so, we feel that it’s ridiculous to expect, much less demand, that a repair last longer than the warranty for its host surface. In our 25 years of existence, we’ve never had a latent structural failure of a Spraywall installation. Yet for reasons of pressure for an illogical warranty, our superior product does not get installed in places where it would easily outperform competing products. That’s not a winning scenario for municipalities, the very end users warranties were made to protect.
Nevertheless, some customers require such a warranty of applicators as well, so we don’t do business with them. Compare the standard one year new construction warranty with the 10-year repair warranty requirement of many municipalities. A warranty is a guarantee that a product installed will perform as expected for a given period of time. Look, we get it: Manufacturers want to minimize this period due to variables, while owners want to maximize it to limit their liability. But there must be a rational balance between the two.
We believe warranties ought to be predicated on up-front testing during installation. This requirement should be included in the original contract language. If it were, a standard one-year warranty would be enough. There are too many variables in installation conditions, applicator training, municipal inspection and record-keeping and product specification to expect viable long-term warranties.
Often, warranty language is purposely vague to acknowledge this reality, making these warranties the source of a false sense of security. And we just think that’s wrong. It frustrates the manufacturer and actually opens the end user to liability, rather than protecting them from it. Where’s the sense in that?
Failures may also occur where non-structural, elastomeric product is used in a high water table environment where there are structural stresses such as traffic loading or seismic activity. This is not, in the end, product failure but an issue with the wrong product being specified by the design engineer. This will never be remedied by a warranty of any length, and instead needs to be addressed in the product research and due diligence phases of a project.
The upshot is that a critical eye needs to be cast on the entire issue of product and application warranties. Manufacturers need to step up to the plate and do their R&D testing, then offer realistic warranties. Applicators need to ensure their crews are thoroughly and consistently trained in the proper techniques to install their chosen offerings. Designers need to do their homework on available technology and specify the right product for the right job. And end users need to get real about their expectations for product performance guarantees. Because this false sense of security fostered by ridiculously long-term warranties that just won’t hold up under real-world scrutiny aren’t helping anyone, and they’re fostering an attitude of mistrust that can only hurt our industry.